How to get featured on the App Store?

I’m a Swift developer and indie maker. I have made several apps. They have all been featured on the App Store. Threader, a Twitter client curating good threads and displaying them on a single page-reading like articles, became featured as App of the Day.

Here is some advice, from my experience, of how to comply with the App Store guidelines and make them consider your app for promotion.

NB: Although this is advice that apply to all app categories, the game category is a bit more specific. I won’t cover the game app category in particular in this post.

 

Some advice so your app might be featured in the “New Apps We Love” section

Threader featured in “New Apps We Love”

 

A clean app

Of course, the first obvious thing to consider is to make a bug free app with a clean design. Think design, UX, wording, etc. Don’t forget to test it (different devices, different OS, different people…).

Use Apple’s APIs

Apple is promoting their own products. They’ll be more enclined to feature an app that uses the last Swift version and uses their own APIs. In 2017 they released the ARKit and made a special category on the App Store to promote the apps using it.

Extensions

Although I don’t have a solid proof for this, I think Apple likes when you take advantage of all their platforms (iWatch extension, iMessage extension, share & action extensions…).

Great visuals

All the information about your app is important and plays a role in you being featured or not. You can (re)read my previous article explaining how to submit an app, there’s some useful info about it (D. Prepare for submission, section “App previews & screenshots”). The most important being your visuals. Make something clean, simple to understand, fewer words…

Threader’s screenshots on the App Store

Frequent updates

Apple likes frequent updates. Users like frequent updates. Doesn’t mean you need to create a new feature every day. Fix bugs, get feedback from your users and push updates regularly.

If you’re featured, frequent updates are also recommended in order to stay featured longer and stay in the top of the App Store.

iOS only

If your app is only available on iOS (meaning no Android version), I recommend you mention it. I think Apple likes exclusivity.

Ratings

Apple introduced a way to reply to the users’ reviews on iTunes Connect. It’s useful to thank the good ones, but especially to understand what went wrong for the bad ones and reply to that person.

Reply to users’ reviews

Localizations

Especially if your app is available in several countries, Apple will appreciate that you took the time to translate your app in different languages. Since it’s a pretty annoying task and localization is pretty hard to update, I suggest you do it in the latest possible phase of your app development. I personally hope Apple will improve this one day since it’s really painful.

Keywords & search results

ASO (App Store Optimization) is the process of improving the visibility of a mobile app (such as an iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone app) in an app store. source Wikipedia

That’s why you need to choose your keywords carefully. I use App Annie sometimes to check the quality of my app’s keywords.

To finish, the most important and final step: Fill the form

There’s actually a form to fill out to contact the App Store Editorial Team in order to be considered for promotion.

Important note: “please let us know 6–8 weeks in advance”, so think about it way before you submit your app, especially for iOS where the market is way more crowded than the macOS market for example.

Contact form to fill out in advance

In my opinion, the 2 most important fields in the form are:

  • “App Details / Describe your app” section
  • Your Story

Globally, this is like sending your resume to Apple for an application. Sell your app and yourself (or your dev team).

 

 

The Holy Grail: Be App of the Day

Threader featured as App of the Day

If you’ve been featured, then Apple might consider you for being App of the Day or for featuring you in the App/Game tab. If that’s the case, you’ll receive an email. You’ll have to produce several artworks/visuals and submit them via iTunes Connect.

A few pieces of advice from my one-time-being-App-of-the-Day experience:

  • Be creative and look at the other Apps of the Day to give you an idea of what they look like.
  • Carefully follow their guidelines for the atworks.
  • Respect the deadline, obviously.
  • Consider releasing your app worldwide if that’s not already the case. If you’re featured as App of the Day, you will be featured in all the countries where your app is available.
Promotional Artwork section on iTunes Connect

Just so you know, even if you submit your artworks, it doesn’t mean Apple is going to featureyou. I know. You worked hard on this. And it might lead to nothing.

Also, after you submitted your artworks, you probably won’t get any news from Apple about the status of your app. You just wait. And that’s it. Let’s take my example: our apps have been considered two times for promotion. Both times we provided the artworks. Both times we waited for weeks. Both times we didn’t get any news. We didn’t get any replies to our emails. One app did not get featured. Threader has been App of the Day. Without notice.

 

 

Additional general advice

Photo by G. Crescoli on Unsplash

Remember that the iOS App Store is very crowded. A lot of apps go out every single day so there is a lot of competition. I published IP Man (a Mac menu bar app to easily copy/paste your IP) to the Mac App Store and even though I didn’t respect the deadline of ‘6–8 in advance’ (I know I didn’t respect my own guidelines), since there are way less apps available, they featured it. And I can tell you it helps a lot for the sales. I personally think the Mac App Store is a good place to sell your apps since there is less competition and I’d say it’s more niche.

IP Man featured in “New Apps We Love” on the Mac App Store

Another piece of advice I can give you is to look at your competitorswho have been featured, and other featured apps in general. I’m not saying all apps look the same but there is definitely a pattern. Sell your app the Apple way. Use their vocabulary, their design style, etc. NB: You don’t have to say everywhere your app is “insanely great” though.

You won’t actually know if/when you’ve been featured. Apple doesn’t notify you. So probably like us, you’ll just notice a pick of new users, check where they came from, not understanding what is happening. Then check the App Store to see if you are featured. And celebrate.

 

 

Useful links to become an App-Store-Feature Master

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

 

***

In general, follow Apple’s guidelines. I think it’s the most important. If you think of any other rules/tips, please let me know! I’ll add it with your name 🙂

I’m on Twitter if you want to see if my next apps will be featured or not 🍏📱

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