On September 1, Apple began notifying users that have submitted apps to the App Store about upcoming changes. If you are an app developer, you should already be familiar with this notification. If you are new to the app business or you’ve just put together your first app, you are in the right place.
The wordage that Apple uses can be unnerving if you already have an app available in their store. Towards the very beginning of their communication, Apple includes this statement: “We will begin the process of reviewing and removing apps from the App Store on September 7, 2016.”
Removing apps? That alone is enough to make any app creator’s stomach churn. There over “2 million apps available” on the App Store, and the App Store averaged 140 billion downloads per day in September of 2016. Simply put, it is one of the best places for your app to be discovered by new users.
Don’t be fooled by the data that claims that iOS only accounts for a small percentage of mobile app downloads. iOS dominates market share, claiming 83% more revenue than its Android competition. Therefore, being present in the App Store is imperative to remain competitive in the mobile app market. Furthermore, being removed from the App Store could spell disaster for your app’s success.
With so much on the line, it is important to know what these App Store improvements mean and how you can avoid having your mobile app removed.
Why is Apple doing this?
First, it is important to address why Apple is making these changes. It isn’t to make the life of mobile developers harder. If you are doing everything right (updating your app regularly, improving functionality, meeting consumer needs) as you already should be, then Apple won’t remove your app.
Apple’s aim is to eliminate the apps that don’t launch correctly or that have been neglected for a long period of time. Apple defines this as apps that haven’t been updated in a long time or have little developer activity. 15% of the apps that are submitted to the App Store are reported to have bugs or to function improperly. It’s in your best interest as a developer to assure that your app is working. Not only does it protect your business, but it also protects the integrity of the online shopping environment.
Again, there are over 2 million apps in the App Store, which means there is bound to be a percentage that are no longer functioning correctly or are no longer being updated, as their developers have moved on to other projects or apps.
In other words, Apple is simply trying to make the App Store better for its users by doing some Fall cleaning. They don’t want their platform to be flooded with apps that no longer work, or never worked to begin with, as this damages their customer experience.
For you, this can actually be a good thing. Less clutter on the App Store means your mobile apps are more likely to get noticed, as long as you do your due diligence in updating and keeping up with the new store standards. In fact, studies show that apps ranked among the top 100 apps in the iOS store are updated more frequently than their competition. So, if you want your app to rank among the best, you should be keeping it up to date anyway.
Is my app going to be removed?
According to Apple, the App Store team will reach out to you via e-mail if your app is on the chopping block. You have thirty days to make the necessary changes to meet these new standards. Again, this will likely involve updating or improving the app’s functionality. It could also be due to the name of your app. (We’ll get to this later.)
If you cannot manage to make the changes in those thirty days, your app will be removed from the App Store until you submit an update that is approved by the Apple team. This thirty day window should make you rest easy knowing that your app won’t suddenly disappear from the App Store. It gives any developer plenty of time to start updating their offerings.
However, Apple is going to immediately remove any app that continuously crashes at launch.
What happens to the name of my app if it is removed?
A lot of mobile developers are worried that if their apps are removed, even temporarily, the name of the app will become available on the App Store. With 63% of app store shoppers admitting that they browse the store to see cool new apps, it makes sense that developers and businesses are worried about keeping their app’s name. After all, a name pretty much says it all. Luckily, this isn’t the case.
The name of your app(s) will still be associated with your Apple user account. No other developer can swoop in and grab it while you’re taking the time to update to the new standards.
That said, the App Store is changing its naming policies. Specifically, they are trying to limit an app’s name to just 50 characters. This is in an effort to improve the quality of the platform’s search engine optimization practices. In the past, developers have made mobile apps with long titles that included descriptions and keywords to try and influence the App Store’s search function.
This is an effort to improve the user’s experience while browsing the App Store, just as Google has continuously updated its search algorithms. For the majority of app developers, this change in the App Store’s naming policies will have very little impact.
What can I do to stay on good terms with Apple?
These changes are both beneficial for the user and app developer. If you have been doing your due diligence and consistently improving your mobile app experience, you are already adhering to Apple’s new standards, and there is little, if any, extra effort needed to remain on good terms.
The overarching mission of these changes is to encourage a consistent effort, on the behalf of the developer, to improve mobile apps to meet emerging trends, technologies and customer needs. Apple is simply stepping up to give their consumers what they want—high-quality functioning apps.
Thus, any app developer has the means to easily meet the new Apple App Store requirements by having a dedication to continuous monitoring and updating of their mobile app efforts. Even a small update, hotfix, or other change will demonstrate this attitude to the App Store team.
Change can be unnerving, especially with the prospect of having your mobile app removed from the App Store. But, all of these improvements are just that; improvements. While it may require some initial work for app developers to accommodate these changes, they will ultimately increase app discovery on the App Store for mobile developers that are putting in the necessary work. The mobile app market is still evolving and there will be undoubtedly be future changes; part of the developer journey is quickly identifying and adapting to these improvements.