Under the Radar

Under the Radar 113: Grading the App Store in 2017


00:00:00   welcome to under the radar a show about

00:00:02   independent iOS app development I'm

00:00:04   Marco Arment and I'm David Smith under

00:00:06   the radar is never longer than 30

00:00:08   minutes so let's get started so in the

00:00:10   grand tradition of early January podcast

00:00:12   episodes we decided it would be nice to

00:00:14   kind of do a 20-17 in review episode and

00:00:18   to look over some of the things that

00:00:20   happen in 2017 that were relevant to iOS

00:00:22   developers and then kind of our

00:00:24   perspective so far on how those are

00:00:27   going or how those have changed things

00:00:28   so far and kind of where we see things

00:00:30   going and I wanted to start out you know

00:00:33   and first of all just a brief opening

00:00:34   statement here they've been killing it

00:00:37   ever since Phil took over like there

00:00:39   have been so there's been section a

00:00:42   pleasant and dramatically improved rate

00:00:46   of progress in the App Store ever since

00:00:49   they at like a year and a half ago

00:00:51   basically authority of it transferred to

00:00:54   Phil Schiller and I don't know what

00:00:56   other changes happened at that time but

00:00:57   there's there's a pretty clear trend

00:00:59   that like since that time things have

00:01:02   gotten significantly better and

00:01:04   significantly faster that and then the

00:01:06   progress that used to happen before that

00:01:08   which was pretty minimal so big thumbs

00:01:10   up to Phil and whoever else was involved

00:01:12   with that so one of the big changes that

00:01:16   has happened this past year too is

00:01:20   greatly broadening subscription pricing

00:01:23   for apps it started out in actually in

00:01:25   2016 in in in June right before the BTC

00:01:30   when they announced that more apps would

00:01:32   be allowed to use subscriptions and that

00:01:34   the for from years - onward of a

00:01:38   subscription you would get 85% instead

00:01:39   of 70% of the Commission so while that

00:01:42   was the year before the effects of that

00:01:44   I think have been felt more in 2017 and

00:01:46   especially because starting in June of

00:01:49   2017 we got our raise we got those first

00:01:52   round of 85 percent renewals and for me

00:01:56   that that those started in September I

00:01:58   think or October because that's it that

00:02:00   was like the one year anniversary of me

00:02:01   launching my auto renewing plan for

00:02:03   overcast but I think subscriptions have

00:02:08   you know there have been there's been a

00:02:10   lot of developer wish lists over the

00:02:12   years that have included thing

00:02:13   like free trial and you know and paid

00:02:17   upgrades and things like that that that

00:02:19   are basically the old ways of monetizing

00:02:21   software the ways that that that we

00:02:22   pretty much always had as many companies

00:02:25   still use on PC and Mac and we don't

00:02:29   have those yet and I'm not sure we ever

00:02:32   will have those on iOS but with all the

00:02:35   changes to subscriptions and some of the

00:02:37   new features that were added for things

00:02:39   like free trials of the subscriptions

00:02:41   and different flexibility and different

00:02:43   price tiers and everything else I think

00:02:45   we've come very close to those and it's

00:02:47   not nearly as easy as it was before but

00:02:50   you can now simulate free trials in a

00:02:54   few different ways that that people are

00:02:56   are seemingly doing with success so that

00:02:59   that's a pretty big thing and also just

00:03:02   by expanding subscriptions so much there

00:03:05   are so many more business models that

00:03:07   that have become possible that while it

00:03:10   is still not like trivially easy to make

00:03:13   money in the App Store in a sustainable

00:03:14   way we have more options than we've ever

00:03:17   had before

00:03:17   and I feel like now if you can't find

00:03:20   something if you can't find some way to

00:03:23   monetize your app that people actually

00:03:25   want then I don't think you're looking

00:03:27   hard enough so you know thumbs up for

00:03:30   all this all the subscription changes

00:03:32   and the the rules around subscriptions

00:03:35   becoming loosened in some ways for

00:03:37   really giving us way more options for

00:03:40   how we monetize our apps and having the

00:03:43   85 percent on the years 2 and above is a

00:03:47   pretty nice raise also yeah I think 2 is

00:03:49   also nice to see that but and this is to

00:03:52   earlier point about that now that it

00:03:55   seems like the changes that are being

00:03:57   made into these types of business model

00:03:59   changes or more policy changes they're

00:04:02   not in a situation where what they just

00:04:04   sort of like one and done like they felt

