Apple Events WWDC 2014

WWDC 2014 – Apple’s developer relationships mature


Apple opened up – it showed us more love, more insight into what’s coming next and more answers. Last week’s WWDC was notable in its universal inspiration of developers. The reason was a simple one: they felt like they’d been heard. As @jsnell wrote before WWDC, there is a new confidence to this version of Apple. This Apple shares more and listens harder. Gruber and Matt Drance agree that this WWDC was a monumental success, covering most of the main requests from the developer community and then shocking them with the dream of a new beginning. It feels like Swift is a jolt of forced fresh thinking at just the right time.

To The Cloud.

I find it fascinating to watch Apple transform in front of us. The future of computing is service-oriented. Unfortunately, services are an area of weakness for Apple. iCloud continues to be unreliable, the App Store has been massively behind Google Play’s innovation curve and the company who defined act 1 of digital music looks downright old in Act 2:  Beats seems like a blatant admission. Apple can’t afford to give up here, however. They realize that the changes might render them irrelevant. Not immediately, but over the next 10 to 15 years. Apple knows what it’s like to peak and then be beaten. They have respect for how quickly this can change. So they’re changing themselves, working to build out more services and taking more “risk”. As Matt shared, Apple struggles with a more open, services-oriented approach because of how they perceive risk:

The massive technical and political change required and subsequently generated by things like extensibility, third-party keyboards, and a new programming language, bears massive risk both inside and outside of Apple. That risk — to security, to battery life, to a consistent experience that customers know and trust — was constantly evaluated when I fought for SDK enhancements as a Technology Evangelist inside Apple. And more often than not, it was decided either that the risks were too high, or that there wasn’t enough time to solve the problem while sufficiently containing those risks.”

Contrast that with Google, Amazon and Facebook: they have grown up in a services-oriented world and are steeped in how to iterate quickly and take “risks” with developer-facing offerings. The word risk means different things to these companies – they’re used to deploying their software into the cloud. Apple is getting more comfortable with this concept, finally. You can see it with their announcements about iOS 8. A lot of the announcements were about upgrades to their developer services. You can see this by dissecting two of the most interesting areas of change:

  • The notifications center and app widgets
  • The App Store and iTunes Connect

Notification Center and App Widgets


Screenshots of the new widgets in notification center

There is a strong argument to be made that notification center will be the most important screen on your iPhone or iPad. Similar to Google Now, notifications center has the opportunity to highlight core information at the right time. However, instead of Google determining what information to show, Apple is letting developers create the experience and compete for the attention of their customers.

Widgets enable more information to be accessible through the notification center. We fully expect more apps to be including widgets and working to ensure adoption of their widgets. This new channel for communication on a customer’s home screen will be used for marketing, customer feedback, follow-up and ongoing reminders of an app’s value. If you’re an informational app, there’s no reason you need to have a customer open your app in order to access crucial information. App Widgets and the updates to Notification Center are exciting developments and we can’t wait to experiment with them with our customers. But I bring up Notification Center and App Widgets as an example of how Apple is moving into services: cautiously but in a way that’s giving developers more control over the entire iOS experience.

If we’re right and Notification Center ends up consuming more of consumer time on the mobile device, this is an important decision. Apple, historically so careful with the customer experience, is giving the keys to the engagement castle away, trusting that developers will do the right things. This new Apple is letting developers define the mobile experience.

What will be interesting to observe is what happens when app developers get too aggressive with their widgets. Will the review process begin to test notifications out? Will developers be throttled in their widget activity? What extra controls will be embedded in the Settings section to give people control over the noise in Notification Center?

App Discovery and Marketing in the App Store

While much is made of iCloud and iTunes, the App Store is likely Apple’s most impactful web service today. Unfortunately, app discovery and search in the the App Store have long been a point of contention because developers and publishers have felt like they had insufficient tools and very little insight into the decision-making processes. While we don’t expect all of that to change with this update, it’s clear that Apple has invested more time and energy in improving the experience, both for publishers and app customers. Most of the improvements that were made should improve search, discoverability, reporting, attribution and conversion tracking. Fundamentally, the App Store team is providing a service that helps mobile businesses grow and they’re starting to act like it.

Apple's iOS 8 should bring related search

Related Search coming soon?

Improved Search

The changes don’t appear to be deployed yet on iOS 8 devices – but from the keynote, Apple’s new app store search will include “trending searches.” Similar to trends on Twitter, this feature gives insight into what are current popular searches in the App Store. It will be interesting to see how these suggestions will differ from the apps that appear in the Top Charts.

Replacing the “Apps Near Me” Section

Apple's iOS 8 will revamp app discovery

Bye bye “Apps Near Me”

Apple’s new “Explore” function in the App Store is a major improvement over the previous “Apps Near Me” feature that had limited use cases. With “Explore,” you are able to easily drill down into sub categories of each app vertical to find apps that suit your needs. The key takeaway here is that Apple is clearly experimenting with discovery methods and once “Apps Near Me” proved to be unsuccessful, they weren’t afraid to change it up.

