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How to Restrict In-App Purchases on Your iPhone

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Recently Apple lost a lawsuit and had to make huge refunds to people whose children made unsolicited in-app purchases in games. This often happened because of the way in-app purchases functioned. As you may know, Apple keeps the in-app purchase window active for 15 minutes so that users don’t have to enter their password again by default to make more purchases. Often children abused this function and made in-app purchases with their parents’ accounts, which resulted in huge bills for the parents. If you want to protect your App Store account from unsolicited purchases, here is how you can do it.

The easiest way to prevent unsolicited App Store purchases is to remove your payment method from your account. This will make in-app purchases take a bit longer because you will have to enter your payment information every time, but your kids (or a hacker) won’t be able to use your credit card to buy stuff.

Another way to restrict purchases is to set up a passcode that will be required every time you want to make a purchase. This will help you bypass the 15-minute rule. To set up a passcode, go to Settings – General – Restrictions and tap on Enable Restrictions. Set up your passcode and then tap Require Password and change the settings to Immediately.

In addition to that, you can disable in-app purchases altogether via your account settings. On your device, tap on Settings – General and tap on Restrictions. Then tap on Enable Restrictions and set a passcode for this option. You will then be able to select which purchases to disable. Simply select In-App Purchases and they will be disabled. Don’t worry, you can re-enable them any time you want!

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How to Make Your App Blogger-Friendly and Get Featured

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We all love it when our apps are featured on popular blogs because that means better exposure, more downloads and more revenue. But how to get bloggers choose your app from thousands of other apps on the App Store? Here are some tips that will help you make your app blogger-friendly.

Get on Twitter

Twitter is a great tool for connecting with bloggers. A good way to start is to create a dedicated account for your app, customize the profile page with some cool graphics, start tweeting engaging tweets. Then start following app bloggers and make sure you retweet some of their tweets. Most likely bloggers will follow you back, which means that they will get your news. Plus you can always DM them and ask them to review your app.

Create a video

Everybody loves videos. Creating an interesting video demo for your app will do a lot more than a meticulous description with screenshots. Make the video fun and post it on your website, YouTube and your app’s landing page. And don’t forget to include a code to make it easy for bloggers to embed your video in their posts.

Create a landing page

Most of your end users will find your app via the App Store, but bloggers are very likely to Google for more information about the app they want to review. An engaging landing page that tells your app’s story and features your video will make your app stand out. Make sure the landing page has a clean design that replicates your app’s interface, a clean demonstration of your app’s features (that’s where the video comes in), and a call to action.

Now you know how to make your app blogger-friendly. Just remember that bloggers are also users, so the best selling point of your app is its overall performance and quality.

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Three User Retention Mistakes You Should Avoid

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If you think that the most difficult part is getting users to download your app, then you are wrong. It’s a lot harder to convince them to keep using your app. A recent study showed that as much as 80-90% of all users uninstall the app after using it only once. So you can see how important it is to concentrate on user retention and avoid some common mistakes.

Mistake 1: Registration

It’s very tempting to ask your users to register and get their details such as email and name. Even if you want to use this information to personalize their user experience and not to bombard them with promotions, you should think again. Studies show that up to 50% of users abandon an app if they are asked to register to start using it. If you want to retain those users, you should either get rid of registration altogether or at least delay it.

Mistake 2: Slow Load Time

Everybody hates slow software, especially if it’s a slow mobile app. That’s why most users ditch apps that take a long time to load. To avoid this, you should test your app on all devices and see if you can make it load as quickly as possible.

Mistake 3: Too Much Tapping

Unless your app is a game, your users won’t like it if they have to tap a lot to make the app do whatever it’s supposed to do. Each tap is a part of user experience and if there are too many steps, users are likely to get frustrated. That’s why you should make app functions available with the minimum amount of taps possible.

Try to avoid these common user retention mistakes and your dedicated user base will grow.

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A Checklist for Submitting Your iOS App to the App Store

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It’s easy to submit your app to the App Store, right? Not exactly. Yes, it is easy if you follow the rules, but you have to make sure you don’t neglect any details to avoid being rejected. Here is a checklist for submitting your iPhone app to the App Store.

1. Create your account

If you don’t have a Developer Program account already ($99/year), you’ll need to sign up for one to submit your app. Having a Developer account will give you access to the iOS Dev Center, various app testing tools, and distribution services. Make sure your account has all required information and a D-U-N-S number.

The best way to go is to create a Developer account as soon as you start developing your first app. Then you will have access to all the tools as soon as you need them.