00:04:06   like oh there's a problem with

00:04:07   subscriptions let's change something and

00:04:09   then now it's fine they what's nice to

00:04:11   see I think now is any things continue

00:04:13   to get better over time like in the you

00:04:16   know towards the end of 2017 we got

00:04:18   introductory pricing as a new option in

00:04:22   subscriptions it's like now this is new

00:04:24   on bidding you know there's this new

00:04:25   mode there's this new tool and

00:04:27   I like that with something like so you

00:04:30   know business models with subscriptions

00:04:31   in this case it's nice to see that

00:04:34   continue to develop and that it's Reno

00:04:36   it's reasonable to imagine in that you

00:04:38   know 2018 we'll continue that process

00:04:41   that Apple will continue to expand both

00:04:43   sort of the types of subscriptions that

00:04:45   are possible and some of the mechanisms

00:04:48   mechanically with that like I know we

00:04:50   also I think at Dover DC last year we

00:04:53   got a bunch of new like web hooks I

00:04:55   believe for being able to you know do

00:04:57   validation and understanding around a

00:05:00   user state in a subscription so all

00:05:02   these types of things that are you know

00:05:04   they just make that better and better

00:05:06   and I love to see like irrespective of

00:05:09   Eros whether in the individual you know

00:05:10   sis it the individual details are

00:05:13   important or useful have panned out

00:05:14   wonderfully what is most important I

00:05:16   think is that this is an area that Apple

00:05:18   is clearly continuing to enhance over

00:05:20   time and it seems generally speaking to

00:05:23   be the area that they are putting the

00:05:26   most effort behind in their in their

00:05:29   kind of in a lot of their development

00:05:31   and their allocation of resources and

00:05:33   attention that they are making

00:05:34   subscriptions a better and better way to

00:05:37   monetize your apps and you know if

00:05:40   that's true and that's sort of where

00:05:41   they're pushing then it kind of makes

00:05:42   make sense to sort of think about it

00:05:45   like I currently don't use any and I

00:05:46   know you do but it's certainly something

00:05:48   that I'm aware of because anytime that

00:05:50   it seems like you know things keep

00:05:52   changing in a direction it's like hmm

00:05:54   that's interesting you know maybe I need

00:05:56   to be thinking thoughts will of a way to

00:05:58   take advantage of that because clearly

00:06:00   it's something that is you know

00:06:02   seemingly just getting better and better

00:06:03   of a deal and more more flexible of an

00:06:07   option over time also when subscriptions

00:06:09   launched we a lot of people had concerns

00:06:13   about whether App Store customers would

00:06:17   feel quote subscription fatigue this is

00:06:20   the idea that like well one or two apps

00:06:23   can charge prescriptions but then but

00:06:25   soon all the apps will be charging you X

00:06:28   dollars a month and people will get

00:06:29   tired of it and don't want that many

00:06:30   subscriptions and they will stop paying

00:06:32   for all of them and I don't think that

00:06:34   has really happened I haven't seen any

00:06:36   in just anecdotally I really haven't

00:06:38   seen any signs of that

00:06:40   many apps are still not charging

00:06:42   subscriptions so it isn't like they all

00:06:44   all of a sudden changed over and I

00:06:47   haven't really heard from people who

00:06:49   meaningfully have a lot of feedback from

00:06:52   people saying that they won't pay their

00:06:54   subscriptions because they have too many

00:06:55   subscriptions like that doesn't seem to

00:06:56   be happening which is good and I think

00:06:59   it's it is with all these things I feel

00:07:02   like there's this fundamental question

00:07:04   of are you providing some service or an

00:07:07   eval you to your user that exceeds the

00:07:10   costs that you're asking for that

00:07:12   service like at its basic level and like

00:07:15   subscription fatigue I'm sure is a thing

00:07:17   and it's certainly something that's

00:07:18   possible but you kind of imagine a

00:07:20   scenario where if someone is feeling

00:07:22   that and they have that many apps that

00:07:23   are providing that much value to them

00:07:25   they're going to be more apt to continue

00:07:27   to pay like the situation I think is

00:07:29   more it's a subscription fatigue is

00:07:30   perhaps a shortcut for saying you're not

00:07:34   providing enough value to your user to

00:07:37   be able to justify subscription pricing

00:07:39   which i think is entirely reasonable and

00:07:41   I mean that's in many ways the reason

00:07:43   why I a lot of my apps don't have

00:07:45   something like subscriptions where I

00:07:46   don't feel like I have something

