00:00:10 ◼ ► So today we're going to continue from what we did last week where we were talking a bit about iTunes Connect.
00:00:17 ◼ ► And we thought it would be kind of good to dive into the specifics about setting up a app in iTunes Connect.
00:00:24 ◼ ► And I think specifically, not the actual practical part of setting it up in iTunes Connect and where the boxes are and what to set up,
00:00:31 ◼ ► but there's a lot of metadata that you have to set up when you're creating a new app that I think is something that is often hard.
00:00:41 ◼ ► It's like, A, I always kind of put it off doing it because I enjoy the creation of the app part more than I do writing the app store description
00:00:56 ◼ ► The reality is all of the work we do in creating the app is going to be completely wasted if we have a bad presence in the app store.
00:01:08 ◼ ► And so it seemed like maybe a worthwhile episode to kind of go through all the fields that iTunes Connect gives us to set up.
00:01:16 ◼ ► And then you can kind of talk about our experiences in creating, how we set this stuff up, the considerations we have, and kind of go from there.
00:01:29 ◼ ► Yeah. And so I guess the first place, maybe we'll start with the prettiest thing, is the icon, or now actually, the icons, plural, for our apps when we set them up.
00:01:39 ◼ ► Because I believe if you did like, were an app on every platform possible, you would have to create, I think it's four icons?
00:01:47 ◼ ► You'd have the iPhone/iPad icon, and then you'd have the watch icon, the iMessage icon, and I think Apple TV would have a different icon too.
00:02:03 ◼ ► They have all of slightly different constraints and different sizes and different rules, like Apple Watch icons, for example, cannot have dark backgrounds.
00:02:22 ◼ ► Because basically, because the honeycomb screen on an Apple Watch has a black background that is always black,
00:02:40 ◼ ► So I've had to go in and, for Activity++, for example, which is, on the iPhone version, is essentially a black icon with a colorful glyph on it.
00:02:56 ◼ ► But something to keep in mind, that when you're creating an icon, there's lots of these little constraints and details that you may have to think through.
00:03:12 ◼ ► There's lots of other places that it may show up, including the iTunes Connect version, the big version of it that you have to submit.
00:03:31 ◼ ► Yeah, this is one of those areas where I think designers who are picky about such things used to take great care to custom scale every single little icon
00:03:43 ◼ ► and make sure that the pixels were lined up properly in Illustrator and everything else and custom tweak all the different sizes.
00:03:49 ◼ ► I think now more and more people are just having a batch script that just runs ImageMagick and just takes the big one and resizes it down to every size you need in a big batch automatically.
00:04:03 ◼ ► Yeah, and I think it's, in reality, there's so many different, it's like the nature of the displays we have.
00:04:10 ◼ ► And actually, probably a good segue into screenshots, because screenshots used to be something that I would go through the process of setting up different screenshots for every single device.
00:04:21 ◼ ► And then if you localize, you can end up, there are times that I've generated hundreds of screenshots that I have to get set up in iTunes Connect.
00:04:32 ◼ ► But last year, I think it was, they changed the mechanism and you can now specify, you know, if you just submit the plus-sized iPhone screenshot, for example,
00:04:44 ◼ ► you can then say, "Use this for all the other smaller sizes," which is something that I've definitely taken advantage of in a lot of cases.
00:04:54 ◼ ► Because you get the impression that these screenshots, they're never displayed at their native resolution.
00:05:04 ◼ ► And so being too precious about them, kind of like we were saying with icons, where there's maybe some value.
00:05:13 ◼ ► If you have control over how that icon is going to be displayed, that being precious about making sure it's lined up perfectly and exactly the right size maybe is useful.
00:05:23 ◼ ► But I think the more pragmatic solution for a lot of this stuff is, you know, Apple changes all the time the shape and the size that a screenshot is shown in.
00:05:35 ◼ ► I mean, even just the same screenshot will probably be shown at least three different sizes to a user.
00:05:41 ◼ ► If they, when they're in the search area, you know, the first two screenshots show up there and they're really small, and you tap on it and then they get bigger.
00:05:49 ◼ ► And if you tap on them again, they'll go essentially full screen. And so there's no way that you're going to have sort of pixel perfect artwork there.
00:05:58 ◼ ► And so in the end, I've just kind of simplified and said, "You know what? I'm just going to use the ability to just give one set of screenshots and then make my screenshots."
00:06:08 ◼ ► You know, it's like, "Spend more time making my screenshots good rather than spending that time just creating dozens and dozens of screenshots for not really a huge payoff."
00:06:19 ◼ ► Oh yeah, I've found similar benefits of like, like I recently stopped doing separate screenshots for the 4H phones.
