App Store Changes

App Store Faces Huge Changes this Fall

In case you missed any details from the WWDC 2017 keynote on June 5th, Gummicube has everything to keep you up-to-date. Apple announced spectacular improvements to their hardware, SDKS and developer tools. The jaw-dropping moment happened during the iOS 11 announcement, where Apple divulged the App Store will be completely redesigned in the fall, making this the biggest update to the App Store since its launch 9 years ago.

App Store Changes

The new App Store layout will distinguish between games and other app types with two unique tabs – effectively creating two new app stores. Within each category, there will be even more custom experiences with curated lists and editorialized content.  The changes to the product page will offer more opportunities for apps to become visible through App Store Optimization.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.26.50 AM

Today Tab

The first page of the App Store has been completely redesigned to feature an editorialized page called “Today.” This page will feature new apps, new updates and more with editorial pieces Apple calls “Daily Stories.” The apps on the Today tab are handpicked by Apple and give users an inside look on newsworthy apps around the world. The Today tab will contain information on the app and developer as well as providing users with in-app videos and images. Users can also share or download the app directly from this page. Apple is also adding an “App of the Day” and “Game of the Day” that will be updated daily on the Today tab.

Games & Apps Tab

Apple has finally made Games its own accessible store with a navigation button, making it easier for users to discover new games instead of wading through all of the App Categories. Games are the largest revenue generator and accounted for 81% of revenue in 2016. By separating Games, it allows users quicker access to discovering new and existing games. Apple has also introduced a section for “featured in-app purchases,” which will offer users direct access to purchase in-app content from the App Store Listing. Having a separate space on the product page that features in-app purchases will give developers a great opportunity to highlight any new promotions, subscriptions, new features and more.

App Store Listings – Display Changes

Apple’s announcement regarding the redesign of the App Store means the addition of two new text fields (Subtitle and Promotional Text) to product pages, ultimately changing the way App Store listings are displayed. The App Page will continue to show the App Preview Video, but it will now be on auto play. Apple is giving Reviews more recognition by increasing the size of an app’s star ranking and is placing it directly above the Preview Video. Apple has also tripled the number of videos and now allows developers to submit up to three Preview Videos. The addition of more Preview Videos is a shift in the App Store UI to a more immersive, in-game action, making creatives increasingly important to conversion.

App Name & Subtitle

We all know the app’s name plays a critical role in discovery. Apple announced that they have reduced the app name character limit from 50 characters to 30 characters. Reducing the character limit will help developers de-clutter their app names and serve as a space that highlights the name and most important features. The introduction of Subtitles, which are also limited to 30 characters, will essentially serve as another set of descriptors for apps and become supplementary to title tags. This text will appear below the app’s name and serve as a summary of the app to encourage users to download.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.53.19 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.53.35 AM

Promotional Text

The Promotional Text will appear at the top of the description and is limited to 170 characters, serving as a mini-description that can be updated at any time without submitting a new version of an app. Apple suggests using this text to share the latest news such as new promotions, features, content and more. The brief character space means it’s important to be concise about app features and functionality, and should entice users to download before moving along to the main description.

We are excited that the App Store is getting a new design that will feature editorialized content and new additions to the product page. To stay up-to-date on all App Store changes, follow us on Twitter.

UAC

Google Makes Major Updates to AdMob & UAC

Competition in the Google Play Store is fierce and the opportunity size is huge with more than 2 billion monthly active Android users.  Developers are engaged in a constant battle to grab users’ attention and gain marketshare.  Google, which built its business making online advertising more effective, is now rolling out major changes to improve its mobile marketing platforms.

During the Google I/O conference on May 17th, the company simultaneously unannounced a completely redesigned AdMob and impressive new features for their Universal App Campaign (UAC) format which is accessible via the AdWords interface.  While the changes to AdMob are aimed at providing greater transparency and a better experience to end users, Google’s refreshed UAC format presents app developers a serious opportunity to access highly coveted ad inventory in the Play Store.

Newly Designed AdMob

AdMob is one of the most established mobile ad networks in the world, having paid out more than $3.5 billion in ads revenue to developers since its founding.  While this is impressive, any established product needs to have the cobwebs cleaned out every few years.  The changes that are coming to AdMob include the adoption of Material Design, which will provide developers with a familiar and elegant interface across web and mobile platforms.

