A few months ago during WWDC Apple introduced the new iteration of its popular mobile operating system – iOS 11. Together with other updates and improvements, Apple made much-anticipated changes and redesigned App Store. That’s really great news but this will impact all iPhone and iPad apps together with their ASO strategies.
Here, I want to offer a look at how App Store Optimization will change with the introduction of iOS 11.
Changes in iOS 11 App Store interface and app discoverability
The new design is reminscent of the Apple Music app introduced in 2016, so we assume many people already gotten used to it. Here is the list of key changes:
Everything got bigger, much bigger than before
This relates to font sizes, icons, screenshots, and illustrations.
Videos play automatically & muted
This is clearly done following the best practices of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other services that play the video as soon as you see it on your screen. By the way, this is turned off for China and India.1.3. New editor’s tab “Today”
New “Today” editor’s tab
Now, this includes editorial stories, world premieres, new releases (Game of the Day, App of the Day) and daily app selections. Right now all publications are only in English. But Apple promises to update this section every day for each country,
Finally, games and apps are separated
They are now on two different tabs in the menu. And no Home Page as it was before with featured apps & collections. We as well noticed that already installed apps do not appear in top charts preview on Games & Apps tabs. Both tabs have Featuring section with New and Editor’s selection, then comes Top Free and Top Paid charts and last but not least — categories list and in-apps.
No gross revenue charts for apps and games
While it seems it’s not a bug but an intended feature, this is a huge move from Apple’s side. How will companies compare who is earning more?
There will be three vertical screenshots instead of two in search results
That is a crucial change clearly leading to better representation of an app in search results though it's also understandable for Apple to do that in light of the paid search ads.
It seems like with new interface Apple is trying to solve main App Store problem — new apps and games discoverability.
New app page layout in iOS 11 App Store
There are a lot of new elements and sections on Product Page that clearly show us the new direction Apple wants to take App Store to. And a lot of similarities with Google Play Store as well.
Some apps have got a promo banner above app name and icon. Unfortunately, not every developer can set up this banner. This has to be “earned” (Google Play doesn’t have this limitation).
For a long time, Apple was fighting with webmasters and SEO experts who made use of long app names which were only partly visible in the App Store. In the beginning, there was 255 characters maximum for an app name. A year ago this number went down to 50 characters. And now there is a new limit — only 30 characters. Same as in Google Play. (Google’s response was quick. They increased app name limits in Google Play Store from 30 characters to 50).
Apple decided to compensate app name length by adding a subtitle. This text field is also limited to 30 characters. It’s recommended for describing app features instead of general comments. At the moment you can already add subtitle in iTunes Connect though it's not displayed in the current version of the App Store in iOS 10 and iOS 9.
There is a new section under icon and app name containing the following elements:
- Average rating and all-time stars count (instead of current app version rating),
- Badge “Editor’s Choice” (if app has it),
- New! App position in main category chart,
- Age rating.
If you already installed an app (even if it was deleted since then), last update text is shown right after Ratings section and is visible on the first screen. It means that What’s New section will serve as a re-engagement tool to return users back into the app. Thus, it makes sense to write a proper update text rather than common "Bugfixes and improvements". If the app was never installed by the user, the What’s New section is shown below Reviews
Video and Screenshots
Now you can add up to three videos (app previews), separate for each language. The first video will be auto played once it gets into user's screen space. Note that if an app hasn’t been installed before, horizontal videos and screenshots will be visible on the first screen. It’s a great way to help users learn more about a new app in a more easy way. Screenshots for other compatible devices like iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch are as well available for examination if an app supports them.
Description and promotional text
The first few description lines are the most important as they are visible for a user by default and placed before the “More” link. You can now add any app promotional text in a special dedicated field which has 170 characters limit. This text can be updated without new version release, though it won’t be indexed for app search.
Ratings and Reviews
Apple significantly transformed this section. There will be no need to go to a separate tab anymore to check rating or to read reviews. Everything is on the same product page. The new developers' replies section will to also be here. Average app rating is now much more noticeable. It looks like it will have more impact on the installs. By the way, a developer can set this rating to zero, so last versions bugs won’t affect new users decision to install an app or not.
Subscriptions and In-App Purchases
If an app has in-app purchases, they can be promoted on the product page in Subscriptions and In-App Purchases sections. Developers can show up to 20 in-app purchase. Worth noting that user can now make a purchase without launching an app.
How search results changes in iOS 11 App Store
As mentioned before, there are three vertical screenshots visible in search results instead of two available earlier in iOS 10. This update significantly reduces the size of each screenshot and, as the result, the visible text should be resized accordingly. Developers should update their screenshots before iOS 11 launch. It’s especially crucial for those who receive the majority of traffic from search.
Horizontal screenshots and auto played videos look great. Perhaps, it will work better than three static vertical screenshots for many games and apps. In App Store update description it is said that search now will include «developers, in-app purchases, categories, editorial stories, tips and tricks, and collections». Also , earch results now show app category and for some of the apps, it is their secondary category. Possibly, this is a bug and will be fixed before iOS 11 launch.
Changes in App Store Optimization with iOS 11 release
Obviously, these updates will have a significant impact on ASO for the App Store. Key points:
- App name and subtitle — up to 30 characters.
- Up to three videos for each language.
- Three initial vertical screenshots.
- Ratings for all versions which can be reset to zero if necessary.
- User reviews and developer responses.
- In-App Purchases promotion on Product page.
- Promo text for special announcements or new features.
- What’s new text field to bring old users back.
- Primary category ranking.
How to ask Apple to feature your app in App Store
There are formal requirements for ‘featuring’ as well as special application form both for Featuring and Today, learn more here.
The first time Apple made such a significant change in App Store since its initial launch in 2008. Mainly these updates are intended to improve user engagement: more apps and games impressions mean more installs and profit. It’s necessary to adjust apps before the iOS 11 launch (fall 2017).
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