In the ASO Monthly-series by ASO Consultancy Phiture, we reflect on the previous month and shed a light on trends in app store optimization, algorithm changes, insights in conversion rate optimization and tools updates.

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This update was written by Skylar Grabecz, an ASO Consultant at Phiture.

ASO Monthly September 2019- iOS 13 Release, New Play Store In-App Review Prompt Preview, and Google Play Pass

September 4: App Store Gears Towards More Personalization in the Search Tab

A new Search Page layout has been spotted on the App Store.

old and new search page layout apple app store

The new search tab no longer shows trending searches, but instead features Discover search terms and Suggested Apps and Games, which will incorporate user behavior into the algorithm.

Suggested apps are now being displayed with their app icons included. It will most likely attract users’ attention better than the former text-only version.

The new search page design will incorporate a personalized section that will be updated based on search history and other personal factors. It will take up around 90% of the screen’s real estate and will include actual app listings — with icons included — as well as an install button. This will have a greater impact on users who are just browsing, as users searching for a specific app will likely not be as easily persuaded by the new layout. Keep an eye out for a potential increase in browse and non-branded search that may be on the horizon if this update goes live.

September 5: An Easier Way to Pay on the Google Play Store in India With UPI

Over the next month, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) will begin showing up as a new payment method for purchasing apps, games, and in-app content in India’s Play Store. UPI has been increasing in popularity as a payment method for everyday expenses due to its convenience of use, such as the ability to easily transfer funds across bank accounts. Google hopes that UPI will give Indian users an even easier way to pay for apps and in-app content on the Play Store, alongside its existing methods, which include credit or debit cards, net banking, direct carrier billing, and gift cards options.

September 12: ‎Google Aims for Simpler Review Process With the Preview of a New In-App Prompt

New information has surfaced regarding a story from ASO Monthly #39 July about speculation that Google is working on a new in-app review prompt for the Play Store. A test version of the new prompt included a form on the lower part of the screen, styled in the same theme as the Play Store, where users could leave a star rating and write a review without having to leave their app and go to the Play Store.

The hope with this change is that users will be more willing to leave valuable feedback if the review system doesn’t impede on their app user flow. This would be a win for developers too, as it would allow them to more easily rack up those valuable, yet elusive written reviews.

google simpler review process

Source: 9to5Google

September 12: Apple Responds to Accusations of Tricking the Search Algorithm

Apple has added a new section to its site, titled “Learn More About Search Results and Ranking”, in response to allegations that it was tricking the algorithm to favor Apple apps. One of the points highlighted in the response was that a user query may match multiple apps, in which case the Apple search engine would present the “best possible matches” at the top of the search results.

Apple also mentioned that “additional factors” are considered when deciding how to order apps in the search results. Some of these factors include metadata provided by developers, the popularity of the app in the App Store and how other customers have engaged with the apps, however, as one could have expected, specifics were not provided.

September 12: Google Play Store in Dark Mode

In the wake of popularity surrounding the availability of dark mode supported apps on Android 10, news has surfaced that Google will follow suit and release dark versions of its apps. This means that a dark mode Play Store is on the way, along with other Google apps such as Google Maps and Gmail. Also worth noting, dark mode apps do more than just “look cool” — they are said to provide users with benefits like extending battery life (which we all so desperately need!) and being easier on the eyes.

September 13: Apple Introduces “Grace Period” for Lapsed App Store Subscriptions

Apple’s decision seems to be aimed at reducing “involuntary churn” — or unsubscriptions occurring as a result of billing issues. This new grace period is a win-win for users and developers alike, as users will have uninterrupted access to their subscription-based features during the grace period (either 6 days or 16 days depending on the app’s subscription model) and developers will be able to better retain satisfied customers.

App developers looking to incorporate this feature will have to opt-in by enabling the function in App Store Connect and will also have to build server-side support into the app itself. While not as frictionless as Google Play’s grace period feature, which has been around since 2018 and doesn’t require any additional server-side support, Apple’s version is definitely a step in the right direction towards improving subscription models on the App Store.

September 18: New Report on Google Play — “Growth Rate Compared to Peers”

Google Play is now offering a “Growth rate compared to peers” chart that will show you how certain metrics are performing in relation to other apps on the App Store. This new report will give you better statistical insights into how your app is performing and whether “seasonality” is an acceptable explanation of your app’s performance over a specific period.

According to Google, the following comparisons will be available:

Peer group: Use the Peer group selector to choose a set of apps to compare your app with.

Display: Use the Display selector to choose the value for the dimension you’ve selected.

September 19: iOS 13 — How Will It Impact Your ASO Strategy?

As we venture into the era of iOS 13, two major features to keep an eye on while developing your ASO strategy are the release of a new App Store algorithm, Apple Arcade, and dark mode.

New Algorithm: Apple has released a keyword algorithm update causing massive movement in keyword rankings across all keywords [keyword movements linked to the Apple algorithm change after the release of iOS 13 in September 2019]

Apple Arcade: Apple Arcade is coming in at a lower price than expected, thus signaling that Apple is focusing on growing its Apple Arcade user base. That being said, it’s likely that a significant amount of featuring and editorial real estate will be dedicated to Apple Arcade in both the Today tab and the Games tab. If this does prove to be the case, then it will have an impact on the number of featuring opportunities that exist for non-Arcade games.

