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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Schiller: major App Store changes coming this year

Schiller: major App Store changes coming this year
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NewsPoster
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Jun 8, 2016, 03:44 PM
 
Six months after taking over the management of the App Store, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller is planning a number of very bold changes to the iOS App Store -- some of which are very likely to spread to the Mac App Store and other online Apple media stores -- that directly address concerns from both developers and customers regarding app reviews (the progress on which has already been seen), app discovery, and new business models -- including subscription consolidation, and a limited form of advertising.

In a chat with Loop Insight editor Jim Dalrymple, Schiller noted the changes already made to the App Review process, saying that changes made to the team and the way the company reviews apps has already resulted in a drop in review "holds" from around five days to (typically) one day, to the delight of developers. Schiller noted that Apple will never drop the app review process, "because it matters" -- not only protecting customers from flawed or malicious software, but protecting developers by ensuring quality control.

Schiller noted that the App Store review team processes about 100,000 apps per week, and thus had to develop processes that would streamline the process while still keeping up the quality level that developers and customers expect. Apple's app review panel goes far beyond the efforts of other platform stores to weed out and prevent malware, controversial apps, or privacy-compromising programs from getting into the store. Schiller noted that under the improved system, about 50 percent of apps are approved within 24 hours, and 90 percent clear the review in 48 hours.

In the course of the interview, Schiller also directly addressed the ongoing complaint from developers and customers about the difficulty of new app discovery in the present App Store. While Apple has done a lot of independent (and unpaid or uninfluenced by developers) promotion of new games, new apps, and other ways to draw attention to apps (for example, through "App Collections,") it has been seen as not being enough. Schiller said the "Featured" section of the store will soon show users only those apps the users does not already have installed, as recently spotted happening on the tvOS App Store.

The company is also considering bringing back the "Categories" tab, and will launch a social-sharing feature activated through 3D Touch of an app, as well as continuing to let developers promote social-network sharing about apps inside their programs. In what may be a controversial move, Schiller also noted that the App Store will start accepting ads from app developers, under some strict guidelines, to foster more app discovery. Ads will be clearly marked, but be identical to an Apple product listing.

In addition, no third-party ads will be accepted, noted Schiller. There will be no minimums or exclusives to help smaller developers level the playing field. Apple will not share click counts or user data with developers, instead getting generalized reports. If the user can be determined to be younger than 13 years old, the ads will not be displayed, and all ads will be sold via an auction system. The program will roll out in beta this summer in the US store, with Apple watching the results carefully to prevent any "gaming" of the system.

App collections and other Apple-based promotions or showcasing of apps will continue to be independent and uninfluenced by developers. "Our store is not for sale-that's not how we handle things," Schiller said. "We are only going to do this if we can, first and foremost, respect the user and be fair to developers, especially small developers."

Likewise, the store will also be altering terms dealing with subscriptions, giving developers a break on the percentage it takes past the first year. Currently, Apple keeps 30 percent of any in-app subscriptions, but developers will move from a 70-30 split to an 85-15 split in their favor for subscriptions going beyond the first year, and this will be applied to current apps as well as new ones. Further, the subscription option will be expanded to be available to other types of apps beyond primarily publications, and developers will soon have the option of offering a one-price-for-all subscription that covers all of their apps instead of having to have users subscribe to each one individually.

"Developers will be able to choose one of over 200 subscription price points, and they can create territory specific prices, making subscriptions even more flexible," Dalrymple noted, paraphrasing Schiller's announcements. "If a developer chooses to increase the subscription price, customers will be notified and they will have to authorize that increase. No customer will ever be charged a higher rate without first authorizing it," according to Schiller. In addition, users will be able to easily downgrade, upgrade, or "side-grade" subscriptions, if the developer chooses to make those options available.

As noted, some of the changes are already in progress, but several will be rolled out over time, and will likely spread to all of Apple's various software and media stores as applicable. In the article, Schiller notes that there was not time for this news in the main keynote, and thus wanted to get some of the general information out before the conference so that developers could more quickly get to specifics. This hints at a very news-full main keynote, set for Monday at 10AM Pacific time. MacNN will offer full coverage and analysis of the event, in addition to Apple's live streaming video.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Jun 9, 2016 at 02:13 AM. )
     
aroxnicadi
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Jun 8, 2016, 05:40 PM
 
If I see an app that offers subscriptions, it will be either deleted or not downloaded.
     