2. App info

When you upload your app, the App Store will ask you to fill in some required app information. This includes app name, its default language, SKU number, and bundle ID. App name and SKU number must be unique, whereas the bundle ID has to match the one in your app’s Info.plist file.

3. Price and availability

This is the step where you add your app’s price and set its release date. The price can be anything you want, but most app prices range from free to $4.99. As for the release date, current date is selected by default, but you can change it to any date in the future. Remember that if you set your release date to current date, the app won’t show under New Releases.

4. Category and copyright 

Selecting the correct category and subcategories for your app is vitally important. First you will be asked to select the primary category for your app. Select the one where your app fits best, and then proceed to selecting the subcategories. Be very careful with your choices because you won’t be able to change the categories once the app is submitted for review.

When you are done selecting categories, you will be asked to enter copyright information.

5. Meta description and keywords

At this stage you will be asked to enter your app’s metadata: app description and app keywords. Currently the maximum app description length is 4000 characters. Keep all important information in the first 2-3 line of app’s description for ASO purposes.

You can edit the app description at any time, but you can’t edit your keywords once you submit them. That’s why you should do all your ASO research before you submit your keywords.

At this point, you will also need to enter a URL to a support site. One URL is required, but you can add more if you want to.

6. Images

This is where you add your app icon (1024×1024) and app screenshots. Make sure they are top quality and meet all App Store requirements.

7. Information about you

To submit your app for review you’ll need to enter your name, email address and a working phone number. This information is for Apple’s use only and it won’t be made public.

8. Submit your app

Now you are ready to submit your app for review. Before you hit the button, read Apple’s guidelines to make sure you’ve done everything correctly.

Are In-App Purchases Enough to Monetize Your App?

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Not long ago Swrve, a trusted app marketing and analytics company, published the results of a survey that claimed that only 0.15% of all mobile game players contribute 50% of all in-app purchases revenue in free-to-play games. This means that despite all mobile game developers’ efforts most users will never spend any money within the mobile game.

The good news is that the report confirms the idea of groups of power users who are essential to the app’s growth. As a developer you can use your analytics to identify these users and start your user retention campaigns. You can retain those users by offering them goodies like VIP status that allows access to early updates and extra features. Your power users are those who are very likely to react to in-app purchases and spend money within your app or game.

Another important thing that the report shows is that once you convince the user to make the initial purchase, he or she is very likely to keep spending money within your app.

As for the rest of your users, they are very unlikely to spend anything on your game. That’s why you need to get really creative and convince them to make in-app purchases. One way of doing so is offering them attractive discounts and rewards. But if that strategy doesn’t work too well, you might consider implementing some form of advertising. Just make sure you keep the annoyance levels at the minimum.

The bottom line is that if your app or game offers in-app purchases, you should make the maximum out of analytics to pinpoint your power users and market the app to them.

Where to Get Early Beta Users for Your iOS App

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When you develop an app and it’s almost ready, you need to test its initial features and discover as many bugs as possible before you release the app to the public. But it can be really difficult to find early Beta testers. OK, you can ask your friends and family to test-drive your app, but that’s not enough. Here are three websites where you can get early beta users for your iPhone app.

 1. PreApps

PreApps is a service that connects mobile app users who are looking for new things with developers who want to find beta testers. Basically, it lets you get access to early user feedback that can be crucial to your app’s quality. Posting your app is completely free and you can also pay a fee for the service to include your app in the Featured Apps section.

2. Reddit

If you think that Reddit is just for funny GIFs, then you are wrong. It’s a great social network where you can discuss pretty much anything. More importantly, there is a thread called Screenshot Saturday where you can post screenshots of your app and get feedback from the community.

3. UserTesting

This is a very unique service that lets you actually see how your target users interact with your app. Here is how it works:

  1. You post your app for a $49 fee, select your target audience (age, gender, etc.) and set tasks users have to complete.
  2. Users download your app and perform the tasks. While completing the tasks, each user is filmed with a high-res webcam and speaks out his or her comments.

Evernote used this service to greatly improve user experience based on feedback from UserTesting testers.

Remember that it’s never too early to start getting feedback from real users. Start the process as soon as the first beta is ready and you’ll be able to avoid a lot of negative user reviews when you release your app to the general public.

Apple Opens “Designing Great Apps” Hub for iOS App Developers

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If you have developed at least one iPhone app and submitted it to the App Store, then you know that complying with all Apple’s guidelines is not very easy. One of the problems has always been finding out what is allowed and what is not from the design point of view, which meant spending hours reading the Developer Portal. But now Apple makes it easier for developers to find all the information they need thanks to the new “Designing Great Apps” hub.

