Thoughts on App Review

As some of you may know, getting Yoink for iOS through Apple’s App Review was, to say it lightly, a bit of a pain.
In the end, I was able to release it, but a month late. Had this been my first app as an indie developer, there’s a good chance I would have had to declare bankruptcy now.
I am fortunate enough to have a couple of apps out already that create a steady income, but still, I spent about two months exclusively on this app, so it’s still scary thinking about how I got rejected over and over.

Long story short, here’s a couple of thoughts I’ve had during all of this.

TestFlight App Review

From the very beginning, I’ve had Yoink available to a couple of (awesome) testers via TestFlight.
Now, when you add a new app or a new version of the app to TestFlight, it has to go through a review before testers can download and test it.

My question, then, is: Why not reject the app right there if it doesn’t comply with the rules in the App Reviewer’s eyes?
If this is not checked, why have a review for TestFlight apps in the first place?

Or if that’s unrealistic for some reason, perhaps TestFlight App Review could give sort of a “likelihood of getting through the ‘real’ App Review”. Maybe on the levels of “yea, good luck with that” to “possibly, tentatively not going to be rejected”.

It would have saved me (and the App Review person) a *lot* of time and nerves had, for example, the File Provider extension been rejected right then and there for not being cloud-storage based. Or the keyboard, for not having a traditional method of input. Those are all things that could have been avoided, had TestFlight App Review caught these things.

Reasons for Rejection

Yoink was rejected for different reasons and in different areas of the app.
But those reasons were given to me one by one, one submission and “Waiting for Review” -> “In Review” cycle after another.
That’s *such* a waste of time (not only for the developer, but also for the reviewer. But *especially* for the developer).
Why not keep going after finding a reason for rejection and see if there are other issues after that? If so, the reviewer could note them all down and give them to the developer all at once, not one by one.

Notice of Escalation

When an App Reviewer isn’t sure about an app, the review is “escalated”, meaning it goes up one instance in the App Reviewer hierarchy to be reviewed by a “superior”.
That would be the perfect time to let the developer know in advance that, “look, review is going to take a little longer because we’ve run into an issue with your app. Please stay tuned, we’re working on it.”.
Not only would the developer know that it’s going to take longer for the app to be reviewed, they’d also have reassurance that the App Reviewer hasn’t forgotten about the app – anybody who had an app “In Review” for more than twelve hours knows that feeling 😉

In closing, I’d like to say that I have nothing but respect for App Reviewers. Their job is difficult and, mostly, unthankful.
But I believe a lot of grievances on both sides could be avoided if some of these suggestions were put in place.

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Glimpses 2.2 adds Touch Bar Support

Glimpses Icon

Today, Glimpses v2.2, an app that creates Still Motion Videos with just a few clicks, is available for download from the Mac App Store.
It’s a free upgrade for everyone who purchased it before.
A free, 15-day trial is available for download here, even if you’ve tried it before.

What Is Glimpses?

When you want to show your awesome photos from your recent vacation but there are just too many, you can either sort through them and heavy-heartedly decide which ones to toss aside, or you show them all – with a Still Motion Video.
Still Motion Videos show photos in very rapid succession, usually for the fraction of a second. Mix that with a soundtrack, and you can make your video action-packed and powerful, or mellow and soothing. Or even both.

Glimpses lets you create such high-quality videos with just a few clicks. Import your photos (from your Photos.app library, a hard drive, Flickr or Instagram), add one or more soundtracks and you’re set – Glimpses figures out the rest.
The app creates your video in a smart way:

  • The video’s resolution (ranging from 240p to 4K) will be calculated by looking at the smallest photos you supply
  • Its duration is based on the amount of photos you imported, and the duration of the soundtracks you supplied
  • Soundtracks that turn out too long will automatically fade out smoothly at the end of your video, whereas short soundtracks can be looped
  • Pillar- and letterboxes can be eliminated, if the photo’s resolution allows for it
  • Due to built-in facial recognition, photos are positioned in a way that faces aren’t outside of the video’s frame

However, control is always at the user’s fingertips. For example, soundtracks can be edited so only your favorite part of it is used, in an easy-to-use, yet powerful way:

Screenshot of Glimpses' Soundtrack Editor

Additionally, every other aspect of your video can be manually set up:

Screenshot of Glimpses' Video Settings

What’s New in v2.2?

The update adds support for the new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.

This enables you, without ever leaving Touch Bar, to quickly:
– import photos from flickr or Instagram

final-resized

– filter, or sort photos in your project

final-copy-2-resized

– control QuickLook

final-copy-resized

– and adjust your project’s audio- and video settings

P.S.: I’m having issues with these 3 GIFs looping. Please reload and scroll down to them if you’d like to see them. My apologies.

Additionally, the update improves its QuickLook Plugin so Glimpses project previews are generated a little quicker and more efficiently.
And lastly, I’ve improved the connection to Instagram, so that should work more reliably.

Pricing and Availability

Glimpses 2.2 is available for purchase on the Mac App Store for the price of $19.99 / £14.99 / €19.99. It is a free update for existing customers of the app.
A free, 15-day trial is available on the website, even if you’ve already tried the app.
Glimpses runs on Macs with OS X Yosemite or newer.

If you’re interested in writing about Glimpses, you can download its press kit here, which contains screenshots, a short sample video and further information. A limited amount of promotional codes are available to members of the press at press(at)eternalstorms(dot)at.

Links

Glimpses Website
http://eternalstorms.at/glimpses
Glimpses on the Mac App Store
https://itunes.apple.com/app/glimpses/id637565340?mt=12
Glimpses 15-Day Trial Direct Download
http://eternalstorms.at/glimpses/Glimpses.zip
Glimpses Press Kit
http://eternalstorms.at/press/Glimpses-2-Press-Kit.zip
Glimpses Sample Video on YouTube
https://youtu.be/NCa4Fg6uLoI

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and to see what you think about Glimpses 2.2.
If you like the app, please consider leaving a little review on the Mac App Store, it would help me out a lot! Should you have any feedback or questions, please be sure to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you.

 

 

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iTunes Affiliate Program – One Year In

Last year, I started using the iTunes Affiliate Program.
The program allows you to make a little money by linking to your apps with your affiliate token and lets you track where clicks and purchases come from, as well.
I thought it’d be interesting to do a little retrospective, now that a year has gone by.

Using Affiliate Links

Turning an (Mac) App Store link (or almost any other iTunes – based link) into an affiliate link couldn’t be simpler.
All you need to do is append your affiliate token (like &at=your_token).
Additionally, you can provide context with your links so you can track them more easily later on.
For instance, I “tag” my links with “twitter”, “facebook”, “blog”, “website”, “newsletter”, “yoinkdemo” and so on.
That makes it very easy to track where your customers come from.

I use affiliate links for every iTunes link I share – be it an app of my own or that of another developer.

Tools and Info

There are tools available to you to make affiliate linking even easier, like John Voorhees’ Blink (for iOS).
I personally don’t use any extra software – I have a note in Notes.app with all my affiliate links and then just change the aforementioned context string.

If you’re interested in an in-depth look at the iTunes Affiliate Program, I recommend you read John Voorhees’ excellent comprehensive guide about it on MacStories.
It’ll get you up to speed on how to set it all up.

Where do Clicks Come From?

A very interesting aspect of the iTunes Affiliate Program is its tracking capabilities.
When someone clicks your link, you know:

  • the country the user is in
  • when the link was clicked
  • the context string you provided for the link (like “website”, “blog”, etc)
Live-View of Clicks on Links

A click presented in the live-view of iTunes Affiliate Program’s dashboard. I can see the click came from the US, and from within Yoink‘s “Demo Expired” window.

Furthermore, it tracks what the user purchased – a Mac app, an iOS app, a song, a book, etc.

Top 5 Countries

Based on the number of clicks, the top 5 countries from where people click on my links are:

  1. United States
    22,498 clicks
    $254.15
  2. Brazil
    924 clicks
    $4.96
  3. Germany
    570 clicks
    $76.70
  4. United Kingdom
    91 clicks
    $46.10
  5. Spain
    50 clicks
    $19.17

Apparently, more clicks don’t automatically equal a higher payout.

Conversion Rates

The program allows you to see the conversion rates for your links.
Who really purchased after clicking my link? Here’s what I found out:

  1. 38.62% purchased an app after clicking a link on my website
  2. 25.70% purchased an app after clicking on the link from the “demo expired” window inside the app
    (I haven’t had the affiliate link in the “demo expired” window in Yoink for the entirety of the year, more like only half a year)
  3. 00.72% purchased something when they clicked on a link on my blog

I can’t be sure what the user purchased – once a user clicks a link with an affiliate token, that token is used for the next 24 hours for that user.
Which means that they might click on a link for Yoink, but don’t purchase it. Then, some hours later, they purchase a book on the iBook Store – that will count towards that link’s conversion rate.

A Year of iTunes Affiliate Program Links

Here’s the gist of my first year in the iTunes Affiliate Program:

  • Clicks: 24,647
  • Items Bought: 4,465
  • Revenue Generated: $ 9791.12
  • Payout: $ 685.38
  • Average Conversion Rate: 18.12%

Granted, $685.38 isn’t a lot, but it’s money I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and as an indie developer, every bit counts 😉

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