Inkling
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Jun 8, 2016, 07:46 PM
 
Changing subscriptions to 85/15 and broadening the reach is a good move. It'll result in the best apps getting even better. I already subscribe to Instapaper and should probably do the same with another favorite, Overcast, particularly if it adds audiobook capabilities and thus doubles its value. One suggestion: I'm a writer and would love for Apple do something similar with the iBookstore. Changing ebook royalties to 80/20 would clearly set Apple off from Amazon and motivate authors and publishers to steer readers to Apple.
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Charles Martin
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Jun 9, 2016, 12:09 PM
 
aroxnicadi: have you told your electric power supplier and landlord of your refusal to have any "subscriptions" in your life? What about your cable TV or Internet provider? Hulu? Netflix? Your newspaper or magazines? Your various insurance providers? I pity the Public Television station in your area of people there share your attitude.

Or are you perhaps being just a teensy bit close-minded, and maybe should wait to see what apps offer subscriptions and why they do so, before deciding if that is right for you? As an example, I subscribe to some digital magazines, because it is far cheaper than buying each individual issue. I presently subscribe to Photoshop (and Lightroom) because it is $10 per month instead of $600-$800 every couple of years.

I wouldn't want to, nor do I expect to, see most things move to a subscription model, and even if some do I would imagine they will also continue to offer the "standalone" price as an option. But there are certainly cases to be made for somethings going to a subscription: Apple Music at $10 a month is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than me buying every single song I ever have or ever will want, for a start ...
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Steve Wilkinson
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Jun 9, 2016, 03:00 PM
 
I just hope they start to work on their search technology. Apple's current state-of-search on the App Store and iTunes brings back bad memories of Alta Vista, or maybe the built-in search on WordPress blogs.

When I want to find something, I use Google and just pray someone has talked about the app on some website with a link to the App Store. Searching the App store usually turns up about everything but what I'm looking for.
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And.reg
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Jun 9, 2016, 03:08 PM
 
What bad memories of Alta Vista? Back in 1999 that and HotBot and DirectHit were the best. Then they all mysteriously vanished.

As for subscriptions, let me make sure I understand. Suppose that I download an app then go somewhere for vacation without internet access. Then I can't use the internet, so I can't verify my app because they can't confirm my subscription, so an app that I subscribed to won't work unless I have internet access. This is immorally wrong.

As for music and iTunes, why can't I be able to play whatever music I want? I take it with me in the car. I have plenty of it on my old iPod Shuffle. I should not require a subscription to play my music.
     
Steve Wilkinson
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Jun 9, 2016, 03:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by And.reg View Post
What bad memories of Alta Vista? Back in 1999 that and HotBot and DirectHit were the best. Then they all mysteriously vanished.
Basically, just crude search technology... like the kind that can't recognize that the term 'sauce' is in the string 'applesauce' or something like that, or has no way of prioritizing the real Angry Bird from the 'Angry Bird' phishing apps, and stuff like that.

While I'm the last person to be praising Big Brother, I mean Google, their search technology is pretty darn awesome. I just wish Apple would make it a bit better.

Originally Posted by And.reg View Post
Suppose that I download an app then go somewhere for vacation without internet access. Then I can't use the internet, so I can't verify my app
Most of these models have a timeout set to some number of weeks, so they aren't authorizing each time you use them. That said, it is a difference to be considered. While either is a license (you don't own it either way) in reality, you could use PhotoShop from 10 years ago on your older computer until it dies and only pay once.

I was actually quite opposed to software subscription models (as well as games on my PlayStation), but when they are priced correctly, with a reputable vendor, it works out pretty well. For example, I don't even have to use the BluRay in my PS4 anymore, and everything I've ever bought is easy to access. Or, in the case of some of the software apps, while it's a monthly/yearly bill, I'm always up to date, and in some cases not really paying much more, if any more, money.

The big thing is watching what you've signed up for, and constantly evaluating use/value. It's easy to keep signing up for stuff that appears to not cost a lot and end up with (budget) death by a thousand paper cuts.

Originally Posted by And.reg View Post
As for music and iTunes, why can't I be able to play whatever music I want? I take it with me in the car. I have plenty of it on my old iPod Shuffle. I should not require a subscription to play my music.
Yea, I'm still not there on the subscription thing for music/movies (aside from Netflix for stuff I'd never directly buy anyway). I'd rather have my music and movies DRM free and usable anywhere.
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