“Designing Great Apps” has all the information you need to know about Apple’s design requirements plus lots of helpful tips. Here is how Apple introduces the hub:

“Exceptional user experience is a hallmark of Apple products, and a distinguishing feature of the most successful apps built for iOS and OS X. Use the resources below to learn how to build the polished, engaging, and intuitive apps that Apple customers expect.”

The content in “Designing Great Apps” is a compilation of existing Apple resources that has conveniently been put in one place where it’s accessible at any time. There are articles and videos available for iOS app developers. There are tutorials on designing iOS apps and games, creating great iOS interface designs, iOS Human interface guidelines, and lots more. The articles can be read by anyone, but watching the videos requires you to have a developer account.

Why Creating a Copycat Mobile Game App Is a Bad Idea

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The terrific rise and fall of Flappy Bird made it very tempting for every wannabe iOS game developer to create something similar and capitalize on Dong Nguyen’s viral game. But if you are thinking about jumping onto the bandwagon, think again. Read on to find out why it’s a bad idea.

First of all, you can’t use the word “flappy” in your app or game title anymore because both Apple’s App Store and Google Play started rejecting apps that have it in the title. So that vague opportunity is gone. But this is not the most important bit.

You see, being a copycat app developer ruins your reputation and doesn’t bring the cash you hope to see coming. Just think of it – when every Tom, Dick and Harry is releasing a game that repeats Flappy Birds, what are the chances of your flappy game to attract players and revenue? And even if creating a clone may bring you some short-term earnings, it will damage your chances of releasing a successful original game in the future. Everyone will remember you as a copycat.

Another reason why you should not create copycat mobile games is getting rejected by the App Store. The App Store has regulations and they are there for a good reason – to ensure that iPhone and iPad users get a good experience and high quality apps. When you are blatantly copying someone else’s game, you are tempting the App Store to reject your game. Moreover, there’s a good chance that the App Store will pay closer attention to your future submissions. So, if you don’t want that unnecessary attention that will lead to rejections, stay away from copying the work of others.

Remember that it’s a much better idea to invest your time and money into your own creative game idea and capitalize on that. The reward may not be immediate, but you would be a lot better off in the long run.

Gym Tuck Mobile App Got Featured on CNN.com

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Every iPhone app developer appreciates recognition from authoritative websites, especially non-industry related websites. Our team has achieved that: Gym Tuck, one of the latest apps that we developed, got featured on CNN.com.

Gym Tuck is an iOS app we created together with Joshua Lipsey, a top grade athlete and fitness professional from Toronto, Ontario. The app offers iPhone and iPad users the option to stay fit with the help of a custom fitness plan without having to visit a gym. The fitness program is designed by Lipsey and the app lets every single person configure it to their individual needs. This flexibility and effectiveness helped Alanna Stern, a mother of three, to not only lose weight but also adapt a new lifestyle and start enjoying working out.

CNN.com shared Alanna’s story with the world where Alanna proved that Lipsey’s program and app really work. Nothing is impossible provided you have the right tools and it looks like our Gym Tuck app was exactly what Alanna needed to achieve tremendous weight loss results.

From our side, we are very happy that a relatively new app (Gym Tuck was launched last November) has already gained so much recognition. We are also glad that it proved to be so effective and easy to use to help Alanna – and we hope many others – get fit.

Choosing an Icon for Your App: The DOs and DON’Ts

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So you’ve spent months (or even years) working on your app – you’ve come up with a cool idea, got your app designed and did a lot of programming. And now is the time to name your app and create an icon that will appear on the App Store. Newbie developers think that this is the easiest part of the iOS app development process, but experienced developers know that choosing an icon for your app and coming up with a catchy name is not all that easy.

Great app names and icons often seem like brilliant inspirations that came out of nowhere. But in most cases a lot of hard work is involved. We’ve already posted an article about naming your app, so now we are going to tell you the DOs and DON’Ts of creating an icon for your app.

DO:

- keep your icon simple. Remember that you have limited space, so adding too much to the icon will clutter it and make it look bad.

- use the same color palette that you use in your app’s interface. Just like with the elements, try to stick to 2-3 key colors.

- test your icon to see how it looks on different backgrounds. Check it against different colors and textures to make sure your app icon is always clearly visible.

DON’T:

- use a scaled-down photo. A downsized photo doesn’t work well as an icon and looks terrible compared to professionally designed icons for other apps on the App Store.

- use text on your icon. Your app icon is not the app’s title, so avoid using any text if you don’t want to put off prospective users.

- copy design elements from iOS. Yes, you should design your icon in the same style so that it looks good, but don’t steal anything. Set your app apart from the default icons in iOS.