00:07:48   tangible enough to warrant that kind of

00:07:51   direct action on an ongoing sustained

00:07:53   basis but other apps do and you know it

00:07:58   doesn't seem like that's actually a

00:07:59   problem in practice that if you provide

00:08:01   a service that has a tangible value

00:08:03   going forward that charging a

00:08:05   subscription for it is a reasonable

00:08:07   thing and fair enough like not everybody

00:08:08   is going to take advantage of that and I

00:08:11   think there is a certain element of

00:08:13   getting used to the mindset that not all

00:08:16   of your customers are going to be paying

00:08:18   customers is something that is certainly

00:08:20   a very important thing to understand and

00:08:22   just be comfortable with that there are

00:08:23   going to be people who use your

00:08:24   application and you never really

00:08:26   directly receive any monetary value from

00:08:29   that but like that's okay because as

00:08:31   long as you have a reasonable proportion

00:08:33   of users that do get enough value to be

00:08:35   motivated to do that you know you'll be

00:08:37   okay in the end

00:08:38   so moving on one of the other big

00:08:41   changes that was announced early this

00:08:42   year is that developers got the ability

00:08:46   to respond to App Store reviews and this

00:08:50   was long-awaited I think the Google Play

00:08:53   Store

00:08:54   had it like since the beginning or since

00:08:55   early on and so iOS iOS developers were

00:08:57   clamoring for this for years so we

00:08:59   finally got the ability to respond

00:09:02   publicly to user reviews in the App

00:09:04   Store how has that been going for you um

00:09:07   I think it's one of these things that I

00:09:09   am glad that it's there

00:09:11   that I think overall like as with all

00:09:13   the stuff like I love that it's a tool

00:09:15   that is now available the impact of it I

00:09:18   think is more measured and some of that

00:09:21   is dealing with also some changes to the

00:09:23   App Store that I think we're gonna talk

00:09:25   about later but the way the new app

00:09:27   store is set up the reviews like textual

00:09:30   reviews I think are less emphasized than

00:09:32   they used to be in the sense that

00:09:35   there's really you see one review and

00:09:37   it's kind of hard to even understand

00:09:39   that there's even more than one review

00:09:41   so assuming that you're like your main

00:09:43   review is a positive one the other is

00:09:47   kind of disappear into the sort of

00:09:49   disappear into the ether behind it and

00:09:51   so it's less important in that regard

00:09:53   because it you know but the reason why I

00:09:56   think it was initially very useful is

00:09:59   that if you you know there was a huge

00:10:01   whole section of your App Store page

00:10:03   that was about reviews and if someone

00:10:05   was you know was asking a question or

00:10:08   talking badly about your app in a way

00:10:10   that wasn't true or accurate or that you

00:10:13   could help with even you know the in

00:10:14   just from a positive customer service

00:10:16   perspective now it's good to be able to

00:10:18   respond to that like that was important

00:10:19   it's I would say it's less important now

00:10:21   and I view it now it's just another in

00:10:24   some ways it's just another support

00:10:25   venue you know that else you know people

00:10:27   email me and then some people leave

00:10:28   reviews and it's nice to be able to

00:10:31   reach out to them and you know it avoids

00:10:34   that situation where someone was

00:10:35   complaining about something like oh man

00:10:37   I wish this app it did this or you know

00:10:39   it when I do this this is you know it

00:10:41   doesn't seem to work right and being

00:10:42   able to reach out to that person and

00:10:44   correct that but it's much more of a

00:10:46   customer service thing than it was a

00:10:47   marketing thing I think initially so

00:10:49   like I'm glad it's there it's useful but

00:10:52   I don't think it had a major impact in a

00:10:55   way that it may have if they hadn't

00:10:57   redesigned the App Store yeah I I'm in

00:10:59   complete agreement I mean it like the

00:11:00   when you it turns out like the in

00:11:03   practice the reading of the reviews with

00:11:05   these responses like I loved how Mike

00:11:07   put it on connected this past week here

00:11:10   on relay FM they were doing the year

00:11:12   review if like kind of just all Apple

00:11:13   tech news and and they mentioned this

00:11:16   and Mike said it's it's kind of like

00:11:17   reading somebody's email chain it's like

00:11:19   yeah like because in practice you used

00:11:21   to like one person's you know it's

00:11:22   talking about some problem and then you

00:11:24   see like a support person saying we're

