As reported by VentureBeat and others today – Apple has pulled the extremely popular AppGratis from the app store for violating two provisions of the App Store guidelines:
2.25 – Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.
5.6 Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.
While these provisions have been there for a while, there have been very little known enforcement until now. The practice of cross promoting other apps in an app you own via display or push notification is commonplace, and frankly is one of the major ways that app developers can earn revenue.
Particularly of concern is the enforcement of 5.6. A number of apps in the app store today are what I would categorize as “App Discovery” apps – their entire purpose is to facilitate their users to find new apps in the App Store, particularly free ones or ones that go from paid to free. Some examples of these would be:
and plenty more. Most of these apps use push notification to let their users know what apps have gone free or on sale – keeping the user from having to remember to open and check each app every single day. As users – they download these apps specifically for this purpose, opting-in to push notification and with the ability to quickly and easily opt-out if they decide the advertising is not something they wanted in the first place.
App discovery in iTunes is a major problem that gets worse each year. As more and more apps enter the App Store (with few leaving), the ability for new apps to get discovered, or existing apps to stay competitive gets harder and harder. Large developers and brands have the ability to spend big bucks on advertising – but the smaller developer with less resources often only has one good shot at buying advertising due to the cost, and need to get the apps rank high enough for the organic boost that comes from being well ranked in iTunes.
App discovery apps help solve this problem by giving smaller developers the ability to boost their ranking up through a targeted burst of ads. Because push notifications can be delivered to users at a rapid pace, they are able to drive downloads rapidly – and the rate of download of an app seems to be one of the main factors in determining an apps rank. The same number of downloads achieved through display advertising will generally not drive the same lift in rank because with display ads – you have to wait until a user goes into another app, sees an ad, and chooses to click on it and follow through with a download. A process which can take much longer, and has much lower conversion rate leading to a higher cost for the developer.
App discovery apps are also big business. AppGratis claims almost 10 million users, and has $13.5 million dollars in venture backing to support it’s rapid user acquisition. With app ranking being so important to discovery, developers are willing to pay big bucks (and give up revenue by making their app free) in the hope that the burst of new users will create a viral effect and people will start to share the app with friends, or buy select in-app-purchases. After what is often hundreds of hours of development time, it is important that they can drive revenue and put food on their table so that they will continue to improve their apps – a benefit to everyone who owns an iPhone or iPad.
We understood when Apple banned TapJoy’s incentive’s download model – it encouraged downloads of apps not because someone wanted the app, but because they wanted the incentive, creating artificial rank boosts where there was no real interest. We also understood and appreciated when Apple cracked down on “top 25 guaranteed” networks like AppMagenta and Gtekna that seemed to be relying on bot farms to push fake downloads – but apps like AppGratis others are downloaded by users specifically for this purpose. Real people are download the apps these systems promote, and not because they have an incentive to do it other than wanting to save a few bucks on downloads.
As Apple cracks down on legitimate ways to promote apps, they alienate the smaller developers who helped make the App Store what it is today. Will more developers focus their time and efforts on Android where the marketing options are larger and there are multiple distribution options, or will Apple take significant steps to improve the nightmare that is currently iTunes app discovery?
Drop us a comment below and let us know what you think! ~Aaron
We understand that developing an app is a huge undertaking. The blood, sweat and tears that go into this project shouldn’t be limited to the app itself. Being smart about how you present your app will play a key role in how it does in the app store of choice. This includes giving your app a good “face”; or app icon. Before you call up your friend’s sister’s nephew because he has Photoshop installed on his computer, here are some tips to consider when designing a good app icon.
Take the app icon design seriously
With millions of apps in the App Store and Google Play Store, standing out is of utmost importance ‒ especially if there are similar apps in your category. Think of it this way – on a crowded bookshelf, the cover of a book that catches the eye and follows good design principles will be looked at first. Consumers judge books by their covers, even though their mothers told them not to. A strong brand throughout is key; don’t make app icon design the last priority during the development process.