00:06:27 ◼ ► The iPhone SE, 5S, because, you know, once they have the ability for me to have the 4.7 screenshots apply to that, I said that's fine.
00:06:36 ◼ ► Because if I look at my analytics, I can see like which screen sizes are people actually really using in large numbers.
00:06:47 ◼ ► Similarly with iPad, because you can't, I forget, you can't have just 9.7 and have it show up to the 12.9.
00:06:56 ◼ ► It only ever scales down. So you have to, you have to specify the 12 inch one at least.
00:07:01 ◼ ► Yeah, that's unfortunate. I wish they would change that, but I kind of understand why they don't.
00:07:06 ◼ ► Because it's easier for an app to scale down than up, you know, with user expectations.
00:07:10 ◼ ► But anyway, but yeah, like generally I've found that like you can now specify so much in, you know, in screenshots and everything else, descriptions, localizations.
00:07:21 ◼ ► You can specify so much that in the early days the standard wisdom was, "Well, of course, why wouldn't you just do it all?
00:07:30 ◼ ► Why wouldn't you give as much information, as many screenshots, as many assets as you possibly can?"
00:07:35 ◼ ► But these days there are just so many that it's actually fairly prohibitive to require that.
00:07:48 ◼ ► Like if I change, you know, a couple of pixels here or there, I won't update the screenshots because it isn't worth the time.
00:07:53 ◼ ► It has to change a lot for me to actually update the screenshots because it has to basically be a change that people would actually notice the difference between the screenshots and the app.
00:08:02 ◼ ► And similarly, like, you know, there's all sorts of things that you need to maybe do to the screenshots, cleaning them up.
00:08:10 ◼ ► If you like do things like fishing the status bar to make it, you know, like the nice even, you know, full battery, no carrier, you know, stuff like that.
00:08:29 ◼ ► Yeah, so basically this is a thing when Apple added the ability to do app preview videos, which we'll probably also discuss,
00:08:36 ◼ ► they added to QuickTime on the Mac, QuickTime player on the Mac, the ability to use the iPhone as a screen capture device and record screen cast movies onto the Mac of the iPhone screen.
00:08:59 ◼ ► the iPhone goes to a special mode where its status bar gets replaced with this perfect version that displays a time as 942, 941?
00:09:22 ◼ ► So what I usually do if I can't easily fake them with status bars that I've generated elsewhere is I will take all of my screenshots with the phone in this mode, with it connected to QuickTime,
00:09:42 ◼ ► There are some hacks, there's something called status bar magic that at one time at least would change the iOS simulator into this mode, which made it even easier.
00:09:53 ◼ ► But I believe that doesn't work anymore or occasionally doesn't work with new versions or whatever else.
00:10:00 ◼ ► Yeah, and I think it's probably worth also just talking briefly about what makes a good screenshot.
00:10:12 ◼ ► On the one extreme, you have the screenshots that are like illustrations or whatever, where you have a 3D iPhone in space.
00:10:25 ◼ ► I've seen a lot of them recently now where they have an iPhone that's tilted to the side that spans two screenshots.
00:10:33 ◼ ► So it's like taking advantage of the fact that the first two screenshots are shown next to each other in the search area.
00:10:39 ◼ ► So they'll take an iPhone and turn it to the side and make it almost a landscape thing across diagonally.
00:10:47 ◼ ► That's the one extreme where you have that or you have lots of words in your screenshots.
00:11:00 ◼ ► Or on the other extreme, you have screenshots that are just screenshots of the app, I suppose.
00:11:06 ◼ ► Like things that are less trying to explicitly tell you a story and more just show you what the app is like.
00:11:15 ◼ ► I've tried both. I think in general, I've tended towards doing the just screenshots of the app approach.
00:11:36 ◼ ► I try and typically in my screenshots, I try to tell a story in the sense of having them be consistent with each other.
00:11:56 ◼ ► that same night will also appear in the first screenshot where it was like the roll-up view and things like that.
00:12:02 ◼ ► Just so that there's some consistency across it that you could see how someone would be using the app.
00:12:08 ◼ ► But mostly, I think the purpose of these screenshots is just to give someone a sense of what the app is like.
00:12:14 ◼ ► And I think you in general do better doing it that way than trying to be too cutesy with it.
00:12:25 ◼ ► Yeah, I feel like I've never actually tried the whole abstract version of screenshots where you remove--
00:12:32 ◼ ► where it's no longer actually a screenshot of the app and you add text around it and you span it across multiple frames.
00:12:40 ◼ ► And the reason why, similar to your reasons, A, I don't think I would be very good at it,
00:12:48 ◼ ► It's one of those things kind of like adding keywords after your app title, which I didn't do.