In addition to improvements in the user interface, this update will allow developers to easily track performance of their app and related advertising campaigns with the integration of Google Analytics for Firebase.   Google has made it simple for developers to link their AdMob and Firebase accounts to gain access to crucial performance data all in one place.  This means it just became much simpler to look at the entire funnel of your AdMob implementation, from clicks all the way through to app monetization.

It is clear that Google, with their broad rollout of Firebase, is aiming to become a complete solution for attribution across the entire funnel.  The inclusion of Firebase in AdMob follows a similar planned rollout across Google’s AdWords platform, creating a unified attribution environment across Google mobile channels.

UAC Updates

Through AdWords, Google presents app developers with a number of different channels where they can market their app and boost installs.  In addition to traditional channels including paid search, display, and video that have traditionally been Google’s “bread and butter”, another format exists called Universal App Campaign (UAC).  The promise of UAC is simultaneous access to inventory across all Google channels, with Google tuning user acquisition cost based on your CPI goals automatically.

While UAC sounded great for many developers, the reality is that the program is a kind of black box where the source of installs aren’t transparently disclosed.  This caused many experienced marketers to de-prioritize UAC in favor of manually managing their Google ad campaigns one channel (and one click) at a time.  Many apps were able to achieve better CPI’s (cost per install) using this manual method.

Google has responded to the concerns of marketers by offering a new incentive to use UAC campaigns, even if in conjunction with traditional manual campaigns.  This incentive offers up prime ad inventory and placements in the Google Play store only to developers running a UAC campaign.  This means that even when running specific search, display and video campaigns from the AdWords interface, developers will need to turn on UAC to access some of the best inventory.

At the same time as Google is reserving some of the best inventory for UAC campaigns, they are also improving how UAC campaigns perform.  To help apps appear more in the Play Store, Google has added the new expansion called Smart Bidding. This strategy has been expanded to help acquire more high-value users and create tailored bids unique to a developer’s business goals. Through Smart Bidding, UAC will find the right users based on installs, events and value to attract high-valued users.

Additional Third Party Attribution Options

Despite having improved integration and performance of their own attribution tools, Google is also making it easier to work with third-party measurement providers. Google has now integrated seven global companies (Adjust, Adways, AppsFlyer, Apsalar, CyberZ, Kochava and TUNE) into AdWords to ensure that developers have consistent data to review their app’s metrics. This data will provide valuable insights on where users engage most with an app to help developers make necessary adjustments to their ad campaigns.

The updates to UAC and the integration of these leading third-party attribution partners into AdWords shows that Google understands that developers need not only more distribution, but also greater transparency into where the highest quality users are coming from.  Whether focused on improving performance of advertising campaigns in Google channels or seeking a simple view of performance across all channels, these changes should make life easier for app developers.

Mobile App Development

Top 5 Mobile App Development Trends

Mobile app development cannot be ignored as developers are trying to meet high user demands and keep up with current trends, which will later be reflected in their apps.

So far in 2017, we have seen developers realizing how important ASO is to help their app become more discoverable in the app stores. Many have said that 2017 could be the benchmark for mobile as more and more developers gravitate toward the same mobile trends.

Developers need to stay ahead of their competition as the app stores continue to grow. Here is a list of the top app development trends currently happening in 2017 to help developers stay ahead of the curve.

1. More Apps Generating Money

Apps are essentially mini-advertising platforms for the company or business that developed the app. With over 3 billion active mobile users, many of them are likely to purchase in-app content.

There is a rise in how many apps, particularly gaming, that integrate in-app features that are available for real currency. Gaming apps along have seen a massive spike in users purchasing content and are steadily becoming a bigger revenue generator for the developer.

IMG_4490

2. Augmented Reality Apps

In 2016, hit AR apps like Pokémon GO and Ingress were all the rage, despite AR apps still in the experimental phase.

While only a handful of AR apps came out in 2016, 2017 has already seen more developers incorporate AR apps into cinemas and games to increase user engagement. TV shows like Archer: Dreamland have created apps that allow users to play on the app while watching the show to discover hidden content to enhance their experience.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 2.00.30 PM

3. Wearable Apps

Since the development of the Fitbit Flex in 2013 and the Apple Watch in 2015, wearable technology has been on the rise. Wearable technology further incorporates apps both on the wearable and mobile device, putting apps closer than just in your pocket.

