Announcing the App Store Award Finalists

For over a decade, the App Store editorial team has taken a moment at the end of the year to celebrate the very best apps and games. As always, we focus on technical innovation, user experience, and design. Then we consider the impact these apps and games have had on our lives. 

iPhone App of the Year Finalists

AllTrailsDuolingoFlighty

These apps helped us explore a new language, the hiking trails in our community, and the world at large.

iPhone Game of the Year Finalists

AfterplaceHonkai: Star RailVampire Survivors

Our favourite iPhone games sent us on unforgettable intergalactic voyages, into the jaws of monstrous hordes, and to a fantasy land filled with surprises (and wry humour).

iPad App of the Year Finalists

ConceptsDaVinci ResolvePrêtàMakeup

This year we learned to express our creativity through multiple mediums—doodles, digital film, and daring makeup looks.

iPad Game of the Year Finalists

Lost in PlayPocket City 2

Want to build an incredible city? Journey through a child’s imagination? Meet this year’s iPad Game of the Year finalists.

Mac App of the Year Finalists

Linearity CurvePhotomatorPortal

Skillfully designed graphics, state-of-the-art photo editing, and mesmerizing escapes. We were instantly immersed in the worlds these apps transported us to—or inspired us to create.

Mac Game of the Year Finalists

ELEX IILies of PReturn to Monkey Island

Whether you’re pointing and clicking through a swashbuckling adventure, duelling deranged puppets, or jetpacking across a post-apocalyptic world, the power of Apple silicon brings these brilliant games to life.

Download these games on the Mac App Store.

Apple Arcade Game of the Year Finalists

CityscapesHello Kitty Island AdventureStitch

Apple Arcade delivered endless entertainment this year. We embroidered beautiful patterns, simulated a sprawling metropolis, and made adorable friends on a tropical island.

Apple Watch App of the Year Finalists

PlannySmartGymTide Guide

This year’s finalists had us checking off our to-do lists, checking out the tides, and checking on our gains at the gym.

Apple TV App of the Year Finalists

BugsnaxFitOnMUBI

Whether you’re kicking back with a good movie, kicking it up with cardio, or kicking some butt—our Apple TV finalists make it look amazing on the big screen.

Cultural Impact Finalists

BalanceEndlingFinding HannahHow to Say GoodbyePok PokProloquoRebel Girls, Too Good To GoUnpacking

By telling little known stories that deserve to be heard and helping us care for ourselves and loved ones, these apps and games improved the world for us all.

Mobile apps see a surge in consumer use and spending

Consumers spent $100 billion on mobile apps faster than ever this year and emerging markets saw a big increase in app use.

The mobile app market continues its rapid growth as consumers spend more time and money on apps than ever before, according to data.ai’s latest quarterly research. Consumers spent $100 billion on mobile apps faster than ever in 2023.

AI is here. In the third quarter, two of the top three breakout apps by download growth were AI-powered: ChatGPT and Remini, a photo editing app that uses AI to enhance photos. This trend is likely to continue as AI technology becomes more sophisticated and affordable.

Other standout areas of growth and top apps in the last quarter include:

  • Fitness apps: Strava, AllTrails, onX Hunt, and Runna.
  • Social apps: Instagram.
  • Video streaming apps: ReelShort.
  • Games: Monopoly GO.

Why we care. It might seem self-evident, but more and more consumers are using their smartphones to access the internet and interact with brands. If your brand doesn’t have a focus on mobile-first marketing, perhaps it should.

Downloads: Does the public want a better-managed version of X/Twitter? Threads, the microblogging social app launched by Meta at the start of the quarter, skyrocketed up the charts, reaching 150 million downloads faster than any other app in history. This was enough to propel it to the top spot by overall downloads in the quarter with 236 million, just ahead of TikTok’s 229 million downloads in the quarter.

However, it’s important to note that 80% of these downloads came in July, the first month of its launch. This suggests that Threads’ initial popularity was largely due to its reliance on Instagram’s large base of users to port over easily. In August and September, downloads declined to 25 million and 19.5 million, respectively.

Two other apps to pay attention to:

  • Temu: The shopping app continued its ascent in Q3. It climbed to the #3 spot after ranking as the #5 breakout app in the first half of this year. It was the top breakout app across European Union markets like France, Germany, Italy and Spain (as Threads is not yet available in the EU).
  • TikTok Music: Another app to keep an eye on is TikTok Music, which soft-launched in Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Australia and Singapore during Q3. It was the #10 breakout app in Brazil during the quarter.

Another notable trend is the increasing popularity of apps from and in emerging markets. In the third quarter, three of the six markets where consumers spend more than five hours per day in apps were in APAC: Indonesia (six hours!), Thailand and India. 