App Previews

App previews have been desired by publishers for years – demonstrating an interactive app with flat screenshots is just not sufficient to the task. Great app previews will provide a boost in downloads for apps by telling the story more effectively. For paid apps this will become an important tool for converting visitors into a paid install. For more information on app previews and how to make them effective, our friends at Apptamin have written a great post with tips on how to use them. What remains to be seen is how Apple is going to deal with the quality question: many of the previews will be of poor quality. Is the review process now going to encompass reviewing your App Preview? If so, how much time is this going to add to the review process?

Beta Testing

It’s no secret that beta testing has been a frustrating experience for most iOS developers. As apps get more sophisticated and customer expectations rise, it’s absolutely crucial that developers conduct some testing and get feedback from customers before launching the apps more broadly. Launching with a buggy or incomplete app is just not an option for companies with an existing brand and customer base. This process has been significantly limited by Apple’s provisioning requirements and limits.

The purchase of TestFlight implied that this was going to get more attention from Apple and sure enough, WWDC confirmed this. Making it much easier to ship beta versions of apps to up to 1000 people (note that each person can have multiple devices, really increasing the scope of testing) is a huge win for publishers. The quality of apps is certainly going to improve as a result. The fact that Apple saw this area as truly important and crucial to the ecosystem further underlines their movement to a service-oriented approach – they have to be a provider of ongoing services that improve the app development and release process and testing is a crucial piece of the puzzle now.


Reporting and analytics have long been subpar in iTunes Connect. If you wanted to understand how many people took a look at your app’s App Store page, well, that was just impossible. If you wanted to try and implement attribution tracking, you had to work with HasOffers or another outside vendor, which meant that the vast majority of developers weren’t even thinking about the problem. Trying to understand your app’s retention and installation activity? You better set up an analytics package and get comfortable with their reports. While there were many developers who invested in analytics, attribution and other reporting tools, the problem with the lack of information coming out of Apple was that key pieces of the puzzle were missing. Without App Store view and conversion data, every other analysis was an incomplete guess. Furthermore, the vast majority of developers weren’t taking the time to invest in these tools, resulting in suboptimal results.

With more information about customer needs and actions comes better software. Apple’s rollout of reporting and analytics tools should reverse this state of affairs, democratizing the data and information about app store behavior, unleashing a wave of more finely honed app strategies and better informed developers. Many of us thought Apple just didn’t want to share this data, but WWDC communicated that Apple understands our problems and wants to help us be more successful. By investing in this area of iTunes Connect Apple is making it easier for the rest of us who help app publishers to deliver a full picture of customer activity and behavior. Our in-app communications tools help with app store download conversion and customer retention.

Now that Apple’s providing us the core data for these calculations, we can help our customers contextualize that data and act upon it instead of spending numerous cycles just to estimate impacts and results.

Looking forward: designing a better mobile experience

In addition to the items we’ve highlighted above, there are many more inspiring features that we’ll all be discovering in the coming months. You can find a full overview on all the features released in iOS 8, but the most interesting pieces won’t be clear for at least 6 months. Once iOS 8 is out the door and in the hands of consumers, we’ll get to see how the new changes are helping us make better apps and be more successful. We’re excited to see how this unfolds with a newly open and supportive Apple. We can’t wait.


These 7 Apps Understand Great Design

The experts on Apptentive’s Mobile Team provide answers to your questions about from between app development to successfully marketing your app. Got a question? Ask it in our comment section below or on Twitter using #MobileTeam. In each post we’ll highlight a different topic where the Mobile Team will share their insight and experience.

This week we asked the Mobile Team:
What app has a great user interface that other app developers can look at for inspiration and why?

Rod Burns

BBC Weather App DesignBBC Weather App DesignBBC Weather


I really like the clean interface of the BBC weather app. The horizontal scrolling works really nicely and makes it really intuitive to use, the layout is clear and shows the information I want to see.

Download the BBC Weather App – Android | iOS

Rod Burns - WIP

Dan Counsell

Castro App DesignCastro

Castro is a superb example of an app that developers should take inspiration from. While the UI is mixture of tap areas and gestures, the app remains intuitive and easy to use. A lot of apps get this wrong and overload on gesture making it confusing for users to navigate — Castro hits just the right balance.

Download the Castro App – iOS

Dan Counsell -

Ben Johnson

Shortwave Messaging

Shortwave Messaging screen568x568Shortwave – a relatively new messaging app that was just featured on the app store – has a beautifully simple UI. Unfortunately the app hasn’t hit a critical mass for me to find any real utility from it, but the UI is spot on.

Solid colors clearly indicate where functionality lies, transitions from one view to the other appropriately expand or contract that same UI to provide consistency between views and in a new and novel way.

