Creating Compelling App Descriptions for iTunes and the iOS App Stores

When you submit an iOS application for review, you’ve got to make sure your ad copy is tight.  The app description may be the last thing holding back a tap to buy your app.

Apple doesn’t give much guidance on this important chunk of text. “Write your Application Description with a focus on what makes the functionality or design of your app unique.” was a tip from this past June from the App Store Tips blog.

We know that 4000 characters is the limit.  And App descriptions are made up of simple text, including unicode symbols like checkboxes (✔) and more (♣☢☂).  Apple takes your unicode text and formats it for display on the web via Web Preview, in iTunes and on the iOS devices themselves (the app store).

Since you probably have very specific points you want to get across, and users have a very short attention span, you need to pay attention to how Apple will format what you write.  In this entry I discuss how to create app descriptions that look great everywhere Apple publishes your app description.

Continue reading Creating Compelling App Descriptions for iTunes and the iOS App Stores

iTunes App Store Hacks Result of Apple ID Password Policy

The subject matter of my previous blog post is now front page news, and Apple has now responded.  Time for a  follow-up with some additional thoughts.  This entry questions the Password Policy for Apple ID and asks whether it may be responsible for past and future attempts to manipulate app ranking in the App store.

A Note on Media Alignment

It is worth noting that we’re beginning to see more media outlets align with or against Apple.  From my frequent review of popular mobile news coverage, it has become clear that Gizmodo and PC World do their best to highlight gaffes and problems in the iTunes ecosystem or just about iAnything.  Meanwhile a blog like MacRumors seeks to downplay news that might be viewed as concerning or add to the distress from iphone4antennaegate. (I just made that up).

While the title of these publications alone should serve as a strong indicator, keeping track is important.   The Clintons are well known for keeping their loyalty lists in order and it is entirely reasonable to assume Apple is doing the same.   Continue reading iTunes App Store Hacks Result of Apple ID Password Policy

New MIA Album Maya Now Streaming

I don’t know how MIA arrived at the decision to stream her new album via MySpace, though I can only assume that it had something to do with a curly line struck through by a straight line.  ThatPlace is a harbinger of bad user experience that may be contagious.

The good news is that soon we may find hardened amber containing DNA from this long evolved-past website.  Following this, a white bearded father figure may start a park on a remote island in South America seeking to recreate the fantasy of this long departed wild animal leading to an escape and adventure beyond our wildest expectations.

Here’s a link to check out the new album:  http://www.myspace.com/mia

iTunes Accounts Hacked, App Rankings in Books Category Gamed

I was tipped off that a widespread effort is underway to game the Books category of iOS apps in the iTunes App store.  It appears that a coordinated effort is underway to use iTunes accounts to purchase specific apps to drive them up in rankings.

This of course affects those who have unauthorized charges to their credit card, and also those developers with apps in competition for rankings in the book category.

My guess would be that the unethical developer behind this push would also game up competitors apps so that it is unclear which is at fault or benefiting the most from the hacking.  It seems that Apple should have checks and balances to detect for and trigger a flag when a previously unpopular, over-priced iOS app is suddenly in the top 10.

Evidence of folks who have discovered hacks are currently in the comments for some of the apps that have made their way up through gaming.  Currently “Conan 3″ an app described as “this is a application to read book” by Thuat Nguyen is in position #9 in the books category today. One of the reviews is as follows:

Watch Out!

Someone out there is hacking into people’s iTunes accounts.  This just happened to me last night.  Luckily, my bank is right on top of things like this and did not authorize release of the funds and closed the account.  Keep a watchful eye on your account information….often!”

Here’s a screen shot of that app’s preview page as it stands. Here are a few tweets about folks getting their iTunes account hacked and an article from May on what the fallout when your iTunes account gets hacked.

Consider updating your iTunes password to include numbers, characters and capitalization!

Course Files for Stanford CS 193P iPhone / iOS App Development Winter 2010

Stanford was kind enough to release all of its CS 193P iPhone / iOS Application Development course under Creative Commons.  The lecture videos [iTunes link] are available for free download through iTunes U.

When I went in search for the course files, I found them all individually linked on the course downloads page.  Since I don’t want to have to return to this page, I used a Firefox plugin to download all of the files and then organized them into folders. The result is one single archive for you to download.

Download – Stanford CS193P.zip – 81.3 MB

Most people are going to get an error when building projects from this set: “error: There is no SDK with the name or path…” Gonzalo Gasca posted a four step solution to this:

1. From the Projects menu in XCode, choose “Edit Project Settings”
2. Click on the “General” tab. Near the bottom of the inspector window, you should see the path to the non-existant SDK that’s troubling you.
3. Change the selection for “Cross-Develop Using Target SDK:” to another listed SDK instead of “Other” as it probably currently reads.
4. Click Build, and away you go!

It is nothing short of amazing that this level of educational material is available for free.  I came across the Stanford course after Windows Phone 7 evangelist Paul Thurrott pointed out that Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do in the realm of developer documentation and free training products.  He’s right.