Research, research, research!
Unique app ideas are worth a million bucks. Sadly, someone has probably already come up with yours.Find out who your competitors are and what their icons look like. Are they colorful, do they have a unique look or a fun avatar? You may assume a Scrabble tile is a great icon idea for your new word game; maybe you should do a quick search first. Don’t copy your competitors or Apple might assume your original app is a ripped off copy of Words With Friends – or your competitor might slap you with a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Keep it Simple, Silly
Some of the best icons in the store have a simple, unique look and stand out during a quick scan of search results. Pretend your icon is a billboard on the side of a highway with a 70 MPH speed limit.If there is too much going on in the app icon, the app will most likely be skipped because someone shopping on the App Store won’t have time to process everything. An icon is also not the place to throw in every Photoshop trick and filter you know. (See note later.)
Everyone has a favorite color, but that doesn’t mean it should be in your app icon. How do you finda color scheme that will be attractive to your target audience? Kissmetrics has a great infographic on colors and purchasing power, detailing the psychology behind selecting certain primary and secondary colors for branding. There are also numerous websites and books that go into great detail about color theory and psychology. Once you’ve selected a base color for your branding, check out Colors on the Web, a free tool that allows users to generate eye-pleasing RGB schemes based off of one color.
Avoid the “deadly sins”
There a number of unspoken rules to keep in mind when designing a good app icon. Things like vertical stacked type, fancy – and illegible – scripted fonts, bad color choices, Googled (read: copyrighted) clip art, using Comic Sans in general, and unnecessary drop shadows should be avoided at all costs. Items unique to the app realm, such as shine filters, should also be evaluated with scrutiny. Just because another app uses it in their icon doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Many filters and “tricks” can make your app seem unprofessional and untidy.
Bonus tip – don’t forget about screen shots
You’ve spent all sorts of effort, time and money on an exquisite app icon design. Why upload boring screen shots? The screen shots give you another opportunity to showcase your app and brand. Design Boost did a great post on creating screen shots that sell. Adding callout text, graphics or other enhancements to your screen shots can further entice a shopper into buying your app.
Lotto Fever Grips Nation: Hatchi Grips App World
A Half-Billion New Features (OK, Maybe Not That Many) For Your Little Monster
(London, England) – Driven by its extreme popularity, the Hatchi universe just exploded, with new features, platforms and an exciting new fan art contest. The first addition you will notice is the Hatchi store, a place where you can buy coins to accelerate your Hatchi’s evolution, fill its stats, change its gender, and much, much more.
The new mini-games are proving to be a huge hit with Hatchi owners. You can now play Hatchi Squares and Hatchi Catchi, just to name a few.
Hatchi is now also available on the iPad! You can enjoy all the great things you love about your virtual pet on the larger format screen.
What’s sure to be a hit with Hatchi’s huge on-line following is the fan art competition! You can visit the Hatchi Facebook page to learn more and to download the template you will need to create your very own monster. The winning design will be incorporated into the app!
All of these additions are on top of what is already receiving tremendous reviews… and creating quite the community. The Hatchi reboot that launched earlier this year, brought everything you love about virtual pets right to your iPhone. Your Hatchi monster will go through several stages of growth (if you are a nurturing parent!), and will develop differently depending on the quality of care the player provides. A successfully raised Hatchi monster will be smarter, happier and require less attention.
Notifications remind pet owners when their little monsters need attention. You can also share Hatchi experience through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Portable Pixels Ltd is a privately owned iPhone, iPad and Android development agency based in London with clients including Wallpaper* magazine, Audi, Alfa Romeo and Imperial College London. We believe in high production values and creating apps with charm. All development is done in house at our Camden Lock offices.
As well as the quality of our apps being recognized by Apple and displayed on in store iPads, our Wellnote app was recently highlighted in a speech by UK Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley.