Constantine von Hoffman on October 17, 2023 at 3:40 pm

App Store Marketing Tools

Generate short links or embeddable code that lead to your App Store product page and display your app icon, a QR code, or an App Store badge. You can also create custom marketing assets — such as banners and images — and add preset messages in multiple languages to promote your apps in your advertising efforts.

View the tools

Providing safe app experiences for families

The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for users to get apps, and a great business opportunity for developers. Apple platforms and the apps you build have become important to many families, as children use our products and services to explore the digital world and communicate with family and friends. We hold apps for kids and those with user-generated content and interactions to the highest standards. To continue delivering safe experiences for families together, we wanted to remind you about the tools, resources, and requirements that are in place to help keep users safe in your app.

Made for Kids

If you have an app that’s intended for kids, we encourage you to use the Kids category, which is designed for families to discover age-appropriate content and apps that meet higher standards that protect children’s data and offer added safeguards for purchases and permissions (e.g., for Camera, Location, etc).

Learn more about building apps for Kids.

Parental controls

Your app’s age rating is integrated into our operating systems and works with parental control features, like Screen Time. Additionally, with Ask To Buy, when kids want to buy or download a new app or in-app purchase, they send a request to the family organizer. You can also use the Managed Settings framework to ensure the content in your app is appropriate for any content restrictions that may have been set by a parent. The Screen Time API is a powerful tool for parental control and productivity apps to help parents manage how children use their devices. Learn more about the tools we provide to support parents to help them know, and feel good about, what kids are doing on their devices.

Sensitive and inappropriate content

Apps with user-generated content and interactions must include a set of safeguards to protect users, including a method for filtering objectionable material from being posted to the app, a mechanism to report offensive content and support timely responses to concerns, and the ability to block abusive users. Apps containing ads must include a way for users to report inappropriate and age-inappropriate ads.

iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and watchOS 10, introduce the ability to detect and alert users to nudity in images and videos before displaying them onscreen. The Sensitive Content Analysis framework uses on-device technology to detect sensitive content in your app. Tailor your app experience to handle detected sensitive content appropriately for users that have Communication Safety or Sensitive Content Warning enabled.

Supporting users

​Users have multiple ways to report issues with an app, like Report a Problem. Users can also communicate app feedback to other users and developers by writing reviews of their own; users can Report a Concern with other individual user reviews. You should closely monitor your user reviews to improve the safety of your app, and have the ability to address concerns directly. Additionally, if you believe another app presents a trust or safety concern, or is in violation of our guidelines, you can share details with Apple to investigate.

These user review tools are critical to informing the work we do to keep the App Store safe. Apple deploys a combination of machine learning, automation, and human review to monitor concerns related to abuse submitted via user reviews and Report a Problem. We monitor for topics of concern such as reports of fraud and scams, copycat violations, inappropriate content and advertising, privacy and safety concerns, objectionable content and child exploitation; and use techniques such as semi-supervised Correlation Explanation (CorEx) models, and Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT)-based large language models specifically trained to recognize these topics. Flagged topics are then surfaced to our App Review team, who investigate the app further and take action if violations of our guidelines are found.

We believe we have a shared mission with you as developers to create a safe and trusted experience for families, and look forward to continuing that important work. Here are some resources that you may find helpful:

Sensitive Content Analysis framework

Learn about Ratings, Reviews, and Responses

Report a Trust & Safety concern related to another app

Learn about the ScreenTime Framework

Learn about building apps for Kids

All you need to know from WWDC 2023

Here is everything you need to know from today’s WWDC Conference. A major push to #VR and the #Metaverse with Apple Vision Pro. Lots of news to review and digest.

App Analytics: peer group benchmarks

Put your app’s performance into context using peer group benchmarks, which compare your app’s performance to that of similar apps on the App Store. Peer group benchmarks provide powerful new insights across the customer journey, enabling you to identify what works well in your app and what can be improved. Apps are placed into groups based on their App Store category, business model, and download volume to ensure relevant comparisons. Using industry-leading differential privacy techniques, peer group benchmarks provide relevant and actionable insights — all while keeping the performance of individual apps private.

Getting Featured on the App Store

The App Store showcases great apps and games that impact the lives of people around the world, helping to shine a spotlight on developers doing incredible work. Apple’s always looking to highlight new apps, games, significant updates, in-app events, and great stories.

Overview

The App Store has a global team focused on helping users discover and engage with apps and games that fit their needs. Campaigns and programs are created to help, inform, and inspire users while also helping you drive downloads and redownloads. Apple worldwide team of editors curates selections on the App Store for each Apple platform in order to help your app or game get in front of the right users, in the right places, at the right times.