00:11:26   sorry you've had this problem please

00:11:27   contact us and we'll help you resolve it

00:11:29   like it's it's it's like resolve it's

00:11:31   like basically reading somebody's

00:11:32   support email like in public it's kind

00:11:34   of weird

00:11:35   as a reader and and as a developer I

00:11:38   I tried responding to reviews for a

00:11:41   little while but found it mostly not

00:11:44   worth doing and I think you nailed it

00:11:47   with like one of the biggest reasons is

00:11:49   the new App Store design change where

00:11:51   reviews written reviews are so sidelined

00:11:55   in the new App Store layout that they

00:11:57   barely matter at all anymore and frankly

00:12:00   I think that's all for the better

00:12:01   because you know for four years I think

00:12:04   it's been apparent that your your star

00:12:07   average mattered way more than what any

00:12:10   particular written review said and

00:12:12   there's so many problems with written

00:12:15   reviews it's just it's it's it's a

00:12:17   system that is so deeply broken and

00:12:20   dysfunctional and always has been so the

00:12:23   ideal solution would be to get rid of

00:12:25   star ratings and reviews altogether and

00:12:27   replace it with like a thumbs-up

00:12:29   thumbs-down kind of thing that way you

00:12:30   remove the the problem of different star

00:12:34   levels meaning different things to

00:12:36   different people like what does it mean

00:12:39   like what does it mean for for me to

00:12:41   write four stars versus five stars and

00:12:43   is that the same thing that you

00:12:44   distinguish between four stars and five

00:12:45   stars like it that whole system is

00:12:47   dysfunctional but the way they've done

00:12:48   it now I think is a significant

00:12:50   improvement where it is way less

00:12:53   emphasized you hardly see any written

00:12:56   reviews unless you really try to seek

00:12:57   them out and even then you're likely to

00:12:59   only read the first one and maybe two if

00:13:01   if you really get into it but it's so

00:13:03   cumbersome to actually scan through

00:13:06   written reviews that they might as well

00:13:08   not even be there which also means that

00:13:11   it's not really worth responding to most

00:13:12   of them it's you know unless unless

00:13:15   you're the kind of developer who I

00:13:16   greatly respect you who you know goes

00:13:19   through and answers every single person

00:13:21   who has anything to say to you that's

00:13:23   wonderful I don't have time for that I

00:13:25   can't do that I'd like if you have staff

00:13:27   or if you're so motivated that you can

00:13:29   do that awesome this is one more channel

00:13:31   for you to do that in but for people who

00:13:33   don't have the time to respond to every

00:13:36   it's every single thing this like the

00:13:39   the written reviews and being able to

00:13:42   respond to written reviews I think

00:13:44   should be treated the same way you treat

00:13:45   support email or tweets which is if you

00:13:47   can respond to them all cool if not this

00:13:50   is no different than those and you don't

00:13:51   need to worry about it and with the new

00:13:52   app store changes it's less important

00:13:55   than ever yeah and I think probably that

00:13:57   the biggest change that they made which

00:13:59   was a 20-17 change is not resetting

00:14:01   reviews on updates now right being an

00:14:06   optional sure making an optional making

00:14:08   that you in general you can choose to do

00:14:11   it and you would opt univis obviously

00:14:12   only do it when it would made sense to

00:14:14   do it

00:14:15   that in general it's kind of changed the

00:14:18   I don't know if it's right words it's a

00:14:20   bit almost like app reviews were this

00:14:21   weird kind of vague currency before

00:14:23   we're like you as a developer you're

00:14:25   trying to build up this number as

00:14:29   quickly as you can

00:14:31   for every updates you do so that you can

00:14:33   appear good in the store and continue to

00:14:35   you know grow and look like you're a

00:14:37   good app that's worth downloading but

00:14:39   this change I think had a I mean I've

00:14:41   been it's probably if I had to pick my

00:14:43   favorite change out of everything in

00:14:45   2017 it's probably that mostly because

00:14:48   it's changed the way that I can can like

00:14:50   think about my development cycle and

00:14:52   doing small updates are now like fine it

00:14:58   doesn't really matter like I can if I if

00:15:00   I had the time and ability I could

00:15:01   update my app you know once a week and

00:15:03   it would be fine it wouldn't have this

00:15:04   weird tension that I had before where

00:15:07   every time I updated the app I knew that

00:15:09   I had to kind of like rebuild all this

00:15:11   and so things like responding to reviews

