iOS 17 Announcements: What Does Apple Have in Store for ASO?
Nearly a month after Google’s I/O Conference, last week was Apple’s turn to share their upcoming product releases at their annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). While the conference focuses essentially on technology and hardware, pre-recorded sessions shared throughout the week have presented some of the new iOS and App Store Connect features that will impact ASO in months to come.
Product page optimization (PPO) to become more viable
Although no new major App Store feature was announced at WWDC 2023, one announcement that will have many ASO practitioners rejoice regards product page optimization.
As of June 2023, the App Store’s A/B testing tool will no longer interrupt ongoing experiments whenever a new app version is published via App Store Connect. Until now, this practice had been a major hindrance for marketers, who would not be able to see their A/B tests reach sufficient statistical significance due to the short release cycles of apps they work for.
Additionally, it is worth noting that Apple also stated marketers will be able to monitor data in their tests as they are running, meaning it will be easier to review the trend of a given experiment live.
Another improvement Apple is making in 2023 for app developers is the possibility to make an app available for pre-order in new markets where it is not yet distributed.
- Previously, Apple would only allow developers to make unreleased apps available for pre-order. Whereas, now, developers will be able to launch a new app in certain markets (for instance, to test early organic performance and/or the efficiency of marketing messages) and later start a pre-order campaign for other markets, where they want to scale quickly.
In practice, this means apps and games who are looking to soft launch their games in certain territories ahead of the official global launch will be able to do soandstart a pre-order campaign for their key markets.
- Apple is also allowing apps that have been released in at least one market to expand the duration of their pre-order campaigns up to 365 days in additional markets. There are also improvements in App Store Connect, so developers can use custom product pages (CPPs) and product page optimization (PPO) for apps on pre-order.
New invocations & size limit for App Clips
A third announcement that may have gone unnoticed regards App Clips. Introduced in iOS 14, App Clips are bite-sized experiences that app developers can create to give glimpses of their apps and let users try out certain functionalities without having to download the app itself.
With iOS 17, Apple will allow developers to build bigger App Clips (up to 50 MB, whereas the limit is at 15MB in iOS 16) and add two new ways to trigger the App Clip. This includes a URL for each App Clip. These improvements, combined with new documentation to help any app able to support the invocation of an App Clip, appears to be a play to incentivize more app developers to use App Clips, particularly in gaming.
The examples shared during the session suggest that using App Clips to offer tutorial-like experiences of gameplay as well as the ability to invoke an app clip straight from inside the app would allow game developers to cross-promote their games in a new fashion.
“Vision Pro” A/R headset
Though the following announcements have less direct impact for ASO practitioners, you should not forget that Apple’s introduction of their new Vision Pro A/R headset adds one new platform where you can distribute your apps. Specifically, developers who do not wish to take particular advantage of the functionalities offered by the headset and develop a specific experience can simply port their iPhone and iPad apps to Vision Pro’s xrOS via App Store Connect.
This option, as well as the use of new APIs, kits, and iOS features released by Apple at WWDC will offer as many opportunities to increase chances of getting your app featured in the weeks that follow the release of iOS 17 next September.
Questions remain regarding the introduction of sideloading
As was expected by most, the one topic Apple did not address at WWDC was the upcoming requirement to allow for the sideloading of apps (the ability to download an app without going to the App Store) in European countries, which Apple will have to comply with by March 1, 2024. Though rumors have circulated since last December that Apple will introduce the possibility with iOS 17, given the March 2024 deadline will arrive before the following release of iOS, no details were shared at WWDC regarding the specific timetable.
This is most likely a tactical choice by Apple to avoid giving visibility to rumors of Microsoft and other companies planning to release alternative app stores for iOS. It does not mean the change won’t be introduced in 2023. Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing to the fact that some major changes like App Tracking Transparency or ASO features introduced in iOS 15 were only released several months after their respective official OS release.
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