The sheer simplicity and design restraint displayed in the app is aspirational.

Download the Shortwave App – iOS

Ben Johnson – Raizlabs

Leigh Momii

Sonos Mobile AppSonos

Sonos’ new app design is great. Part of the reason why this stands out so much too is that the previous design was old and stale and didn’t follow Google’s latest Android design guidelines. What a difference a makeover can have. Sonos’ slick new integration with Google Play Music is further enhanced by a beautiful interface to go with the great sound experience that comes with Sonos products. Simplification was also a big key here in their success.

Download the Sonos App – Android | iOS

Leigh Momii – HTC

Michele Titolo

TapTalkTapTalk App

I was recently introduced to an app called TapTalk. It’s a lot like snapchat, but is even simpler. The best thing about it is that the UI really gets out of the way. When you open the app you are immediately in the view to post a new photo, and can send with a single tap. The UI literally gets out of the way of the primary function of the app.

Download the TapTalk App – Android | iOS

Michele Titolo –

Conor Winders

Facebook Paper AppFacebook Paper

It’s Facebook, but it’s nothing like Facebook. This app has impressed me more than I thought Facebook ever could. They have completely reimagined what it is to use the social network and wrapped it in a truly delightful app. My Facebook usage has soared since I downloaded Paper.

What had become a stale and boring experience in the regular app has been completely transformed in Paper. Everything moves and bounces and stretches and in general is fun to play with. I find myself sitting there playing with the interface at least once or twice a day, purely because it is so much fun and such a joy to use. The Paper app is a remarkable achievement.

Download the Paper App – iOS

Jawbone UP Coffee AppJawbone UP Coffee

I’m a huge fan of the Jawbone UP and I’m a huge fan of coffee. One of those is good for me and the other, not so much. So when Jawbone released UP Coffee it seemed like it would be a great way to track and cut down on my coffee consumption. Well, how wrong I was. UP Coffee is so fun to use I actually found myself drinking more coffee and caffeinated drinks because I enjoyed adding them to the app so much!

The regular Jawbone UP app is a brilliant piece of work and so I expected big things from this app. I was not disappointed. Everything is super simple and again, like Facebook Paper it is just so much fun to use. Also, kudos for the best use of Push/Local notifications I’ve seen in an app yet. The app seems to recognize my coffee drinking habits and remind me via a notification each day at the right time if I haven’t logged in yet.

Download the Jawbone Up Coffee App – iOS

Conor Winders – Redwind Software

Do you have any apps that you believe offer well designed interfaces? Share your questions and comments below or by using #MobileTeam on Twitter.

Fake App Store Reviews

Fake Reviews in Google Play and Apple App Store

The app stores are more competitive every day and app publishers are looking for more intelligence and organic advantages in order to build a sustainable mobile business. This means investing in tools such as MobileDevHQ for app store optimization, Apptentive for in-app feedback and retention tools and poring over in-app analytics, attempting to glean important insights that will unlock another step up in growth.

Black Hat App Store activities take aim at App Ratings

Unfortunately, some ambitious app publishers aren’t limiting their activities to just white hat organic strategies. Sometimes they take shortcuts in an attempt to game the top charts. For the past several years, we’ve noticed that a number of “top” app publishers appear to be paying people to create fake reviews, hoping that it’ll help them boost their app store conversion rates and move them up the charts.

Anecdotally, faking reviews and gaming the app stores seems to be a practice that is getting used more broadly. Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store have made multiple changes to their ranking algorithms over the past year and some of the most recent shifts have clearly increased the importance of app ratings so the benefit of faking reviews is growing larger.

With the broader acceptance that ratings and reviews affect an app’s ranking, plenty of sites and services have popped up offering reviews for a price. Companies like BuyAppStoreReviews, BestReviewApp, and AppRebates promise reviews to help you climb to the top of the app stores. Fiverr has thousands of people offering reviews in exchange for $5. We’re not going to link to these sites to boost their SEO profile, but if you want to take a look at them it’s clear that there’s a market for black hat, non-organic app store rating activity.

Fake reviews aren’t limited to the app store, either. People have been doing this for years on Amazon and it’s estimated that up to a third of online reviews are fake. When dealing with ephemeral and digital products, research has consistently shown that consumer ratings and reviews are very impactful on purchase decisions. So there’s a benefit to having ratings and reviews for software, e-books, music and many other products – what can we do to make sure that they’re genuine and helpful to the consumers they’re supposed to serve?

What do fake reviews look like?

While it is impossible to always know if reviews were paid or not, there are some very clear examples of apps who have fake reviews. For example, by looking through reviews on a per reviewer basis, you can spot apps that are all using the same services to acquire app reviews and have similar reviews from the same group of people in the app store. Notice the similarity in brevity and phrasing.