Apple highlight new apps and games as well as those with significant updates, special in-app events or exclusives, cultural or seasonal moments, and more. Apple also highlights unique stories — for example, a behind-the-scenes look at how a developer launched an app that changed an industry or supported their community, or a spotlight that shows how an app helped a user solve an uncommon problem.

Factors Apple considers

Apple looks for high-quality apps and games across all categories and business models. There is no paid placement or checklist of requirements. Selection is based on a variety of factors, all of which amount to a great product that all customers will love.

UI design. Great usability, appeal, and overall quality — such as beautiful visuals or intuitive gestures and controls.

User experience. Cohesive, efficient, and valuable functionality that’s helpful and easy to use.

Innovation. Solves a unique problem for users or takes advantage of new technologies to provide an optimal user experience.

Uniqueness. Stands out from the crowd, defines a new genre, or takes a fresh approach to a familiar category.

Accessibility. Well-integrated features that provide a great experience for a broad range of users.

Localization. High-quality and relevant localizations, including culturally appropriate content and support for multiple languages.

App Store product page. Compelling screenshots, app previews, and descriptions, as well as ratings and reviews.

Additional considerations for games:

  • Gameplay design
  • Art and animation
  • Controls
  • Story and characters (if applicable)
  • Replayability (if applicable)
  • Sound effects and music
  • Technical performance
  • Overall value

Share your story with Apple

Contact Apple

Apple World Wide Developer Conference 23

June 5 – 9, 2023. Apple Park, California

Mark your calendars for an exhilarating week of technology and community. Be among the first to learn the latest about Apple platforms, technologies, and tools. You’ll also have the opportunity to engage with Apple experts and other developers. All online and at no cost.

Meet with App Store experts

February 28 to April 13, 2023

Want to make your product pages even better? Have questions about in-app events or implementing subscriptions? Connect with App Store experts and learn how you can make the most of these features. Discover how to attract new customers, test marketing strategies, optimize subscriptions, and so much more. Live presentations with Q&A will be held in multiple time zones and languages.

Registration is open to members of the Apple Developer Program. 

Custom product pages

Create additional versions of your App Store product page, each of which highlights a feature or specific content, then share a page’s unique URL in your corresponding marketing efforts.

iPhone showing App Store product page for Mountain Climber app featuring bike trails
iPhone showing App Store product page for Mountain Climber app featuring hiking trails
iPhone showing App Store product page for Mountain Climber app featuring rock climbing

Overview

You can create additional versions of your App Store product page on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 or later to showcase different features or content within your app — such as a particular sport, character, show, or gameplay feature — and share them with different audiences through unique URLs. You can also use these pages to showcase seasonal or culturally relevant content. Each custom product page can include screenshots, promotional text, and app previews that are different from those on your default product page.

Configuring in App Store Connect

When creating a custom product page in App Store Connect, you can choose to start with a copy of your default product page or a blank page. You can then customize screenshots, promotional text, and app previews for any of your page’s localizations. Any metadata you provide must be submitted for review, which you can do independent of an app update. You can also use the App Store Connect API to automate metadata upload and submission for your custom product pages. You can have up to 35 custom product pages per app published on the App Store at a time. For a smooth review experience, make sure your screenshots and app previews follow the specifications and that all metadata follows the App Store Review Guidelines.

Marketing custom product pages

Once you’ve created a custom product page, you can use its unique URL to share it through your marketing efforts, such as social media advertising or promotional communications. For example, you can promote a sports team in an email campaign and link to the custom product page that highlights that team. The unique URL adds a new product page ID parameter to the default product page URL. For example: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mountain-climber/id12345678?ppid=45812c9b-c296-43d3-c6a0-c5a02f74bf6e

Custom product pages don’t appear when someone searches for your app or game on the App Store (except as a search results ad that you created with Apple Search Ads). However, they may appear in editorially curated selections on the Today, Games, and Apps tabs.

Advertising networks can also use custom product pages in StoreKit-rendered advertisements. They’ll use the custom product page ID as the customProductPageIdentifier when using SKOverlay, or as the SKStoreProductParameterCustomProductPageIdentifier when using SKStoreProductViewController.

Apple Search Ads lets you create Today tab ads and search results ad variations based on your eligible custom product pages. Tailor ad messaging and images for different audiences, feature launches, or seasonal promotions when you set up your campaign. Learn more about Apple Search Ads.

Measuring success

Once your custom product pages are live, you can measure their performance in App Analytics in App Store Connect. Under the Acquisition tab, you’ll see product page impressions, downloads, redownloads, and conversion rates to understand how effective each page is at encouraging app downloads. You can also view retention data and average proceeds per paying user for each custom product page. Additionally, you can compare the performance of your custom product pages against your default product page, and see whether people who downloaded your app from a custom product page stay engaged longer or spend more on in-app purchases.

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