Wearable devices are projected to reach nearly 214 million units by 2020 and have incorporated access to payment services and various apps like games or health trackers.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 5.31.39 PM

4. Small Businesses Making Apps

Major companies like Subway, Dominos and Starbucks have seen incredible success with their mobile apps. These companies have seen that it helps with user engagement and has also increase their overall revenue.

Over 70 percent of traffic comes from mobile, encouraging more and more small businesses to turn to app development. Referencing Trend #1, apps are mini-advertising platforms and have improved revenue for many companies. Small businesses have taken to app development to not only improve their company’s revenue stream, but to become a top competitor in their market.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 2.25.54 PM

5. Mobile Payments on the Rise

M-commerce has seen a huge push in recent years, and mobile transactions are becoming more common. Mobile apps are starting to help merchants make the process more straightforward as well as making sure all mobile payments are secure. Retail apps are including integrated payment technology to expedite the payment process instead of making users jump through hopes to purchase something online.

More users are also saving their debit and credit cards directly to their mobile phones with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, which are specifically designed as a safer way to pay with a debit, credit or prepaid card.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 2.29.29 PM

Looking Ahead

We have only seen a glimpse of what app development in 2017 looks like, but with the way current trends going, these trends are going to change the current app market.

Developers looking to engage with more users should consider implementing some of these trends to stay ahead of competitors and help their business thrive.

Google Play Developer Console

Google Play Developer Console Gets an Update

At the Google I/O Developer Conference , the tech company announced the new updates coming to the Google Play Console to help developers create more apps and improve their current app’s performance.

Last year for the Play Store alone, users downloaded 82 billion apps, and now there are 2 billion active Android devices around the world. These stats reinforce the importance for more data regarding where users are coming from details if the app struggling to get visibility. This data would help developers understand what channels their app gets the highest traffic from along with information regarding their app’s performance in the Play Store.

Google has continually tried adding more tools and features that help developers publish apps, but now developers will have specific data regarding app crashes, a dashboard to track and monitor metrics after a release and more.

Breakdown of the New Features

The Google Play Developer Console was updated with new tools to improve their app’s performance. Here is a list of the new tools available to developers on the Play Console:

1. Android Vitals

This tool allows developers to monitor and fix any ongoing issues to improve user experience. Data can view aggregated or anonymized by device from users that provide crucial data from their certified Android device.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 10.23.07 AMThis tool is mostly for understanding stability (crash rates and App Not Responding [ANR] Rates), battery usage (stuck wake locks and excessive wakeups) and rendering time (slow rendering or frozen UI frames.)

2. Release Management

The Release Management tool had several new features added to help developers understand key metrics tied to their app’s release.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 10.23.23 AM

I. Release Dashboard: Tracks a release as it happens by monitoring how the release affects important metrics.

II. Android Instant Apps: Can iterate quickly with a developer to gather feedback from trusted users on the pre-release. This also allows for users to test the app without having to install to their device’s home screen.

III. Device catalog: Developers can search and filter across device data for thousands of certified Android Devices. This tool shows the number of installs, rating and revenue contributed by each device. Developers can also use this tool to make specific exclusions to certain devices based on RAM and more.

IV.  App Signing: Developers can now securely transfer their key to Google to manage an app on their behalf. Those that opt-in for upcoming assistive services like app optimization for APK size, will have their APK versions delivered via Google to save data.

3. User Acquisition

Acquisition Reports can help developers understand where users are coming from and if they go on to install and buy in-app content. The report also includes retained installer data, which further breaks down to data on specific channels and geographies that drive valuable users who keep the app installed for up-to or over 30 days.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 10.23.42 AM

4. Financial Reports

Google has added the subscriptions dashboard which lets developers see how their app’s subscriptions are performing. Monitoring their subscriptions performance allows for developers to make any necessary business decisions to improve revenue growth.

Developers can also analyze the total number of subscribers, revenue and retention across multiple dimensions.

The new tools Google has added to the Play Console will surely help developers understand their users better along with the capabilities to monitor their app’s current performance in the Play Store to make any necessary improvements over time.

Key Takeaways

Aspects of both the Apple and Google Play updates are very similar, showing that Apple and Google understand that developers need key information to make vital changes to their app’s performance to retain and engage with users better. These improved tools to the Google Play Developer Console will help developers ensure the development of quality apps and generate more revenue to grow their businesses.

Google I/O

Google I/O: Big Changes Coming to Android

Google’s I/O conference kicked off with major announcements that will help users and developers. CEO Sundar Pichai made a stunning announcement that there are now 2 billion monthly active Android users, and there were 82 billion app installs in 2016.