Paid Apple Reviews

Fake Android Reviews

Another way to identify fake reviews is to look for review text that is identical – this happens more often than you might think. For example, here’s a sample of reviews taken from the Android app, Global Banking and

What you’re seeing is that there are a lot of people out there willing to make multiple accounts on the various app stores in order to copy and paste their reviews multiple times in order to finish their task. Clearly the publishers buying fake reviews aren’t terribly concerned about variety and uniqueness in the creation of these reviews.

Fake app store reviews aren’t limited to just positive reviews either – we hear from clients all the time that one of the reasons they love having Apptentive on their side is to combat their competitors who are willing to pay for fake negative reviews. Similarly to the fake positive reviews, you don’t have to look very hard to find large numbers of 1 star reviews that use the exact same language to denigrate an app, hoping to drop it in the app store search results and rankings.

In pursuit of a better App Store experience

Here at Apptentive, because we’re obsessed with helping companies better serve their mobile app customers, we’ve been watching this behavior unfold and expand and wondered how we could start to combat it.  Recently, when we announced our Love Score, we knew that we had an opportunity to start creating a better, more comprehensive view into what customers truly think about the apps they use. We wanted to really identify the apps that customers love and to summarize the state of the app stores today.

However, we knew we had to account for apps that contain fake reviews – our algorithm was originally easily fooled by the apps that have been paying people to boost their ratings and diminish others. In order to counteract this bad behavior we created a metric we call Reviewer QualityBy taking a look at the length and word usage of every review in the app store, we’re able to create scores for app store reviewers. All the individual scores for the entire reviewer base of a mobile app makes up the Reviewer Quality of the app. 

Reviewer Quality helps us locate apps that have a significant proportion of fake reviews and minimizes the positive sentiment that has been falsely created as well as diminishing the fake negative sentiment that is sometimes manufactured as well. Our reviewer quality analysis helped us find the examples of fake reviews we’ve shared above.

Digging further into our data, we realized that the trends we can identify in our data was fascinating as an analysis of the entire app ecosystem. Here are a few key conclusions we’ve been able to make:

iOS Apps Have More Fake Reviews

Even though many share the comment lament that “Google Play is full of fake apps and fake reviews” what we’ve found is that the iTunes app store is actually the leader in fake reviews. Our data reveals that 55% of the apps flagged for containing fake reviews were iOS apps and 45% were Android apps. This might have something to do with the app download volume advantage that iOS enjoyed up until the middle of last year. However, we also think that Google Play’s requirement of a Google + account could have diminished the fake review problem a bit because it requires more of a clear notion of identity.

However, the wort offenders appear to be Android apps. Of the 100 apps with the worst Reviewer Quality scores, 80% of them are Android apps.

Games Contain The Most Fake Reviews

In our list of apps flagged for fake reviews, games represented 41% of the apps with fake reviews. The Games category is the most competitive category in both app stores, so it’s not super surprising that games also take the largest portion of the fake reviews.

Fake reviews in apple app store and google play

Writing A Review Is More Work, Except When It’s Fake

When comparing all of the apps that were flagged for containing fake reviews to the rest of the app ecosystem, the apps containing fake reviews had a higher percentage of ratings with a review written. For the app store as a whole, about 20% of ratings also include a review. However, apps that looked like they had fake reviews had a much higher ratio: on average 35% of ratings for flagged apps contained a review – that’s a 75% increase over the app store average!

Prevailing as a White Hat App Marketer

If you’re an app marketer working hard to get your app noticed, these black hat app store tactics can be extremely frustrating. To combat these tactics there are a number of actions you can take to protect your mobile app from fake negative reviews and increase your organic reviews to compete with apps that pay for reviews.

1. Be Vigilant!

You can help make sure that competitors who pay for negative reviews for your app are wasting their money. Both the Apple App Store and Google Play have a process for reporting fraudulent reviews. For Google Play, there is an option next to every review on an applications Play Store page where you can mark it as spam. You can also use Google’s help center to report inappropriate activity, including fake reviews (click “Contact Us” in the top right corner).

For the Apple App Store, you should report fake reviews that have been given to your app via iTunes Connect. Under the “Support” tab, you can find a link to “Contact Us,” which leads to a contact form. Choosing the following topics in order, “App Store Questions,” “Customer Reviews,” and “Report a Fraud Concern” you are able to easily report any issues you have noticed.

Besides looking out for fraudulent activities, reviews are an important source of customer insight, so monitoring them regularly to understand customers’ issues is a core requirement.

2. Be Proactive and Utilize Your App Evangelists

Reading through every negative review takes time and it isn’t always clear whether a review is fake or not. You already have the ultimate tool that can positively impact your ratings and make any paid fake reviews even more meaningless – your customers!

Be proactive and reach out to your app evangelists. Get the people who love your app to tell the world why they love it. Apptentive’s in-app rating prompts are the perfect tool for connecting with your most happy customers and politely asking them for a review. A simple question asked at the right time can easily result in a review increase of 300% or more.