00:15:13   would have been more important because

00:15:14   if someone you know had you've given it

00:15:17   a one-star and I respond to them and

00:15:18   they changed their one start to a

00:15:19   five-star that that difference was very

00:15:22   more measured whereas now if you've you

00:15:26   know it's like either if you use the new

00:15:27   ratings prompt system which also came in

00:15:29   2017 or yep you just gradually build up

00:15:32   your reviews over time

00:15:34   once you have a certain number of

00:15:35   reviews you can just keep them and

00:15:38   assuming that you don't massively mess

00:15:40   up and do something to jeopardize it you

00:15:42   can maintain a good star rating that

00:15:45   makes you look good in the App Store and

00:15:46   it's generally positive going forward

00:15:48   and you have to worry less about your

00:15:51   App Store reviews in that way and I mean

00:15:53   that's basically what I did for a lot of

00:15:55   them firm my main apps is I don't love

00:15:58   the ratings prompt system it's certainly

00:16:00   it's very effective but I is we've

00:16:03   talked about many times I don't love

00:16:04   interrupting customers and so on but

00:16:06   what I kind of love about is that plus

00:16:09   non resetting reviews is I just set up

00:16:11   my app so that I you know I was tried to

00:16:14   be very respectful but when I would do

00:16:15   it that it was only at the end it's like

00:16:17   you've clearly been in the app for a

00:16:18   while and you're returning from

00:16:19   finishing an operation rather than

00:16:21   starting an operation and I sort of set

00:16:24   the app up such that it only prompts

00:16:27   until I had a certain number of who

00:16:28   views and then since then it's just

00:16:30   turned off and I haven't done it so it's

00:16:32   like there was a two-week period or one

00:16:34   week period maybe even where like I was

00:16:36   asking people for reviews on a

00:16:37   semi-regular basis and that built up

00:16:39   enough reviews that now the app looks

00:16:41   great in the store and I can just turn

00:16:43   that off and in some ways like as long

00:16:44   as I keep you know keep shipping quality

00:16:46   updates and I'm not going to end up with

00:16:48   this big flood of one stars like the app

00:16:50   review system is not something that I

00:16:53   have to concern myself with which I love

00:16:55   and I can just kind of keep moving

00:16:56   making that better and better and it

00:16:58   doesn't have this weird external effect

00:17:00   that I'm trying to counteract and that's

00:17:02   how it always should have been like the

00:17:03   written reviews medes made like the

00:17:06   loudest most upset people it made their

00:17:11   review count for more than it should

00:17:13   have counted for and now that now that

00:17:15   we have a larger number of reviews that

00:17:17   persist between between updates and that

00:17:21   we'd have this this way to get quick

00:17:22   star ratings from people who don't who

00:17:24   aren't upset enough to write a full

00:17:27   review like they just like your app and

00:17:28   just use it quietly like they're likely

00:17:30   you know it the silent approving

00:17:31   majority their opinion now matters more

00:17:34   and and I think that's great for

00:17:36   everybody because it more fairly

00:17:38   represents how people actually hope

00:17:41   you'll actually think of your app rather

00:17:42   than just focusing on the few people who

00:17:44   were most angry enough to write reviews

00:17:47   and and one thing that's kind of funny

00:17:49   is I feel like it's made me less as a

00:17:53   customer I'm cared less about the star

00:17:56   rating that I used to because it seems

00:17:59   like every app has a couple thousand

00:18:00   reviews and it's four or five stars like

00:18:03   that's just sort of like that that's

00:18:05   like the baseline now and so it makes it

00:18:08   as if an app doesn't have that I'm

00:18:10   almost like I'm actively worried like

00:18:12   something is really weird with this app

00:18:13   if it's having really bad star rating

00:18:15   because they have so many more tools

00:18:17   they don't have to reset them every time

00:18:18   and rebuild that audience it's like it's

00:18:20   now it's just this thing that you have

00:18:21   and so it's like it's nice to it in some

00:18:26   ways that's nice in some ways that's

00:18:27   that's not so nice but I do love that I

00:18:28   just it's a thing that I care I have to

00:18:30   carry and focus less about you know I

00:18:32   don't have to actively check and

00:18:34   maintain and manage the star rating of

00:18:36   my apps like I used to and I appreciate

00:18:38   that being able to just focus on other

00:18:40   things that are much more important to

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00:19:51   this show so the other thing that is