00:12:57 ◼ ► But now I do, in part because when I created Overcast, the strict name Overcast was already taken,
00:13:14 ◼ ► Similarly, I think doing these fancier, not actually screenshot screenshots, I think it shouldn't be allowed.
00:13:35 ◼ ► It is almost ridiculous how universal that is and how incredibly perverted the concept of screenshots have become.
00:13:46 ◼ ► Now they might as well just say marketing image one through five, because that's really what they are now.
00:13:54 ◼ ► Ultimately, I suspect that people like us will probably have to do that at some point, maybe now, maybe in the future,
00:14:07 ◼ ► because you're able to show big marketing text and all these fancy things that a standard screenshot would not show.
00:14:15 ◼ ► And again, I wish it wasn't allowed, but the fact is it is allowed and everyone's doing it,
00:14:38 ◼ ► where it used to be like every now and then you would have an app where you wouldn't have any words,
00:14:44 ◼ ► but you would put the screenshot on an iPhone, so you just have a little border on the outside.
00:14:55 ◼ ► And then I remember, I think when I knew that the war was over and it was now going to be allowed,
00:15:09 ◼ ► and its screenshots included a shrunk-down version running on an iPad with black text on a white background
00:15:19 ◼ ► as their screenshot. And it's like, "All right, well, if Apple's doing it in their own apps now,
00:15:36 ◼ ► any time you put text in a screenshot like that and it gets resized so many different ways,
00:15:44 ◼ ► And I think it can often look a bit tricky, you know, look not as nice as you might want it to be.
00:16:03 ◼ ► It's like if I have an app that displays your step count, like your step count is your step count.
00:16:12 ◼ ► there's different small little texts that are different, but you can get a better sense of the app.
00:16:25 ◼ ► And so doing something more specific is a little bit problematic in that regard as well.
00:17:03 ◼ ► you know, iPhone screenshots should be set at 9.41, watch screenshots should be set at 10.09.
00:17:55 ◼ ► to teach you everything you need to know for setting up and managing your own virtual servers.
00:17:58 ◼ ► In fact, I would say, like, a lot of times, whenever I'm, like, searching for how to do something on a Linux server,
00:18:14 ◼ ► I think what I love too is they have very good documentation across different distributions.
00:18:43 ◼ ► You can go all the way up with pretty much every step in the middle up to 16 gigs of RAM for only 60 bucks a month.
00:19:40 ◼ ► is probably writing the description, which is an area that I feel like I have very mixed feelings about
00:19:57 ◼ ► But I know for myself that I never basically read them for any app that I've ever downloaded.
00:20:04 ◼ ► I mostly just look at screenshots and base my decisions of if I want to download the app from that.
00:20:15 ◼ ► how much information I want to put in there, do I want to do it as kind of like a wall of text,
00:20:22 ◼ ► There's definitely this weird tension there because it is one of the few opportunities.
00:20:31 ◼ ► But I think in recent years, what I've tended towards is the App Store description is as short as I can write it.
00:20:46 ◼ ► And then below that, I tend to do a bulleted list of the checklist features that someone might be wondering about.
00:21:00 ◼ ► So the top level thing, and especially that first sentence, has to be as good as I can make it
00:21:08 ◼ ► And so I want to make like, describe the app in, it's like the elevator pitch for the app.
00:21:16 ◼ ► you really need to be able to dial in exactly what the app does and why someone might want it.
00:21:26 ◼ ► And this is yet another field of the App Store, just like screenshots, where like, you know,
00:21:38 ◼ ► And it's, you know, most app descriptions are filled with like, you know, star, star, star,
00:22:09 ◼ ► This is one area though where, like, and this applies to a lot of these metadata things,
00:22:37 ◼ ► Like, if it's free, you can just get it and see, and see for yourself whether it's free or not.
00:23:13 ◼ ► and I need to include in the App Store description a little, I have a little sentence that says,
00:23:23 ◼ ► you know, you'll be given the option to grant or deny access to this or something like that.
00:23:45 ◼ ► this is the, like, the legal disclaimers and things, like, you may need to also just put those
00:23:53 ◼ ► Yeah, same thing with auto-renewing subscriptions, also have one of those required blurbs,
00:23:58 ◼ ► and this really isn't documented anywhere, so you just have to basically submit an app without knowing that,
00:24:03 ◼ ► get rejected, have the rejection tell you what the description needs to include, and then resubmit.
00:24:09 ◼ ► Thank you, very special thanks to Curtis Herbert of Coca-Love fame for saving me that rejection loop
00:24:15 ◼ ► on Overcast's subscription last fall, because he reminded me of it, like, right before I submitted.
00:24:19 ◼ ► Or, no, it was right after I submitted, before it was reviewed, so I could still go and edit the description.