3. Don’t Wear A Black Hat

Resorting to using black hat app store tactics may be tempting, but it is not a sustainable or appropriate solution for improving your own reviews or lowering a competitor’s rating. Over the years there have been several updates to both Google Play and the Apple App Store to combat scammers, fake apps, and manipulative tactics to gain ratings and reviews.

By refusing to resort to such tactics you are reducing the number of potential fraudulent cases Google and Apple need to handle, making it easier for them to quickly handle any cases that do arise. Stopping these practices from ever happening may never be entirely possible, but by following appropriate methods you are improving the quality of the app store and promoting positive growth in the app developer community.

If you have any ideas on how we can further utilize our data to provide valuable information please share in the comments below. As always, questions and comments are welcome and encouraged.

App Monetization

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Monetizing Mobile Apps

The experts on Apptentive’s Mobile Team provide answers to your questions about from between app development to successfully marketing your app. Got a question? Ask it in our comment section below or on Twitter using #MobileTeam. In each post we’ll highlight a different topic where the Mobile Team will share their insight and experience.

This week we asked the Mobile Team:
What common mistakes should app developers avoid when trying to monetize their apps?

Rod Burns
The biggest mistake developers make is not devoting enough time to figuring out what their monetization strategy is. They have probably spent a very long time crafting their app but spend only a small amount of time figuring out the monetization mechanics. Understand your target audience/demographic and decide your strategy. Once launched use analytics to understand how people are using your app and keep pivoting, it’ll probably take some different tactics to get it right!

Rod Burns - WIP

Chiu-Ki Chan
Monetization is an integral part of app development. Not only that you should think about it from the beginning, you also need to keep adjusting it after launch. Experiment with different price points. Run discounts from time to time. Provide different bundles for your in-app products. Better start with a high price and adjust down – you may anger your users if you hike up the price after they got comfortable with the cheap options.

Chiu-Ki Chan -Square Island

Dan Counsell
Time and time again I’ve seen developers go straight to freemium and make pretty much nothing at launch, simply because they give away too much and didn’t attract enough users.

Unless you’re sure you can consistently get millions of downloads each month, then freemium is not for you. Paid is still far better for indie developers. If your app does well in the paid charts you can always try moving to freemium further down the line.

If you’re launching as freemium or switching to it, you should proceed with extreme caution.

Dan Counsell -

Ben Johnson
What Dan Counsell (above) said. I’ve both witnessed and personally experienced the perils of going freemium and giving away too much. Don’t undervalue your work and don’t be afraid to charge appropriately. If people don’t buy what you’re selling, then have the price cut conversation, but don’t set the bar too low right out of the gate.

Ben Johnson – Raizlabs

Mike Lee
There’s only one right way to make money and that’s by providing value. When you think only in terms of how you could make money, you’re thinking only of yourself. You get customers the way you get anyone else, by thinking of what they need, not what you want or can get away with.

Mike Lee – The New Lemurs

Kyle Richter
The biggest problem with App Store monetization is that developers often wait till after they have thought up and designed the project to add monetization on top of it. The most successful freemium apps are those that plan their in app purchase from the ground up and make it part of the experience.

Kyle Richter – Empirical Development

Dan Shapiro
If you are considering charging for your app, the most important question is how much it costs you to acquire a user. If you plan to advertise for your users, you need to understand your cost per click and conversion rate so that you know how much you need to charge to recoup it; this will often be $4.99+. If you are getting users for free, then you can target the much more attractive $0.99 price point. There’s nothing worse than advertising for an app and losing money on each install!

Dan Shapiro –

Michele Titolo
When making an app that you’re charging upfront for, don’t be tied to one price point. Be willing to play around a bit, and find where you can really maximize your revenue. Also, for more expensive apps, putting them on sale for a limited time can help generate buzz and get users exposed to your brand. Never underestimate the power of a user loving your brand!

Michele Titolo –

Conor Winders
The price point or monetization strategy should be thought out at the very early stage of development. Whether to go free, paid, freemium, etc should impact how the app is built and what the user journeys are in the app. Often we see developers go premium and build an experience based on that, but then try and change the monetization strategy later on. I’ve rarely see that approach work. Research and decide up front exactly how you plan on monetizing and use that to inform how users will experience your app, don’t try and decide later on or change it later on.

And the other piece of advice I would have for anyone going premium is to immediately forget about how much you think your app is worth and canvas real world opinions from people you don’t know. Your friends will all tell you that your app is worth whatever you tell them you are planning on charging. However, the real world app store doesn’t work like that and you need to get real insight from your potential users.

Conor Winders – Redwind Software

Do you have any monetization strategies that were a success or lead to failure? Share your questions and comments below or by using #MobileTeam on Twitter.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Platform Rule Changes, What Do They Mean

What do Apple and Facebook platform changes mean for mobile apps?