Sunshine for the Dodgers. Partly cloudy skies for the Cowboys. Rainstorms for the Knicks. Now sports fans and novices alike can track their favorite teams in the same way they’d check the daily weather forecast with the most unique and functional sports app ever created for the iPhone, Discover Motion’s “Fan Misery.”
With football kicking into high gear, baseball heading into the post-season, and the basketball and hockey seasons just around the corner, sports fanatics are stretching themselves thin attempting to follow their favorite teams over four different leagues.
For the sports-obsessed, there is a dire need for the power to track the strengths and weaknesses of their top teams, to check each painstaking statistic from their latest wins, to catch up on the latest trades and signings, and to see what fellow fans are thinking. NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB sports fans, rejoice! The “Fan Misery” app for the iPhone and iPod Touch gives you this power and more.
Fan Misery stands apart from other sports apps because of its one-of-a-kind “Fan Misery Index” (FMI). How does it work? Think of it as like an S&P 500 for your favorite team. The FMI is calculated based on both statistics (the performance of the team on the field) and opinions (the effect of the team’s performance and other factors outside the stadium). Out churns a value between 0 and 10, where 0 indicates the bliss of winning the World Series and 10 represents the misery of losing LeBron and with him, the prospects of taking home that glorious NBA Championship.
“Fan Misery is different because it features statistics that capture what we call ‘fan moments’—events that happen on the field which can infuriate fans or make them ecstatic,” said Jeff Cole, CEO of Fan Misery developer Discover Motion. “It features opinions based on fan votes—in a sense quantifying talk radio and all the opinion-based news sources that we as fans are inundated with. All this tied nicely together by the FMI, something that they can check in on each morning like they’d check their stocks or the day’s weather forecast.”
You don’t have to be a diehard sports fan to enjoy Fan Misery. The easy-to-use interface is straightforward enough for those who don’t know the difference between goaltending and a goalpost. Since weather symbols are used to help users quickly visualize the day’s FMI, anyone can understand that a 1 with all sunny skies is good for a team and a 9 with storm clouds depicts a gloomy outlook for that organization. Fan Misery even includes a “Current Conditions” ticker so that users can view the FMIs of rival teams.
Of course, Fan Misery provides enough options and statistics to keep even the most crazed fans happy and informed. In addition to checking the daily FMI, users can scan the news on their beloved teams in real-time from a variety of national and local sources, track a comprehensive set of interesting statistics after every game, look up game schedules, and gain total insight into opinions swirling around their teams, while voicing their own opinions as well. With Fan Misery, sports aficionados and novices alike can become expert analysts of their favorite teams.
Fan Misery is available for free in the iTunes App Store and includes a free preview team; additional teams, all teams within a certain league, or all teams in all four leagues can be purchased within the app. Fan Misery is compatible with any Apple mobile device running iOS 3.0 or higher. For more information and updates, follow Fan Misery on Twitter or Facebook or visit the Fan Misery website.
About Discover Motion, LLC
An avid Cubs fan raised in hostile Red Sox country, Jeff Cole is the founder and head of Discover Motion, a full-service App and Web development studio based in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, and Boston, Massachusetts.
Montreal, Quebec – Dlux Studio today is pleased to announce the release and immediate availability of elasticr 2.0 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. An Alien invasion, a clumsy janitor, a vat of rubber and a burst of radiation lay the groundwork for the latest release of “elasticr, the Stretchiest Superhero” game for the Apple iPhone.
The games hero elasticr could very well be the distant cousin of Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four or Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl with his powers of super body elongation, allowing him to fling himself acrobatically around a room to avoid evil aliens, devious traps and sharp spikes as he struggles to save the human race.
In the latest version of elasticr, Dlux Studios has added twenty additional levels along with a level chooser, full OpenFeint integration, and significantly more hair gel to manage elasticr’s super sized pompadour. The elasticr app’s physics engine creates realistic flying, bouncing and stretching effects unparallel in the app store.