Dark Mode: Although iOS 13 will roll out the launch of dark mode, developers need to remember that they won’t have the ability to customize creative assets for specific modes. Making sure that creative assets look good in both light and dark mode will ensure that dark mode doesn’t have a negative impact on ASO efforts.

September 23: Google Play Pass Has Arrived

Google has released its new subscription-based service for Play Store apps and games, Google Play Pass. At the time of release, Play Pass boasted an extensive catalog of around 350 games which will be served to subscribers ad-free and without any in-app purchases. This news comes only a week after Apple announced its subscription-based service, Apple Arcade, and the two services are identically priced at $4.99 per month. If you’re planning on trying it out, Google is offering a 10-day free trial and is said to be offering a special introductory price of $1.99 per month for one year.

September 26: Mario Kart Tour Smashes Day One Install Records With 10.1 Million Installs

The new Mario Kart app set a new record for first-day installs with a whopping 10.1 million downloads worldwide. These day-1 numbers smashed the previous record of 6.7 million first-day downloads, previously held by Pokemon Go. So, how do you go about achieving numbers like this, you may ask? The success was largely due to massive marketing efforts, worldwide brand recognition, and pre-orders, which meant that the game was automatically downloaded onto pre-order subscribed devices upon release.

September 28: AltStore Has Officially Launched for iOS

On September 28th, an iOS App Store alternative, AltStore, officially launched. AltStore marks the beginning of an era of being able to find apps that don’t adhere to Apple’s strict publishing rules. While this isn’t a completely new concept, this type of workaround used to only be possible if a phone was jailbroken. AltStore flips that process on its head by using a feature that Apple gives to developers for testing their apps on real devices. This method essentially tricks your device into thinking it’s installing apps made by yourself and thus eliminates the need for jailbreaking. Despite this, AltStore is still in a technical greyzone so if you are planning on trying it out, proceed with caution!

September 28: Google Play Adds One-Tap Options for Leaving All Beta Programs, Clearing Wishlist, and More

Google Play has been steadily adding to a long list of different opt-in features for apps, including joining beta programs, adding apps to your wishlist, registering for app notifications, and more. If you’ve ever wanted to clear all this data at once, today is your lucky day! Google has now made it possible to do so in a new “Google Play preferences” section, which lets you clear all your opt-in data in one tap.

Although these options were available in the past on a per-app basis, the new section has made this process a lot easier. Some speculate that this change will mainly be used for improving troubleshooting, as it may help to better alleviate user complaints pertaining to app performance issues.

September 28: Google Play Store — The Latest Tests

Permission and Reviews: Google Play is testing a “Permission and Reviews” section in “Manage your apps”. Speculators suggest that this could be a section that lists all your previously submitted reviews.

Shortcut to App Installer: Google Play Protect is testing a shortcut button to manage app installer permission.

Auto-Play Video: Google Play Store will provide a toggle setting for enabling/disabling auto-play for video.

App Display Visibility: Google Play Store is testing app display size to increase visibility for some apps

App of the Week: Google Play Store is testing an “App of the Week” editorial.

Leave All Beta Programs: Google Play is testing a button that will allow you to leave all beta programs.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to connect with our team at Phiture on Twitter, or join the conversation in our ASO Stack slack channel.

Upcoming events in October

App Store Optimization Conference New York 2019 (New York, USA, October 3)

App Growth Summit Programmatic NYC ‘19 (New York, USA, October 2)

ACTIVATELONDON (London, UK, October 3)

Mobile & App Marketing Amsterdam Summit 2 (Amsterdam, NL, October 3)

Amplify 2019 (San Francisco, USA, October 9)

Digital Marketing Conference (Singapore, SG, October 9–10)

White Nights Moscow (Moscow, RU, October 16–17)

Mobile Growth Summit Asia ‘19 (Jakarta, ID, October 17)

Mobile World Congress Americas (Los Angeles, USA, October 22–24)

App Growth Summit SF 2019 (San Francisco, USA, October 24)

Mobilization 2019 Conference (Łódź, PL, October 26)

2019 Long-Term Relationship Conference (New York, USA, October 29–30)

African Games and Digital Applications Conference and Exhibition (Cairo, EG, October 31 – November 2)

Tools updates

[UI Update] Dashboard Got Revamped! – Mobile Action Blog

Hey there App Marketers! At MobileAction, one thing we care as much as data is how we present it. So, we keep updating…

[New Feature] Category Keywords is live! – Mobile Action Blog

As MobileAction, we know that ASO is a repetitive and tedious work! To make the job of ASO warriors easier, we…

Keyword Download Estimates Now Available for Google Play – ASO Blog

You have been waiting for it… Monthly downloads per keywords for Android apps are now live on AppTweak! Discover…

[NEW] Keyword Monitoring: See Unusual Ranking Movements – ASO Blog

UPDATE September 2019] – We’ve totally revamped our Keywords Movement section to give you even better insights. In just…

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