The latest App Store ASO news ⎮ Fall 2021

App Store Optimization (ASO)

November 29, 2021

Are you up to date with all the latest App Store news? Even though we’re still waiting for Product Page Optimization and Product Page Customization to drop, there have been some changes lately on the App Store, and we’re here to run them down for you.

In-App events are finally here!

The biggest ASO news for the platform is definitely the much-anticipated release of in-app events (IAE). Announced a few months ago during WWDC 2021, and sadly not available for iOS 15’s launch in September, developers can now create IAE, just in time for the holiday season.

In-App Events are a great marketing tool to promote your app inside the App Store. Not only does it give you more visibility, but it’s also a good way to show users that your app is still active and that there’s a lot happening within it.

Quick reminder, you can only publish five in-app events at the same time. They will be showcased on app pages, in search results, personal recommendations, and collections. The different types of IAE include Challenge, Competition, Major Update, Premiere, New Season, Special Event, and Live Event. 

Once your event is approved by Apple Review, you’ll be able to promote it up to two weeks before the start of the event, and the event page will remain available for 30 days after the end of the event through its unique URL.   

You will need to prepare creative assets when getting ready for the launch of your first IAP, such as a name, a short description, a time indicator, and of course either an image or a video.

Creative assets specs for IAP ⎮ Apple 

When preparing your assets, remember to avoid using text or logo in your visuals, CTA in titles, and to always use proper grammar. Once your event is ready to go, you can pitch it to Apple’s editorial team and try your luck at being featured in the Today, Games, and Apps tabs.

App Analytics’ new features will let you track event impressions, where users saw your event, if they opened the app, downloaded or redownloaded it, and if they enabled notifications.

App Analytics gains new tools

App Analytics got itself some new metrics! All these new metrics are here to help you understand what drives your app’s growth (and monitor the success of new features like in-app events). Let’s check what’s new:

  • Each metric can now be displayed by territory, source type, device, and more
  • You now have access to redownloads, proceeds, pre-orders, and updates
  • App Units are now first-time downloads
  • Total downloads include first-time downloads, redownloads and institutional purchases (only if it’s applicable to your app of course)

Apple pre-installed apps can now be rated

If you thought it was unfair that every app in the App Store could be rated except Apple’s native apps, your time has come! With the launch of iOS 15 came the opportunity for users to rate the firm’s pre-installed apps. Some of them are more successful than others!

source: Business of Apps

The whole 28 pre-installed apps ratings average to 3.4 stars in total, with the highest number of ratings being between 3 and 3.5 stars. The lowest rated app was Apple Podcast, which rocked a 1.8 stars average before jumping up to 4.6 stars. What drove this huge improvement? Well, it appears that after the most recent change in Apple’s rating prompt inside the app, most of the Podcast app ratings are actually users rating and reviewing podcasts and not the app itself.

When can we expect native A/B testing and Custom Product Pages?

Announced during Apple’s 2021 WWDC, both Product Page Optimization (the name Apple gave to its native A/B testing tool) and Product Page Customization were first expected to launch with iOS 15. However, when iOS 15 was finally released to the public on September 20, PPO and PPC were nowhere to be found. 

There’s still no further news on the availability timeline of these highly anticipated features. So far, Apple has only said they should be available “later this year”, which implies that we should gain access to it before 2022 comes but nothing’s certain.

It’s been assumed that the delay is due to the need for a large enough sample of iOS 15 users (especially for Product Page Optimization, Apple’s native A/B testing option). User adoption of iOS 15 has been steadily increasing, as of Monday 15th November, 43,43% of iOS users had installed iOS 15 (with 51,50% of total users still using iOS 14).

iOS 15 adoption rate ⎮ Mixpanel

Need a little reminder? Check out this article to understand what Product Page Optimization is and why it will be a great addition to the App Store. And this one to see how Product Page Customization can help you boost your UA campaigns.

Side payment should be coming soon to the App Store

The Epic trial’s judge denied Apple’s request for a delay in the application of the injunction condemning their anti-steering practices. Apple’s deadline to comply with the decision is December 9th. By then, external payment options should be allowed on the App Store.

While we don’t know exactly how it will be implemented, it’s going to happen soon. Apple already updated one of its App Store guidelines. They removed a section of the 3.1.3 guideline, meaning that developers are now able to collect user information and use it to communicate with them outside of the app. This change was made in compliance with the ruling of the class-action lawsuit spearheaded by US developers. 

The Epic trial’s decision will make Apple rewrite its anti-steering policies and allow developers to link their own payment methods. In the words of Apple’s attorney Mark Perry, “this will be the first time Apple has ever allowed live links in an app for digital content”. Quite an important moment.

However, there is no sign that this is something that will be implemented globally, so far, only US developers seem to be concerned by this upcoming change. Following the Japan Fair Trade Commission ruling and the new South-Korean law, Japanese and Korean developers could potentially be allowed an external payment option as well.

Even if Apple has to, admittedly reluctantly, let outside payments in the App Store, they have made their stance against side loading clear over the years. Apple has always been keen on keeping a strong control over its products, the Epic trial may have forced the arrival of some changes but they are still holding down the fort. 

During the Web Summit 2021, Apple’s senior VP, Craig Federighi, vehemently condemned side-loading and criticized the European Union’s Digital Market Act (which aims to authorize side-loading on all phones). He even called side-loading a “cyber criminal’s best friend”.

The App Store may be forced to accept outside payment, but they’re ready to fight back against third-party app stores and side-loading.

No holiday break for the App Store Connect this year

Every year, Apple shuts down the App Store Connect platform during the holiday season. This usually means that for the duration of it (a week), developers can’t submit new apps or updates for reviews. 

2021 will be the first year during which the App Store Connect platform will stay open. However, developers should be careful. The submission may still be accepted, but due to anticipated high volume, Apple still advises “to send time-sensitive submissions early”. 

Reviews are expected to take longer to complete around Thanksgiving (November 24 to 28) and Christmas (December 23 to 27), which have been dubbed the App Store’s busiest season.

Have you seen other App Store news lately? When do you think Product Page Optimization and Product Page Customization will be launched? Tell us in the comments!

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