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations we take a look at recent changes to Apple and Facebook’s platforms. Apple has made changes to the terms on IDFA (ID for Advertiser), which allows anyone from analytic companies and advertisers to track companies between apps. Apple is banning apps who use IFDA for tracking purposes without displaying ads.

Facebook has shut down advertising partners who were doing attribution tracking and holding onto data too long. There are a lot of questions around both of these issues and we break down the changes and what they mean for you.

Take a look at the video from this week’s App Marketing Conversations to learn more.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Office for iPad & IPO

Microsoft Office is released for the Apple iPad and goes public.

In this episode of App Marketing Conversations, we discuss the release of Office for the iPad and discuss’s recent IPO and what it means for the gaming community. As the iPad is the leading tablet in the market, many people who rely on Microsoft Office will have access in an entirely new way, but what will the adoption look like? dropped over 10% as they went public. What does this mean for and how does a publicly traded company that is trackable through the app store and various app analytic tools mean for future valuations of and other companies?

Take a look at this week’s App Marketing Conversations to learn more.

App Marketing

App Marketing Conversations: Mobile Apps vs. Web Apps

Revisiting the classic debate: Mobile Apps vs Web Apps

In this installment of App Marketing Conversations, we revisited the classic debate on mobile apps and web apps, discussing whether or not it’s detrimental to the ecosystem.

Is search still broken in the app store? As an app marketer, what role can the mobile web play for your app? We took a few minutes to revisit the debate and discuss a few new ideas about the relationship between native and web apps.

Take a look at the video from this week’s App Marketing Conversations to learn more.

PVZ 2 app

Mobile Games and Their Sequels – Are Sequels Loved Less?

Over the years mobile games have changed. One of the largest trends has been the switch to the freemium model for monetization purposes. Sequels of paid apps are now often published as free and many free games have removed ads in favor of in-app purchases.

Using the Apptentive Love Score, we looked at 10 popular mobile games and their sequels to which ones were loved more compared to the other. We also wanted to see what trends emerged that related to the increase or decreases in the Love Score from one game to the next..

Mobile Games vs. Their Sequels

Plants vs. Zombies and Plants vs. Zombies 2

love score

love score

Popcap‘s Plants vs. Zombies was a major hit when it was released for iOS in 2010. The original game came with a price tag of $.99 and can still be found in Apple’s Top Paid iPhone Apps more than four years later. Plants vs. Zombies received a Love Score of 72, one of the highest scores for any mobile game and 26% higher than the average Love Score for games in the Apple App Store.

In 2013, the sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time, was released. The sequel came without a price tag and instead drove revenue following the freemium model commonly seen these days. PvZ 2’s Love Score of 60 is large drop from the original and only 5% higher than the Apple Store average for games.

While still higher than average, a review analysis of Plant vs. Zombies 2 shows less customer love due to the change in monetization strategy and some commons bugs that continue to plague customers throughout each update.

Where’s My Water? and Where’s My Water? 2

love score

love score

Where’s My Water? was released by Disney in 2011 as a $1.99 and after a single day moved to the top of the paid apps chart in the App Store. Two years later, Disney released Where’s My Water? 2 and like Plants vs. Zombies 2, switched from being a paid app to being free and more heavily pushing in-app purchases.

A score of 48 for Where’s My Water? 2 creates the largest differential, good or bad, for all of the games on this list and is 16% lower than the average iOS mobile game. Reviews are filled with unsatisfied customers who opposed tactics revolving around social shares and in-app purchases in order to continue playing.

It is unknown whether Disney is making more money off of the sequel, but the amount of customer love has severely dropped off damaging Disney’s reputation on mobile.

Temple Run and Temple Run 2

love score

love score

Temple Run was released in 2011 by Imangi Studios as a free to play game and instantly became a classic inspiring hundreds of games to follow in a similar style. Temple Run’s score of 71 places it at the top of loved mobile games. The in-app purchases are entirely focused on enabling you to run farther and reach a higher score, yet never inhibit how much you can play.

In 2013, the sequel Temple Run 2 was released following the exact same monetization method and found similar success. Through a review analysis, the updated graphics on Temple Run 2 are an extreme improvement, but common bugs causing the app to lag or glitch seem to be common.

Both games are loved by their customers, but Temple Run 2’s updated graphics are causing performance issues that seem to ruin the experience for many of their customers.

Infinity Blade and Infinity Blade II

love score

love score

Late in 2010, Infinity Blade was released with a $5.99 price tag, but that didn’t dissuade people from downloading it. Compared to free games, customers have high expectations for pricier apps and Infinity Blade did not disappoint as clearly shown by its Love Score.

One year later, the first sequel Infinity Blade II was released and instead of following the freemium model which was just emerging at the time, the price actually increased to $6.99. Clearly targeting their current happy customer base and aiming to keep them happy, developers Chair Entertainment and Epic Games didn’t follow methods that seem to slowly alienate customer bases in other titles.