00:19:53   probably big has had the biggest impact

00:19:56   on us as that Kate was introduced in

00:19:58   2017 would probably be the

00:20:01   a big App Store refresh redesign relay

00:20:05   out whatever whatever you want to call

00:20:06   it and the sort with that the big

00:20:09   changes in the editorial process within

00:20:11   the App Store where now we have in

00:20:14   addition to just like a totally new kind

00:20:15   of look and feel and a bunch of new

00:20:17   fields where now we can have promotional

00:20:19   text that's different than the

00:20:21   description text and we have a subtitle

00:20:23   now as in addition to just the regular

00:20:25   title and the title it's got four

00:20:27   shorter and we can have multiple app

00:20:29   previews in the app reviews auto play

00:20:31   like there's that side of things and

00:20:33   then we also have the new kind of every

00:20:36   day or several times a day editorial

00:20:39   process that kisk sort of come along

00:20:41   with it and I think and I think overall

00:20:44   it's been good to me it's always like I

00:20:47   mean I don't know if that's just a

00:20:49   self-centered way to look at this but I

00:20:50   think overall it's been a slight benefit

00:20:52   that I think the design changes seemed

00:20:56   to seem to work better or at least at

00:20:59   the very least they they didn't have a

00:21:01   negative impact and I certainly had some

00:21:02   concerns that because of the a reduction

00:21:06   in density in a lot of the screens that

00:21:10   it would have had a negative impact but

00:21:11   if anything it's had a yes and a slight

00:21:13   net positive so I like that

00:21:15   I think the editorial side of things

00:21:17   seems really nice

00:21:18   like I've been fortunate enough to be in

00:21:21   a couple of the like roundups or like

00:21:23   included in some of the the daily

00:21:25   articles and it certainly has an impact

00:21:27   and it's nice to you know have seven

00:21:30   chances a week for that whereas before

00:21:33   you had you know one chance a week to do

00:21:35   that it was every Thursday here's the

00:21:36   new set of features it's kind of nice to

00:21:38   feel like we have more options and you

00:21:41   know it probably proportionately means

00:21:43   that the impact of any one featuring has

00:21:45   gone down that read being premium having

00:21:50   a substantial feature before would have

00:21:52   had a resulted in more downloads but you

00:21:54   can now get them more often and it seems

00:21:56   like once your app is sort of in that

00:21:59   world where it's on the list of being

00:22:01   feat of kind of things that are being

00:22:03   considered for featuring it's reasonably

00:22:05   likely that your app will show up as

00:22:07   they kind of cycle through the different

00:22:09   things that they're trying to promote

00:22:10   throughout the year so like overall I

00:22:12   think the new app store is taking a bit

00:22:15   of getting used

00:22:16   but otherwise I like it and I think it's

00:22:19   had a positive impact overall yeah I I

00:22:22   was also a little wary when it launched

00:22:23   of you know not just not knowing what

00:22:25   kind of impact it would have and it was

00:22:27   it's a it's a bunch of very major layout

00:22:30   changes and so it seemed and major

00:22:32   editorial changes so it seemed like it

00:22:34   was likely to have a pretty wild swings

00:22:37   in either way and he didn't really know

00:22:39   until it locks like whether you're

00:22:40   whether or benefit you or not and as far

00:22:41   as I can tell I don't think it really

00:22:43   has meaningfully affected overcast

00:22:46   positively or negatively it seems like I

00:22:48   kind of got away with a nice neutral

00:22:50   outcome there but overall it does seem a

00:22:53   lot more pleasant to use in a number of

00:22:55   ways the information density is

00:22:56   significantly lower and in some ways

00:22:58   that gets in my way and feels clumsy but

00:23:01   honestly it wasn't like the App Store

00:23:03   layout and usability and things like

00:23:05   that weren't that great in the previous

00:23:07   one either so it's I think it's

00:23:08   significantly better than it was and all

