With 2019 nearing its end, it’s time to take a look back and see how App Store Optimization has changed over the past year. The year was filled with changes that impacted all parts of the app ecosystem, from new devices and operating systems to new store guidelines and developer tools. Let’s take a trip through the year and see some of the biggest changes to come out of 2019.
The technology that powers our apps continues to grow every year. From the devices that we use to the operating systems that power them, there’s always something new and exciting that developers have to keep up with.
Google launched new devices and a new operating system. Additionally, the company worked on expanding Google Play with new rewards and redesigns. The biggest technology changes were:
- The launch of Android 10, which includes features like Dynamic Depth, Smart Replies, live captions and improved biometrics
- The release of Pixel 3a and 3a XL.
- Android 10 supported the newly-launched foldable phones, giving developers new screen shapes and sizes for their apps to work on
Apple had a busy year as well. Between new subscription services, devices and operating systems, there was scarcely a time when there wasn’t something new from Apple:
- Launched iOS 13, which includes new features like subscription cancelation prompts, Dark Mode, Sign in with Apple and new privacy controls
- Launched WatchOS 6 and iPadOS
- Introduced News+, Arcade and TV+
- Released the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max
- Released the 7th generation iPad and Apple Watch Series 5
Google introduced a number of tools to the App Store and Play Store on the developer end. These provided new ways to manage apps and track success. Google Play added the following developer tools:
- New installer metrics for tracking experiments
- Custom store listings for targeting users in specific countries speaking specific languages
- The ability to develop Android Automotive OS apps
- Suggested replies for app reviews
- New console data metrics for analyzing performance
- New tags for apps and games
As new concerns and issues arise, Apple and Google often have to update their policies to address them. These changes can have an impact on what features developers include in their apps, how they’re marketed and what they have permission to control.
Google Play had the following changes in 2019:
- Call and SMS logs can only be accessed by a single app selected as a user’s default app for calls or text messages
- New policy and ad requirements for apps targeted at children
- The app approval process was changed to take more time to analyze newer apps, but rejected or removed apps can appeal and get a more thorough understanding of why
Apple had similar changes, including:
- Removing apps that utilized Session Replay technology
- Restricted screen time and parental control apps from using Mobile Device Management technology
- Restricted apps targeted at children from using any third-party analytics software or transmitting data
- New guidelines for HTML5 and Sign in with Apple
Paid marketing can supplement an organic App Store Optimization strategy and help apps grow while reaching more users. Apple Search Ads and Google Ads both saw updates in 2019 designed to help developers market their apps.
Apple added new Search Ads territories and localizations, bringing ASA to 59 countries. Meanwhile, Google Ads changed its frequency caps to optimize how often an ad should be shown to individual users.
While those were the biggest changes for apps, ASO and app development, they’re far from the only ones. Other changes in the app marketing ecosystem include:
- Google Play now sends Android notifications to advertise Editors’ Choice apps
- Apple enabled developers to offer discounts on subscription apps
- Google Play introduced Rewarded Products to further monetize apps
- Google Play changed all app icons to square designs with rounded corners
- Both Apple and Google faced legal challenges for alleged antitrust behavior. The EU also introduced new regulations on digital platforms that impact both stores.
- Google Play ratings were changed to make more recent reviews have more weight
- Google Play introduced the Google Play Pass subscription service and Google Play Points
- Material design changes to the Google Play Store, including a Dark Theme and redesigned Developer Pages
- Apple added a grace period for app subscription billing
Looking back on 2019, we can see several significant changes across the app marketing ecosystem. While some changes were widespread and others only impacted certain markets, it’s a clear sign the app ecosystem is always changing. We at Gummicube wish you all a happy new year and are looking forward to the exciting changes to come in 2020.
Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.