Overall, Infinity Blade is a prime example proving that there is still space for paid games in the App Store.

The Room and The Room Two

love score

love score

The puzzle game, The Room, was released by Fireproof Games in 2012 as a $.99 title and became a major hit. It’s sequel, The Room Two, was first released for iPad in late 2013, and garnered almost as much praise as the original.

For all game titles and their sequels, no pair scores higher than the combined Love Scores for The Room and The Room 2. The sequel did not disappoint and is clearly loved by it’s customers giving it the highest score for a game sequel, even with the $2 increase in price!

Cut the Rope and Cut the Rope: Experiments

love score

love score

All of the Cut the Rope games have been extremely popular and it all started with the original $2.99 title released in 2010 by ZeptoLab. With a Love Score of 71, the original Cut the Rope sits at the top of the most loved games of all time.

The first full sequel came with the $1.99 release of Cut the Rope: Experiments in 2011. It would be interesting to know what kind of results came from lowering the price by a dollar, but either way, the Cut the Rope series has been providing quality entertainment that people love across the whole series.

Real Racing and Real Racing 2

love score

love score

In the summer of 2009, Real Racing was released by Firemint at $2.99 and was immediately a commercial success. Sitting a little lower on the Love Score scale than the previous mentioned titles, Real Racing clearly saw room for improvement.

Firemint was clearly confident in their ability to create a great sequel as they released Real Racing 2 in 2010 at a more expensive install price of $4.99. The improved gameplay and better content was a success and resulted in a higher Love Score than the orginial. Real Racing 2’s score of 68 places it 19% higher than the average game and 5% higher than Real Racing.

Paper Toss and Paper Toss 2.0

love score

love score

The first game on many smartphones, Paper Toss, was developed by Blackflip Studios and released as a free game in 2009. As an ad-supported game, Paper Toss profited from a single in-app purchase that removed the in-app ads.

In 2011, Paper Toss 2.0 was released as a free to play game with an in-app purchase to make it ad free. The game added further in-app purchases, but ones that only enhanced gameplay instead of being required in order to continue playing.

Paper Toss is an extremely simple game and that simplicity may hamper the fanaticism and love of the game. However, the similar level of love for the second title clearly shows they know what they’re doing over at Blackflip.

Galaxy on Fire and Galaxy on Fire 2

love score

love score

Fishlabs’ Galaxy on Fire was released for iOS in 2009 as a free game, but had originally been available on feature phones running on Java for 4 years and was heralded as one of the finest 3D space games in the market. While the original only sits 7% higher than the average games with a score of 71, it was setting the stage for future success.

In 2010, Galaxy on Fire 2 was released and proved to be a drastic improvement over the original with amazing graphics and better gameplay. While originally released as a paid download, GoF 2 became a permanently free game in 2012.

The increase in Love Score between the two games is the largest between any original and sequel and really shows a company cultivating a strong community for their games.

Mega Jump and Mega Jump 2

love score

love score

Mega Jump quickly became an iconic game in 2010 when it was released by Get Set Games. It is a free game with in-app purchases to buy boosts and new characters. The simple mechanics of the game made it very popular and a great game for killing time.

The sequel, Mega Jump 2, was released in the beginning of 2014. With four years between games, the developers at Get Set Games seemed to have gone down the wrong path to creating a game as popular as the first. The 14 point drop in Love Score places the sequel 12% lower than the average games in the Apple App Store and marks a severe drop from the original.

Making A Mobile Game That Is Loved

Gameplay, and performance are clearly the most important items for creating a successful game and one that is loved. Games that have drastic improvements to gameplay like Galaxy on Fire 2 see a large increase in customer love. Through review analysis, performance bugs result in immediate negative feedback, frustrated customers, and can quickly turn fans into upset critics.

Monetization methods also seem to have a large factor on how much a game is loved. As the potential revenue from the freemium model, shown clearly by Clash of Clan’s success, is an alluring prospect for development shops, it often alienates the customer base and results in a game that is loved less.

Switching to the freemium game strategy is very attractive, but games such as the The Room Two and Infinity Blade II show there are still successful opportunities for being a paid game, even as a sequel.

You can find a mobile app’s love score here.

What do you think of trends between mobile games and their sequels? Have you noticed any other changes that may have affected how much a game is loved?

Brand Love Scores

Love Score: Great Brands Still Don’t Get Mobile

Each year the Temkin Group releases a report that rates companies based on the level of customer experience they provide. We decided to take the top 100 companies with mobile apps from the Temkin Experience Ratings 2014 to see how they scored on our Love Score.

Why did we do this?

The mobile platform is still relatively new to many large brands and providing a high level of customer experience is proving to be rather difficult. A mobile app’s ‘Love Score’ gives a company insight into the customer sentiment for their app and how it compares to other apps. After calculating the Love Score for these 100 companies, we were able to get a better sense of how these customer centric brands were performing on mobile.  See the results below:

Brand Love Scores

What can we learn?