00:23:10   the editorial changes are very welcome

00:23:12   they're clearly putting a ton more

00:23:15   effort into the weekly editorial stuff

00:23:18   and now the daily editorial stuff on it

00:23:20   one one area that this is a little bit I

00:23:23   don't know of unsettling as the word but

00:23:26   they they've added many ways in which

00:23:29   companies with large marketing resources

00:23:32   at their disposal like companies that

00:23:34   can afford to have a very large

00:23:38   marketing effort that coordinates with

00:23:39   Apple that reaches out that supplies all

00:23:42   sorts of different materials and and

00:23:43   achieves all sorts of different you know

00:23:46   goals and relationships and everything

00:23:46   there's there is more for them to do

00:23:49   there are more ways than ever for

00:23:52   marketing people and marketing teams to

00:23:55   help boost an app in the App Store and

00:23:58   that's that's good I think those should

00:24:01   exist and I think those kind of always

00:24:03   did exist but now they're baby made a

00:24:04   little more official but it also raises

00:24:08   the the bar for independence like us for

00:24:12   like how much of this marketing are we

00:24:14   ever really going to do or can we afford

00:24:15   to do or will we have the the tools and

00:24:17   resources to do that is a little bit

00:24:20   less awesome in some ways but I think a

00:24:24   lot of that's just kind of an inevitable

00:24:26   maturing of the App Store over time and

00:24:28   we're gonna have to figure out

00:24:29   operate in that environment yeah I mean

00:24:31   it's an MA in many ways I think makes me

00:24:33   think of search ads which is also

00:24:34   something that it got enhancements in

00:24:36   2017 and was something that it's like

00:24:39   I've just sort of gotten everyone's as

00:24:40   I've gotten a sense of the cost

00:24:42   associated with that it's just sort of

00:24:43   the understanding that the types of APIs

00:24:45   I make don't justify playing in that

00:24:48   market and that means that I'm never

00:24:50   going to be the thing at the top of a

00:24:53   search result even if I am the top

00:24:55   search result there's always going to be

00:24:56   someone else who is willing to pay more

00:24:59   and as a result you know that's just

00:25:02   sort of where the best I can hope for a

00:25:04   second place and in general so far

00:25:06   that's been fine

00:25:08   but it is certainly a bit frustrating

00:25:09   that it's you know the bet that there's

00:25:12   a there's an heart of the App Store that

00:25:14   is just not viable for me to take

00:25:16   advantage of that you know would

00:25:18   increase my visibility and you know

00:25:20   maybe that's certainly I see that as my

00:25:22   problem it's not like it's a problem for

00:25:23   Fred doing search ads like I'm not I

00:25:25   think they they're useful and they're

00:25:27   I'm glad they exist I think overall I if

00:25:31   they'd went away if I decided that they

00:25:33   were you know that they decided they

00:25:35   didn't want search ads anymore I

00:25:36   wouldn't be sad but it certainly is one

00:25:40   of the only kind of Dan net downside of

00:25:42   kind of the way that this you know the

00:25:44   App Store changed and I think it the App

00:25:46   Store changes in in fact if anything in

00:25:49   Iowa in in iOS 11 made the searches this

00:25:54   dad's even bigger and slightly more

00:25:55   prominent just because of the way they

00:25:57   changed the layouts of everything so

00:25:59   that's just one of those you know it's

00:26:01   just like one of those things but it is

00:26:05   it take a net win but in that area is

00:26:08   probably a much more marginal one for me

00:26:10   all right so to wrap this up if you can

00:26:12   pick like one number one wishlist item

00:26:15   for the App Store in 2018 you have any

00:26:19   idea what that might be I would loved to

00:26:21   see Apple further enhance the app

00:26:24   analytics area especially around sources

00:26:27   I think that would be very helpful to

00:26:30   get a bit more insight into like when

00:26:32   someone's when they say like this

00:26:34   percentage of my users are browse this

00:26:36   percentage of my users are search having

