The WWDC keynote can be a stressful time for app developers. You never know quite what is going to be presented when that famous "one more thing" is revealed. Whether it's a whole new programming language to learn, or Apple suddenly takes the key selling feature of your number one app and makes those features part of the native operating system, the surprises aren't always welcome for developers. While consumers were dazzled by some of the fun new features their Apple products would be giving them this fall, app developers listened anxiously yesterday to learn what features of the new iOS 8 might help or hinder their product marketing efforts.
1. Videos in the app store
They say a picture is worth a thousand words... which makes a video worth a thousand pictures. App developers will now be allowed a short video to be added in the first position of your app store screenshots, which will take up the full screen when played. Android has had this feature for a while, and Google has claimed that it is one of the most important aspects of getting your app downloaded once a user is on your app store page. It is unclear yet what restrictions are being put on the videos – Apple has a long history of regulating what can and cannot be in the app screenshots, though the enforcement of those rules is sometimes spotty. For example, we do not know if the video must only be screen capture of the app in use, or if developers will be allowed to make more trailer-like videos. It is important to note that the ideal orientation of these videos is portrait to fit an upright iPhone screen, not landscape like most videos for YouTube and other channels.
2. App Bundles
For developers that have an extensive portfolio of apps, the ability to sell multiple apps together at one (presumably discounted) price is a huge advantage when trying to grab valuable screen real estate on a user's iOS device. Travel app companies could sell sets of guides for multiple cities in the same area, while gaming companies could easily bundle in sequels with their original counterparts. It will be interesting to see how free apps play into the bundle scheme – a developer could make it so that if you wanted to get their two premium apps at a bundle price, you had to also download one of their free apps as well.
Widgets are micro features of an app that can be integrated into the notification center of your iOS device. The example given on stage was eBay, showing off a widget that would allow the user to change their bid on an auction without ever having to open the actual eBay app. It will be interesting to see what other micro-features can be added into this notification section, and app marketers should seriously consider how widgets can help provide solutions to the problem of user engagement. With one more way to talk to your user, your app is more likely to have engaged users, which is more important than ever with the ever growing options available in the app store.
Extensibility is the ability for apps to more fully integrate with the deeper iOS operating system, allowing app functions to be made available while in other applications. Through this, photo apps like Instagram could provide their filters in the native photo app, or a translation app could show you a German language web page in English on Safari. While not obviously a marketing tool – the savvy app marketer knows that expanding your apps features into more areas in the phone will create more reliance on your app by the user. More reliance generally means more usage, which can lead to additional ad revenue, social sharing, in app purchases for additional features, or simply consumer goodwill which can translate into that hard to control "word of mouth" that we all desire for our apps.
Aaron Watkins is the President and Founder of Appency, the world leading app marketing agency dedicated to helping app developers and brands succeed in the mobile app economy. Appency, which launched in 2009, has helped hundreds of app developers achieve success in the app store and have had clients in the top 10 of nearly every app store category.