So you have an awesome app, great feedback from your users and customers, and your downloads are increasing. So why hasn’t your app been featured by Apple in the App Store?
The short answer is there is no one thing you can do to get featured. You can’t pay for it or deploy special features within your app to win favour with Apple. What you can do, however, is follow a few simple steps recommended by developers and Apple alike to increase your chances of getting those elusive featured spots.
Here are 14 things you can work on to better your chances of becoming featured in the App Store:
- Error-Free Functionality and a high-quality build
- To be featured, be native
- Incorporate the latest releases and announced at WWDC
- No one likes outdated apps
- Be universal, be an Apple advocate
- Create your own individual space in App Store
- Be King of the icons
- Be so good, that they can’t ignore you
- Remember the featured apps are chosen by humans
- Choose the right day of the week
- Better late, than never in this case
- Be seasonal all around the world
- Make a pitch
- Pay close attention to your analytics
1. Error-Free Functionality and a high-quality build
This is kind of obvious, but a great place to start. App Store editors won’t feature a ‘buggy’ app. It is important to ensure that your app is of the highest quality. It should be simple, intuitive and useful. To grab the attention of the Apple editors – and to get their seal of approval – make your app great, and make sure you have eliminated as many bugs as possible.
2. To be featured, be native
Again it makes sense that Apple has a preference to feature apps that are built on iOS frameworks, not cross-platform. It could, therefore, be an idea to lead with iOS development and build a native iOS app. Native apps usually are of a higher quality, and give the user a better experience than hybrid or cross-platform apps.
3. Incorporate the latest releases and announced at WWDC
Apple has and always will promote their own products, so some advice: think of Apple when you’re developing your App, but only if that is not at the cost of your user experience. Pay attention to what is released and announced at WWDC every year. Finally, use Apple’s latest features. Incorporate some of Apple’s latest technology into your app, again only if it makes sense to do so.
4. No one likes outdated apps
The answer to this is the easiest to answer – frequently update your app. This will ensure it stays relevant to your users and illustrates to Apple that you care.
It can be anything from new features to technical adjustments or bug fixes. It’s crucial to remember that Apple loves to feature apps who use the latest technology, so think about implementing 3D Touch in creative ways, using HealthKit to share data between apps, or even integrate with connected home hardware and HomeKit.
A frequently updated app will improve your rankings and the update itself could earn you a feature.
5. Be universal, be an Apple advocate
Be available across the Apple ecosystem. On iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and incorporate Apple Pay if it makes sense to do so. The more Apple devices you cater for, the more loyal you are in the eyes of Apple.
6. Create your own individual space in App Store
The new App Store now allows product pages for individual apps. Make yours stand out and let the user know why they cannot live without your app. Write an informative, well-written and optimised app description.
Don’t forget about high quality screenshots and a video, which is now supported on the app home screen.
7. Be King of the icons
Design a memorable, unique and creative Icon. It’s the first thing people will see about your app, so you have to make users think, “Oh, that looks interesting, what is that?”.
Your icon has to illustrate what you focus area is, and your icon needs to stand out in an ocean full of fish.
8. Be so good, that they can’t ignore you
Your ranking factor is important because it’s reflective of the user experience. The sweet spot is 4.5 or higher. Good ratings come from apps that are useful and really easy to use. Most importantly, design an experience that users will want to come back to and use again and again.
9. Remember – the featured apps are chosen by humans
As mentioned, it is real people and not robots or algorithms that choose the apps to be featured.
While the exact details of how Apple chooses which apps to feature and what criteria they use are still unknown, it needs to appeal to people who have an eye for detail.
Imagine, for instance, that your app is being reviewed by Steve Jobs – that will get you far. In other words, the app needs to appeal and care about the end-users, not just be built to tick boxes in search algorithms.
In other words, the app needs to appeal to the human kind caring about the end-users, not just be built to tick boxes in search algorithms.
10. Choose the right day of the week
Yes, there actually is a right day of the week to release your app. Thursday is the App Store list curation day, so if you release your app on Friday, you’ll have to wait a week to be picked up in the lists. A good idea is to release it on Tuesday or Wednesday.
11. Better late than never
In this specific example, it’s actually better to be featured later rather than getting featured earlier in the process. If your app is featured early on, your product might not actually be mature or stable enough to keep users interested.
You’re also going to lose users who aren’t patient enough to stick with your app throughout this growing period. And, once users are gone, they’re not going to come back.
12. Reach out to the editors
Apple gets thousands of emails asking them to feature an app but don’t underestimate this option though. Writing a short and powerful email could grab someone’s attention. To make this slightly easier, Apple has created a form that can only be accessed via their developer portal: https://www.appstore.com/Promote.
Developers and marketing teams can fill in this form and submit 6-8 weeks before the app launches in the App Store.
13. Be seasonal in your target markets
The second to last point is to be seasonal because during holidays people get new devices – which means they need to download apps.
Christmas Day has the highest number of app downloads for a 24hr period, so consider how you can utilise an update or feature to cater to this high user influx.
14. Pay close attention to your analytics
Our last point is maybe the most important. It’s not about downloads but retention. If Apple can see that you have a high rate of returning users and/or long session times, e.g. use the app for more than a couple of minutes each time, you significantly improve your chances of being featured.
There are many things you can implement to help your chances of being featured with Apple. There is nothing else to do now apart from trying to implement at least a few of the above mentioned and start paying attention to your analytics.
If you have any questions about our projects or how we build our apps, feel free to get in touch!