Compared to the average Love Score of apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, the majority of companies that rank the highest on Temkin’s customer experience list fall below average. Customer experience is a top priority for these companies so why are the majority of them struggling on mobile? Here are a few possible explanations:

  • Haven’t invested enough resources into building on the mobile platform.

  • Don’t understand what their customers’ wants, needs, and expectations are on mobile.

  • Are not agile and are slow to change, improve, and update compared to the rest of the app ecosystem.

Not all large brands are having difficulty extending a positive customer experience onto the mobile platform. Domino’s, CVS, and USAA are in the Top 10 for both Android and iOS apps and serve as an example for larger brands looking to improve their mobile experience.

Top Customer Experience Companies Compared to the App Stores

Here is another look at how these companies, which excel at customer experience on the web and offline, compare on mobile to the average Love Score  in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Top Brands on iOS

Top Brand Android Apps

For iOS, 83% of the top 100 customer experience companies with apps have a Love Score below average. For Android, 74% of companies fall below the average Love Score. As a whole, these companies do not provide a quality experience on mobile compared to the rest of the app ecosystem.

Customer Experience on Mobile

The majority of apps from companies that work hard to provide an exceptional customer experience fall short on mobile. This is primarily because they are in the dark when it comes to understanding what their customers want, need, and expect from a mobile app. The first step for every company with a mobile app is to make it easy for customers to give feedback and, most importantly, be able to get help if something is wrong.

Apptentive is here to help any company with a mobile app talk with their customers. Our aim is to help you improve your app quickly to fit the wants, needs, and expectations your customers have. It is important to listen to the voice of your customers.  We have an array of tools including ratings prompts, in-app feedback, and in-app surveys that can help you better understand your customers and improve your app. Start learning what your customers think about your app by getting your Love Score.

LoveScore_Logo_4x3 (2)

Announcing The Apptentive Love Score

Apptentive Love Score for Mobile Apps

What is the Love Score?

The Love Score ranks Android and iOS apps based on the level of customer experience and gives a more accurate look at the apps that people love and use on a daily basis than the Top Charts in the app stores. It takes a comprehensive look at a variety of metrics including the popularity, ratings and reviews, customer sentiment, reviewer quality, and Apptentive’s internal metrics informed by a database of over 50 million people. All together the data is used to create a mobile app’s Love Score.

Note: We can only compute a love score for apps that have received more than 50 reviews over its entire lifetime.

Why is the Love Score important?

Knowing what your customers think and feel about your app is crucial to your app’s success. Apptentive’s Love Score helps companies understand how their mobile customers think and feel about their apps. The brands that succeed on mobile will be the ones that measure the customer experience for their apps and work to improve it.

The Love Score can help companies begin to understand the mobile customer experience of their applications and see how they compare to against their competitors. As mobile becomes even more dominant in our lives, the experience of using an app will be set high and companies will need to invest in the mobile customer experience to come out on top.

Understanding and improving the mobile customer experience may sound simple, but many brands, including ones that are known for providing great customer experiences, struggle to create a positive experience on mobile. We dug further into this issue in our first report, Love Score: Top Brands Still Don’t Get Mobile, that looks at top customer experience brands and how their mobile apps compare to the rest of the app marketplace.

Little known fact: Only 6% of apps have 50 reviews or more!

Of the 2.3 million apps available on iOS and Android only approximately 131,000 have more than 50 reviews and are able to have a love score computed for them. The app ecosystem is often referred to as incredibly crowded, but only 6% of apps have 50 reviews or more.  The fact that only 6% of apps have enough data to compute a Love Score in a crowded app ecosystem suggests two hypotheses:

1.     Even in the crowded app stores, a quality app loved by even a small group of customers can quickly rise pass more than  90% of the apps in the market.

2.     The size of the app stores are daunting and building a large and vocal customer base to set your app apart is incredibly difficult, less than 1 in 10 are able to do it.

Apple App Store and Google Play by Category

We broke down the app stores by category to see which categories had on average the most loved app  apps. The category with the highest overall Love Score for both Android and iOS is Books. Take a look for yourself to see how the categories in both major app stores stack up and which ones are in need of help. 

Love Score for iOS Categories Love Score for Google Play apps

Knowing what people think about your app is incredibly important. The number of downloads alone can never tell the whole story. Even important metrics such as customer engagement need to be measured in more than time spent or actions. The customer experience needs to be measured in enthusiasm and love. When customers love your app they tell their friends, use it more often, and are more likely to spend money inside the app.

We strongly believe that the Love Score is an important metric for every company with a mobile application to begin understanding how their customers feel and serve as a tool to help the entire app industry improve customer experience for mobile to a whole new level.

How much do your customers love your app? Get your Love Score and find out now.