Archive for September, 2009

Daily struggle with iTunes Connect

itunesThanks to Apple for giving us the App Store – a great opportunity for developers to publish their applications.

But like I’ve stated before iTunes Connect (ITC) isn’t probably the best tool to administrate the own apps. I’d like to post a few other problems beside the low speed and the temporarily unattainability of the service.

Localization without a standard language

If you’ve made the same mistake as I’ve made you’ll be the dweep. As a German developer (therefore: excuse my horrible English!) I have chosen German as the default language when setting up ITC for the first time. Now I have to give the informations for the app in German (app description, keywords, screenshots) and the informations for all other languages have to be submitted singly. That means I have to enter app description, keywords and have to upload screenshots for English (USA), UK English, Australian English, Canadian English and so on. If I do not all app stores beside of the German, the Austrian and the Swiss store will display the informations in German language!


Remember: Chose English as the default language within ITC, otherwise the localization will cost you an hour for every app!

Keywords as a great defiance

In former times the app description has been the most important part for finding an app within the App Store. Customers could find your app very easily with a wisely chosen description text. Apple changed that two months ago. The search within iTunes or the iPhone now is only looking for the search term within the app title and special keywords. Those keywords have to be submitted when submitting the app or the update for an application to the reviewer team. But Apple isn’t generous: Only 100 characters are allowed! Now try to submit the most important keywords without infringing the magical limitation of 100 characters!

Remember: Make great effort in finding the most important keywords, otherwise your app won’t be found easily within the App Store!

Prudery and other oddnesses

hottest-girls-app-iphoneA lot of articles (like Cult of Mac, …)have been written about the problem of the age rating within the app store. Most famous is the banning of an applications where the users could see bikini girls without bikini 🙂 Ok, Apple doesn’t seem to like nipples, all right. I have no problems with that (or just a little problem – sex sells millions). But what about the ratings of some applications which comes completely without nipples, asses or even genitals (yikes!)?
Why does an application with Wikipedia informations have to be rated by age of 17+ like the app Wikipanion by Robert Chin (iTunes link)? Because also a nipple is part of an encyclopedia or because it has informations about a poison? Smells like absurdly censorship. Or what about the weather application by the German television station RTL (iTunes Link)? I swear, no woman is showing her nipples while explaining the upcoming weather!
Otherwise one can find games with great brutality just with a low rating like Resident Evil 4 by CAPCOM (iTunes Link) at a rating of 9+! I wouldn’t let my 12 year old son play this game, truly not. The brutal shooter Doom Resurrection by id Software (iTunes Link) is at a rating of 12+, in Germany the original game Doom has no approval for people below 18 years. (But nipples can be seen in German TV advertisements for shower gel already at 6 pm.)
I’m sorry, but the stance of Apple is in that point a little bit hypocritical: Every iPhone or iPod Touch comes with the Mobile Safari. So sites like an other porn sites are just one click away! I have an understanding for disallowing porn within an iPhone application. I have no understanding for rejecting apps because of offensive words like happend with an update for Tweetie.

Remember: Verify exactly the content of your application so that Apple won’t find nudity, offensive words of your community like “fuck” or a recipe for a poison. But use splatter brutality as much as you like and you won’t get into trouble!

Daily adjustment of availability date

I’m ashamed but I have to admit: When we have an app or an update in review process we’re adjusting the availability date every day! You might ask because of what reason … that’s easy. When an app or an update comes online into the App Store the release date won’t be set automatically, criminy! When entering all data for an app the availability date will be set to today. If you’re not looking after the date it will remain to that date – even when the app goes online after 10-20 days of review process.
Currently about 80,000 apps can be found within Apple’s App Store … or *can’t* be found, because there are already to much applications. You have nearly no chance to get on the home screen of the App Store and you won’t be featured, don’t even think about that. When your app isn’t reaching the Top 20 of a genre immediately your app also can’t be found within the hit lists. So your only chance to be found is about the lists with new releases.
But to do so you have to adjust the availability date  for your app in review every day, because you don’t know when it will be released by Apple. If it’s released you can be sure that it will appear within the lists with new releases. Annoying work, but important.

Remember: Adjust the date of availability every day to make sure that your app will appear within the new releases. That’s your biggest chance to be found!