Fun for kids from five to one hundred, elasticr’s is rated 4+ and is both suitable and enjoyable for children. Higher levels will test the skills of gamers of all ages as elasticr encounters increasingly difficult obstacles such as disappearing hand holds, spinning blades and numerous chances for electrocution. Please ignore the smell of burning rubber…
To experience the most fun with rubber since the first rubber band was shot across a room at a co-worker, find the elasticr arcade game in the iTunes app store for only $0.99. elasticr is compatible with all iPhone’s and iPod touch devices running iOS 3.0 or higher. Go ahead and run it on your iPad too… elasticr is more than happy to stretch onto the bigger screen for you.
* iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
* Requires iOS 3.0 or later
* 9.7 MB
Pricing and Availability:
elasticr 2.0 is only $0.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Games category.
Purchase and Download
Founded in 2004, Dlux Studio is a privately held company with a staff of over 2 people… corporate giants beware! Purveyors of fine iPhone applications, Dlux Studios offers mobile applications with advanced graphic, web, interface and game design with a philosophy of finding the most simple, elegant and convenient solution to any problem without losing the purport. Even their proposals rarely exceed two pages. The Studio’s headquarters is situated in Montreal, Quebec. Copyright (C) 2010 Dlux Studio. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
According to AppFigures, a company specializing in metrics and tracking the ranking of iPhone applications, the iTunes App Store is officially frozen – that is, there has been no change in rankings for any applications in the last 24 hours.
The problem may be older then that however. Over the last week, many of our clients and various posts on message boards have pointed to strange app ranking issues including sudden unexplained jumps or drops in ratings, applications appearing out of nowhere, and other anomalies. Release dates seem to be one of the more effected aspects, with the release date option appearing and disappearing from the developer console.
Personally…. with it happening just after Halloween, we believe that iTunes has been possessed by the ghosts off rejected applications and the issues will continue until a full exorcism of Apple has occurred. That aside, we expect Apples engineers are frantically plugging away on the back end, trying to resolve the problem.
Please comment on any additional issues you notice, and we will continue to monitor and report if we hear of a change.
***RUMOR MILL UPDATE***
According to the founder of Cramzy, who claims to have inside information, one of the problems is because a major change is being made to the system. The gist of the change is this – updating your app will no longer place you at the top of the “Recently Released Apps” queue. If this is true, we believe this is an extremely poor decision by Apple. The marketing uplift given to an app by performing an update can be significant, and this feature as it currently is keeps developers involved in their apps, refreshing them with new content and bug fixes. Removing this will lead to more apps going stale, cluttering up the app store and making it harder for anyone to sell anything.
One of our clients, Memorize Words, Spanish Edition , had their app update approved today. Its app description only lists it as “Last Updated Nov 6th”, however it does not appear on the recently released apps section in its category. All apps in the recently released are listed as version 1.0′s. No official word from Apple, but all evidance points to this as a new major change in the app store.
Let me start by saying this – one of my hobbies, in my rapidly decreasing free time, is board games. I enjoy getting a group of people together at my house to open a bottle of wine and sit down and play a few games while chatting, laughing and shooting the proverbial shit.
Inevitably, one of the games is made by the German game giant Ravensburger. Their game catalog is extensive and includes games of all shapes and sizes including games with such basic titles as
And of course
One of the most basic, and most replicated game models of all time. As a German company, they have the German trademark on the use of the word Memory, especially as it comes to use with games that involve flipping over two things to see if they match.
A few months ago, on 8/13/09, un-noticed by most, Ravensburger Digital GmbH (a subsidiary of Ravensburger) sent Apple a lenghtly letter informing them of the trademark violation and demanding that Apple remove the offending applications from iTunes.