Google showed off its technology by starting its keynote on Wednesday addressing its advances in artificial intelligence that will be coming to Google Assistant soon. The tech company is also making big changes to Firebase, Google Photos, Android Instant Apps and Gmail along with unveiling Google Lens, Android O and Android Studio 3.0.

Here is a list of Google’s announcements and how they will help users and developers alike:

1. Google Assistant Updates – Now for iOS

Google discussed its Software Development Kit for Google Assistant and how it will now let third-party device makers inject the conversational technology into home appliances. Order-taking, payments and receipts will also be integrated into TV allowing you to make orders and payments while watching your favorite shows. Users will now be able to type requests and questions rather than speaking.

During the keynote address, Pichai stated that Google Assistant is coming to iOS devices. This makes Google Assistant available to hundreds of millions more users that do not have an Android device. Unlike Siri for iOS devices, Google Assistant cannot be used with the home button but must be opened by tapping the app icon.

Part of Google Assistant is the newly launched Lens, a service that uses AI technology to quickly recognize objects, locations, businesses and other things in the world all through your camera lens.

2. Instant Apps

The concept of Instant Apps was first announced at 2016’s I/O conference, but on May 17th, Google announced that the Instant Apps SDK was available to all developers. Currently, there are about 50 apps that have created Instant Apps, and some have seen increases in purchases and views.

Instant Apps give users an opportunity to use an app without having to install. They can tap the URL of an app to launch it without having to go through the Play Store. Once the user closes the app, it is gone without the app ever being installed to the device’s home screen.

3. Firebase Updates

Since Google first acquired Firebase back in 2014, the company has grown the service to provide more help to developers build apps for Android, iOS and web. Besides releasing more features to help with app development, the company also started open-sourcing Firebase’s SDK kits.

Firebase is also getting analytics updates making analytic reports available across the Firebase Console and Google Analytics interface. For those that monetize their app, they will see that Firebase now shares data with AdMob.

4. Android O

Google launched Android O Beta where developers can start testing their apps against this release by downloading the new preview that includes an updated SDK with system images for several devices, the Android Emulator and an emulator for Android Wear 2.0.

Vice President of Engineering for Android, Dave Burke, highlighted two themes that Android O will focus on: Fluid Experiences and Vitals. Fluid Experiences includes features like Picture-in-Picture, Notification Dots, Autofill and Smart Text. Vitals, a newer concept, includes features for security enhancements, OS optimizations and developer tools.

5. Improvements for Developers

Google I/O highlighted three major improvements to developers such as the Google Payment API, a redesigned AdMob and App Attribution Partners.

I. Google Payment: The expansion of payment solutions now allows merchants and developers to give their users the option to pay with credit and debit cards already saved to the user’s Google Account. Users will have access to multiple Google Payment options like previously saved credit and debit cards via Android Pay, payment cards used on the Play Store or a form of payment stored via Chrome.

II. AdMob: Currently, AdMob has already paid over $3.5 billion in ad revenue to developers across iOS and Android. It has been redesigned to allow developers to easily pick an app, view its key metrics and make improvements to its performance. Google is also introducing new ad placements on the home and app list pages in the Play Store to reach users in “discovery mode.”

III. App Attribution Partners: A new program to integrate data from seven global companies like Adjust, Adways, Appsflyers and more directly into AdWords. The integration of AdWords with these partners will provide developers with data to review their app metrics and improve their app’s performance.

6. Play Console Update

Google launched another set of tools for developers that use the Play Console. The new tool called Vitals will automatically analyze app reports to show developer pertinent info about any app issues such as crashes or freezes and monitor battery usage. Adding a tool such as Vitals can help developers better pinpoint the source of problems and understand why users might be uninstalling their app to create solutions that retain more users.

The announcement is reminiscent of Apple’s announcement a couple weeks ago about their updated App Analytics tools. Both tech companies are shifting their focus to providing developers more information to correct issues within their apps to avoid negative user reviews and engage with users.

Key Takeaways

Google’s I/O developer conference unveiled the direction the tech company is headed in the future and provided developers more tools to make developing apps simpler and faster.

The updates to Firebase and the Play Console are sure to continue increasing the number of apps on the Play Store and encourage more users to install more apps. The future is bright for Google and they are sure to only continue producing more updates to help developers and improve users’ experiences.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing