App Store (iOS)

App Store
App Store (iOS).svg
Operating systemiOS, iPadOS
TypeDigital distribution and www.appstore.com

The App Store is a digital distribution platform, developed and maintained by Apple Inc., for mobile apps on its iOS operating system. The store allows users to browse and download apps developed with Apple's iOS software development kit. Apps can be downloaded on the iPhone smartphone, the iPod Touch handheld computer, or the iPad tablet computer, and some can be transferred to the Apple Watch smartwatch or 4th-generation or newer Apple TVs as extensions of iPhone apps.

The App Store was opened on July 10, 2008, with an initial 500 applications available. As of 2017, the store features over 2.2 million apps.

Developers have multiple options for monetizing their applications, ranging from free, free with in-app purchases, and paid. However, App Store has been criticized for a lackluster development environment, prompting the company in June 2016 to announce a "renewed focus and energy" on the store. Major changes introduced in the following months include ads in search results, a new app subscription model, and the ability for developers to respond to customer reviews. Additionally, Apple began a process to remove old apps that do not function as intended or that don't follow current app guidelines, with app research firms noticing significant numbers of app removals from the store. Furthermore, with the release of iOS 11 in September 2017, App Store received a complete design overhaul, bringing a greater focus on editorial content and daily highlights, as well as a design similar in style to several of Apple's built-in iOS apps.

History

Download on the App Store badge as of 2017

The iPhone App Store opened on July 10, 2008.[1][2][3] On July 11, the iPhone 3G was released and came pre-loaded with support for App Store.[4][5]

After the success of Apple's App Store and the launch of similar services by its competitors, the term "app store" has been adopted to refer to any similar service for mobile devices.[6][7][8] However, Apple applied for a U.S. trademark on the term "App Store" in 2008,[9] which was tentatively approved in early 2011.[10] In June 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who was presiding over Apple's case against Amazon, said she would "probably" deny Apple's motion to stop Amazon from using the "App Store" name.[11][12][13] In July, Apple was denied preliminary injunction against Amazon's Appstore by a federal judge.[14]

The term app has become a popular buzzword; in January 2011, app was awarded the honor of being 2010's "Word of the Year" by the American Dialect Society.[15][16] "App" has been used as shorthand for "application" since at least the mid-1990s,[17] and in product names since at least 2006, for example then-named Google Apps.[18]

Apple announced Mac App Store, a similar app distribution platform for its macOS personal computer operating system, in October 2010,[19][20] with the official launch taking place in January 2011 with the release of its 10.6.6 "Snow Leopard" update.[21][22]

In February 2013, Apple informed developers that they could begin using appstore.com for links to their apps.[23][24][25] In June at its developer conference, Apple announced an upcoming "Kids" section in App Store, a new section featuring apps categorized by age range, and the section was launched alongside the release of iOS 7 in September 2013.[26][27]

In November 2014, due to pressure from the European Commission, Apple updated App Store so that all apps that have no charge to download are labeled "Get" instead of the previous "Free", due to many "free" apps' inclusions of paid in-app purchases.[28][29][30]

In January 2017, reports surfaced that documentation for a new beta for the then-upcoming release of iOS 10.3 detailed that Apple would let developers respond to customer reviews in the App Store, marking a significant change from the previous limitation, which prevented developers from communicating with users.[31][32] The functionality was officially enabled on March 27, 2017 when iOS 10.3 was released to users.[33] Further details were also released about reviews for users, including that they will be able to rate and review apps in the apps themselves rather than being redirected to the App Store, and that they can mark other users' reviews as "Helpful" or "Not Helpful".[34] Apple published a document describing proper ways to respond for developers, including being timely, clear and concise, prioritize certain forms of reviews (low-star ratings, certain countries or recent reviews) through filtering in iTunes Connect, and that developer responses go through an approval process before being published.[34] Developers are also forbidden from manipulating or incenting feedback.[34] Developer responses are listed in the App Store as a line underneath the respective user's review,[34] and users receive a notification/email upon a response from the respective developer, with the option to update their review.[34][35]

In March 2017, App Store submissions containing pricing details, such as "free", in the name started getting rejected. Developers had previously been advised in developer guides in iTunes Connect and App Store overview pages that they should refrain from the practice, though apps were still approved. Starting in March, some (though not all) apps with "free" in their titles were being rejected.[36][37]

In October 2016, in an effort to improve app discoverability, Apple rolled out the ability for developers to purchase advertising spots in App Store to users in the United States.[38] The ads, shown at the top of the search results,[39][40] are based strictly on relevant keywords, and are not used to create profiles on users.[41] Apple expanded search ads to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand in April 2017, along with more configurable advertising settings for developers.[42][43] Search ads were expanded to Canada, Mexico and Switzerland in October 2017.[44] In December 2017, Apple revamped its search ads program to offer two distinctive versions; "Search Ads Basic" is a pay-per-install program aimed at smaller developers, in which they only pay when users actually install their app. Search Ads Basic also features an easier setup process and a restricted monthly budget. "Search Ads Advanced" is a new name given to the older method, in which developers have to pay whenever users tap on their apps in search results, along with unlimited monthly budgets. At launch, the Basic program is only available in the U.S., with international rollout expected "sometime next year".[45][46]

Apple also offers an iTunes Affiliate Program, which lets people refer others to apps and other iTunes content, along with in-app purchases, for a percentage of sales. The commission rate for in-app purchases was reduced from 7% to 2.5% in May 2017, while affiliate rates for paid apps, music, movies, books, and TV shows remained at 7%.[47][48]

App Store received a major design overhaul with the release of iOS 11. The new design features a greater focus on editorial content and daily highlights, and introduces a "cleaner and more consistent and colorful look" similar to several of Apple's built-in iOS apps.[49][50][51]

Prior to September 2017, Apple offered a way for users to manage their iOS app purchases through the iTunes computer software. In September, version 12.7 of iTunes was released, removing the App Store section in the process.[52][53] However, the following month, iTunes 12.6.3 was also released, retaining the App Store, with 9to5Mac noting that the secondary release was positioned by Apple as "necessary for some businesses performing internal app deployments".[54][55]

In December 2017, Apple announced that developers could offer applications for pre-order, letting them make apps visible in the store between 2–90 days ahead of release.[56][57]

On January 4, 2018, Apple announced that the App Store had a record-breaking holiday season according to a new press release. During the week starting on Christmas Eve, a record number of customers made App Store purchases, spending more than $890 million in that seven-day period. On New Year's Day 2018 alone, customers made $300 million in purchases.[58]

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