“You will certainly understand that our company cannot and will not tolerate the unauthorized use by third parties of its trademark Memory®, for designating games and toys as being offered, inter-alia, in your company’s highly popular iTunes store. We therefore kindly invite you to take the appropriate measures to remove from your platform those products offered under the designations which interfere with the trademark rights of our parent company and to confirm that his has been effected in due course.”
(complete letter can be downloaded HERE)
One of the reasons you haven’t heard about it until now is because Apple simply didn’t do anything about it. A few months later with a little more persistance, the lawyers at Ravensburger tried again, this time with slightly stronger wording and a spreadsheet of all the apps they found that were infriging on their German trademark:
“In accordance to German law you are obliged to make sure that products offered on your internet platform are not infringing our rights in the trademark “memory” … You have not complied are you are still not complying with your obligations under German law … As a final attempt to avoid a legal conflict, we hereby ultimately ask you to remove from your platform all applications using our trademark “memory” as listed in the file attached hereto no later than October 22, 2009. Should we still find one of the infringing applications after October 22 on your platform, we do not see any other possibility than to immediately take the appropriate steps.”
Appropriate steps?! Rhut Roh… threaten the Big Apple with a lawsuit and suddenly the gears get turning. A letter was promptly sent out to potential culprits which basically washed their hands of the problems and left it up to the developer to due something or either be removed from the app store, or face legal action from Ravensburger. (Apple’s developer agreement puts any liability for apps in iTunes squarely on the head of the developer).
Okay. Lets stop the insanity for a minute and take a good look at this.
Ravensburger has only trademarked the word in Germany, however because Apple does not provide for country by country changes to apps, they cannot simply pull the memory apps from one country, they are asking anyone who uses ‘memory’ as part of their app name to remove it from the store.
Apples products are in many countries around the world. What happens now that the precedent has been set that this kind of trademark law abuse is allowed? If I register Solitaire in Italy, can I get Apple to pull down other Solitaire games and force my competition out of the game?
I understand when a company like Tetris trademarks their name that they have made popular over the years. Can they trademark the actual game play? Is any game of “falling blocks that you rotate to make complete lines and make them disappear” subject to the same intellectual property laws? It may not matter, because without using the term Tetris, I cant see how anyone would search for a game like this.
The big difference is that “Memory” is a common English word, while Tetris is a made up brand. Even applications that have nothing to do with “flipping over of cards to see if they match each other for removal from the board” could be subject to this ban. What about a flashcard language app that helps with your Spanish Word Memory? Is it safe in a plural form? Can there be an app about happy memories? Can someone write their memoirs?
Ill leave you with the definition of fair use as it related to trademarks from wikipedia:
Most trademarks are adopted from words or symbols already common to the culture, as Apple Computer is from apple, instead of being invented by the mark owner (such as Kodak). Courts have recognized that ownership in the mark cannot prevent others from using the word or symbol in these other senses, such as if the trademark is a descriptive word or common symbol such as a pine tree. This means that the less distinctive or original the trademark, the less able the trademark owner will be to control how it is used.
A nonowner may also use a trademark nominatively—to refer to the actual trademarked product or its source. In addition to protecting product criticism and analysis, United States law actually encourages nominative usage by competitors in the form of comparative advertising.
The fair use defense in trademark law is not precluded by the possibility of confusion, according to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004. However, courts may consider the possibility of confusion in analyzing whether a use is fair or not. Intent to sow confusion is also relevant; hence, the general rule that no more of the trademark should be used than necessary for the legitimate purpose. For instance, use of a word mark is preferred to a logo, and a word mark in the same style of type as surrounding text is preferred to a word mark in its trademarked distinctive type.”
Yesterday, AT&T announced that iPhone users could finally make VoIP calls over their 3G network, not just over WiFi. I can call my friends using my Skype app – and it will only cost me airtime! Or better yet, I can call my friends abroad and pay Skype’s long distance fees (MUCH cheaper!) vs. AT&T’s fees. Love it. Really, it’s all about me. But wait, this story turns out to be bigger than me.