00:26:38   some insight into what they were

00:26:39   browsing for what they were searching

00:26:41   for

00:26:42   I think would be helpful I like that I

00:26:46   think that that's something that I

00:26:47   certainly think of that would be would

00:26:49   be nice I think I would look forward to

00:26:51   it's like I'm trying think of other like

00:26:54   things that I would love I love when iOS

00:26:55   12 and watch OS 5 come out for them to

00:26:58   drop support for some old devices

00:26:59   because there's a couple of older

00:27:02   devices that are making that make

00:27:04   development a bit more clumsy and

00:27:05   awkward then I would love and so I'd

00:27:07   love to see that them to be slightly

00:27:09   more aggressive and who knows the way

00:27:10   that they're the recent battery scandal

00:27:13   shenanigans situation has happened maybe

00:27:16   they will be more apt to do that so

00:27:18   that'll make my life easier and their

00:27:19   life easier but those are these sort of

00:27:21   the two that come to mind what about you

00:27:23   I think you know within the realm of

00:27:26   things that are actually realistic like

00:27:27   yeah I would love for them to drop that

00:27:29   70% Commission and and you know get and

00:27:31   you know give us more like 85% all the

00:27:33   time like that would be nice it's not

00:27:34   gonna do it here within the realm of

00:27:36   what's actually likely and and not

00:27:39   counting things like API and SDK changes

00:27:42   the for the actual store itself the

00:27:45   biggest thing I want is better search

00:27:47   and I don't just mean like different

00:27:50   layout of search results I the biggest

00:27:53   thing I want to see is improvements to

00:27:55   their relevancy ranking that is the

00:27:59   hardest part of search the hard part of

00:28:01   search is not finding results it's

00:28:02   sorting the results in a reasonable and

00:28:05   useful way and and that's the area in

00:28:07   which Apple has so badly fallen down in

00:28:09   the App Store so much of a time and and

00:28:12   that affects both the search results

00:28:14   themselves and as previously discussed

00:28:16   in previous episodes that affects the

00:28:17   the relevance pricing and ranking of

00:28:19   search ads as well so number one for me

00:28:23   that's I think what the App Store needs

00:28:25   the most is better search and more

00:28:27   specifically better relevancy ranking of

00:28:29   search results yeah I certainly would

00:28:31   would love that I mean there's some

00:28:34   things that is always so frustrating and

00:28:36   I know this is partly because I have

00:28:37   most of my apps a fairly generic names

00:28:39   which is an intentional thing but it's

00:28:40   also sometimes a problematic thing is

00:28:42   where someone does a literal search for

00:28:45   the name of my app you know so they they

00:28:47   type in workouts plus plus that's their

00:28:49   search term and it doesn't show up

00:28:52   anywhere in the search results it's just

00:28:55   very frustrating

00:28:56   we're like I understand why like I'm

00:28:58   sure they're just excluding the plus

00:28:59   plus characters and then sitting there

00:29:00   doing like a general you know general

00:29:02   search and so on but it's just one of

00:29:04   those things where like anytime that

00:29:05   happens it is certainly very frustrating

00:29:06   and so I would love for that system to

00:29:09   be improved

00:29:10   and but honestly also both as a user

00:29:12   like I always kind of hate when I'm

00:29:14   search I do a search for an app or a

00:29:16   type of app and most of the initial

00:29:18   results clearly are apps that have been

00:29:20   updated in a while or are in lower

00:29:23   quality or whatever that are just like

00:29:25   apps that have been in the store for a

00:29:26   long time like that's tombstone or are

00:29:28   totally irrelevant to what you searched

00:29:29   for sure so like definitely an

00:29:31   improvement to that would be very much

00:29:33   appreciated all right well here's hoping

00:29:36   to a great 2018 and here's some thanks

00:29:38   for a good 2017 to the App Store people

00:29:40   yeah thanks everyone for listening and

00:29:42   we'll talk to you next week bye