00:24:24 ◼ ► Yeah, because, I mean, the reality is, though, yeah, I don't worry about descriptions as much as I used to.
00:24:34 ◼ ► I'm just trying to be plain and simple and straightforward, and I feel like that accomplishes most of what a description is trying to do.
00:24:43 ◼ ► So I think the other areas that you go through, you have to set the ratings for the app.
00:24:48 ◼ ► I think that's fairly straightforward, like, you just kind of think about your app, and like, does it include this?
00:24:57 ◼ ► The nice thing about that section is that, as you're just saying, does it do this, does it do that,
00:25:02 ◼ ► the rating that your app would get as a result will update in real time, and so you can get a sense of, you know,
00:25:08 ◼ ► like, why is my app 13+ or whatever? Then you can work out which of those criteria is doing that,
00:25:16 ◼ ► and then, you know, decide, obviously, if for whatever reason that would be problematic for your application,
00:25:21 ◼ ► then you can make the appropriate changes. And the keywords for it, I think, is the next area that...
00:25:28 ◼ ► It's basically, you just try and... This is where I have to be like, there's probably some, like, dark magic about this,
00:25:34 ◼ ► where people go into great depths of trying to work out what the optimum keywords are for an app,
00:25:41 ◼ ► and I used to go down that road a bit more. I mean, I try and be thoughtful about it now,
00:25:44 ◼ ► and I always make sure that I fill out my keywords field, because in theory, these are the keywords that are used in search
00:25:50 ◼ ► to determine if your app is going to show up or not. But, I mean, the weird thing about it is,
00:25:56 ◼ ► unless your app is showing up very highly for one of these terms, it doesn't really matter if you show up on the search.
00:26:05 ◼ ► So if you include a term that you're going to be the 100th search result for, it's as though you didn't include that keyword,
00:26:14 ◼ ► in some ways as well. So mostly, this is just trying to sort of cover your bases, and just put things in there that will help
00:26:23 ◼ ► the app store search engine understand your app better, give it a lot of words, and then hopefully...
00:26:31 ◼ ► Sometimes it's probably useful, like if your app does... has a couple of... branches a couple of different genres of app,
00:26:40 ◼ ► or does a couple of different things, then maybe it makes sense to be crazy thoughtful and dive into it.
00:26:46 ◼ ► But beyond just that basic stuff, I kind of just sit down, think for ten minutes, and then move on.
00:26:52 ◼ ► Yeah, and there are services and stuff that will help you allegedly optimize keyboards and stuff like that,
00:26:58 ◼ ► and honestly, I've never found their high prices worth the risk of even trying them, because it seems like it's very much like SEO tactics,
00:27:10 ◼ ► Yeah, and one thing I will say that's probably worth thinking about is, using the new search ads interface that we got with the search ads stuff,
00:27:19 ◼ ► you can there, you can specify... one of the things you can see is what keywords are showing up, are converting well against your app,
00:27:30 ◼ ► and these can be ones that Apple is generating, not necessarily your generating yourself,
00:27:35 ◼ ► and so one thing I have done subsequently is I'll run a search campaign for an app, and they'll go in and make sure that there aren't any keywords
00:27:43 ◼ ► that are doing well in the search ad thing that are, for whatever reason, not showing up, I didn't include in my keywords,
00:27:50 ◼ ► and so it's just a good little check to be like, "Huh, is there something here that I need to... that I should include in my keywords?"
00:27:57 ◼ ► Or alternatively, you can see sometimes there's keywords that seem like they would be good keywords for your app,
00:28:03 ◼ ► but when I run a search campaign against them, they perform really poorly, and so it's probably like,
00:28:08 ◼ ► "Actually, maybe I don't want to show up in that area, there's a better keyword that I could put in place of that one."
00:28:18 ◼ ► And the last area is probably the app review notes area, which in some ways is something that you may think,
00:28:26 ◼ ► "Oh, I never really need to use," but I will say, it's always a good idea to try and think of it,
00:28:34 ◼ ► And if so, put it in that field. Anything you've been rejected for in the past that you've since fixed,
00:28:40 ◼ ► like I have a whole list of these for all my different apps that I'll, you know, like, things that they,
00:28:45 ◼ ► I was rejected for and I have since fixed, I will indicate that and write that out in the app review notes
00:28:57 ◼ ► Because sometimes the app reviewer will miss something and it just saves a bunch of time to just be very upfront
00:29:03 ◼ ► and explicit and say like, "You used to, you know, I used to not have a restore purchases button.
00:29:13 ◼ ► it's probably saving app reviewers time and my time to just be clear about these things.
00:29:22 ◼ ► And with that, we're out of time this week. Thanks for listening everybody, and we'll talk to you next week.