At the heart of it – it’s really about Apple vs Google. In July, we all remember the big controversy surrounding Apple "rejecting" the Google voice app from the iTunes store. Apple said, "The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail." And then in August Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigns from the Apple Board. Hhmmmm… Let’s face it, this is war.
Yesterday Verizon announced that they are teaming up with Google to bring a bunch of Android based devices to the #1 carrier in the country. Plus Google is already working with T-Mobile and Sprint. Rut rho for AT&T and Apple. As of now, Apple has one device on one network in the US – and Google is working with the other 3 major carriers. Can Apple really compete against Google? So was AT&T’s announcement yesterday that they reversed their policy and will allow VoIP over the 3G network just a stab in the back to Google? Sure seems to be. Look, I love Apple. I have 3 Macs at home, 4 iPods, and even my kids have an iPod Touch so they can play games and be like Mommy & Daddy. But I can’t stand the reception I get on my AT&T iPhone. I’d love to switch to Verizon, but I can’t stand their hand-sets. I’m hoping the iPhone will go to other carriers. But I have a feeling that Google may not let that happen…..
Adobe this morning is making news as they announced the next iteration of Flash – version 10.1, which includes support for the expected personal computers, smartbooks, netbooks and of course… smartphones. Of the list of supported handset manufacturers… one name is (un)surprisingly missing. Apple.
Pundits around the net have long speculated (pretty much since iPhone day one) on when Flash integration would finally happen. Adobe has approached Apple and has been trying to work around the issues involved, and Steve Jobs himself has commented on the topic, saying that Flash Lite (the baby version of Flash that was initially designed to support mobile devices) "is not capable of being used with the web." It simply is not a web plugin technology and only bears fleeting relation to the desktop version of Flash, which Jobs said "performs too slow to be useful" on the iPhone.
"There’s this missing product in the middle," Jobs stated, however with the iPhone conspicuously off the supported handset list, it seems that Flash 10. 1 isnt that product.
Or is it?
Does it really matter what Adode does to Flash? Will it ever get approved on the iPhone?
Not likely – not without serious limitations or controls placed on it by Apple. Flash gives developers something that Apple does not want them to have… a platform for developing games and other applications that are browser based that fall outside of the App Store approval process, out side of Apples financial walled garden, and outside of Steve Job’s control.
Take for example the Flash game below entitled "Parking Lot 3" by Addicting Games. A basic game that has the player trying to park their car in various positions without striking any objects. As a former resident of San Francisco, I can understand how this can be a challenge to many.
The game can be found, along with many other free, ad supported flash games, at the Addicting Games website.
To get this game on the iPhone however, Addicting games has to buy a Mac ($1,000 or so), register as an Apple developer ($99 – $299), and get Apple’s approval before their app can be released. (This is just to develop free apps!) If they want to distribute a paid version, they then have to give 30% of all revenue to Apple.
Pretty sweet deal for Apple!
It’s hard to believe with all the money being made by Apple because of the App Store, that anything remotely threatening its walled garden will appear on Apples multi-touch devices any time soon.
At MAX 2009, Adobe showed a number of applications and games for iPhone that have been built using a prerelease version of Flash Professional CS5, set to be released in 2010 with a public beta to be released later this year. This does NOT allow developers to develop Flash programs that work in the browser, however it does provide a shell in which a Flash program can be turned into an iPhone App, complete with the regulations and constraints of the App Store.
Interestingly.. in the question and answer section of the article, Adobe uses some interesting verbiage to answer the question " Will iPhone users be able to view web content built with Flash technology in the iPhone browser?" Their answer:
"Flash Player uses a just-in-time compiler and virtual machine within a browser plug-in to play back content on websites. Those technologies are not allowed on the iPhone at this time, so a Flash Player for iPhone is not being made available today."
Not "doesnt work" , "isnt possible" or even "needs work". Its simply… "not allowed".