There are of course even more points of criticism but its enough for today. Let’s make a conclusion:

We’re demanding humbly

  1. Apple, please provide us a check-box like “Use this for every app store”, so we do not have to localize for every App Store with always the same informations.
  2. Apple, please revert to the former functionality of searching within the app description or alternatively donate us at least 255 characters for the keywords.
  3. Apple, please reconsider the ratings respective ban porn but don’t censor apps with encyclopedic informations or apps wherein the community uses demotic words.
  4. Apple, please set the date automatically to the date of release so that an application will be shown up correctly when it’s released.

Thank you in advance!

We want promo codes work globally

GiftEvery iPhone developer can download 50 promo codes for every app resp. app version within iTunes Connect. That is a great service provided by Apple. You can provide these codes to friends or press people to test your application. Fine!

The only problem for developers out of the US is just that these codes are working only with the US store of iTunes. Neither one of our friends nor the people of the German press have an US account, so the promo codes are needless for German developers.

Two days ago Jack Ivers twittered the therefore important tweet:

Apple, please make our promo codes work globally!

Yes, dear Apple, please make the promo codes work globally! That would be a great help for all developers out of the US.

Strange sectioning of regions for app sales

moneyI love my job, it’s probably the best I’ve ever had: Designing and developing after my fancy, sending to Apple, receiving the money from Apple. It’s a comfortable way to bring the own work to customers worldwide.

The only thing  for what I don’t see the fun of it is the way Apple is arranging the regions for app sales. Possibly Apple, as an US corporate, has another view of the world as is. I would have divided the world into the sales regions: USA, Europe, Asia, South America and rest of the world (for all countries with lower sales).

How is Apple dividing the world to pay the developers? Ok, we have the US of course as the most important market and we have Europa as another huge and important region. But why there’s a single financial report for the UK? While I can understand to put asian countries into the financial report “Rest of world” I don’t see a reason for having a single report for Japan, a market which isn’t that important for applications made in English or European languages. And does Apple believe in a huge importance for sales for countries like Australia and Canada or because of what reason both have its own financial report?

You might wonder why I’m complaining about financial reports for Japan, Australia, Canada and (a little bit) UK? That’s just because Apple is paying not until 250 US-$ has been sold within a concrete region. My earnings for the month of August have been for Australia  25.04 AUD (21.73 US-$), for Canada 25.9 CAD (23.69 US-$) and for Japan 2,018 Yen (22.51 US-$). So as a developer you have to wait a lot of months until you’ll get money for that “tiny” (in a matter of app sales) regions.
That might be because of different currencies. But you have also a lot of different currencies in “Rest of World”. It wouldn’t be a problem to calculate all sales and therefore earnings in the currency US-$. The result would be that a developer would receiving the whole earnings per month and not only a part of it. So Apple, please reconsider that, thanks in advance!

Minor bug in v2.0 fixed

antibugWe’ve had discovered a minor bug within the latest version of our Super Trumps games. Within the high score lists a wrong country flag is displayed for devices set to an English speaking country.

The resolution has been facile: Just the wrong part of the local identifier is written currently. With an local identifier of e. g. en_UK the part “en” is written, not “uk”. And because there is no image for an en-flag this blue UN flag is displayed.

Please be patient until the update reaches the App Store. Version 2.0.1 will fix this annoying problem.

iTunes Connect still a pain in the neck

itunesI’m a huge fan(atic) of everything Apple is publishing, I swear! I love my iMac, my MacBook, my iPod Touch, my other iPods and above all my iPhone. I also love the software products by Apple, iLife, iWork and all the other stuff … BUT:
I’ve never seen a piece of technology that bad like iTunes Connect (ITC)! This tool is still a pain in the neck, gosh!

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with ITC, because isn’t working as a developer and therefore isn’t in struggle with it, I’ll give a short description of what it is:
First it’s just a website, accessible  for registered iPhone developers. Within ITC a developer can look at his daily or monthly earnings and he can manage his application. Every app in the App Store has to be submitted with all informations and files within this special part of ITC.

And every time one has to submit an app or an update it has to bee via ITC. That means in practice the same as wasting precious time. Because ITC is either slow or not reacting at all! At the moment I’m trying to resubmit the rejected Super Trumps game with steam engines after it has been rejected because of a bug with an AdMob advertisement. No chance! One might think that at the moment it is a good time for using ITC, because at a time of 2-3 pm CET the US is still sleeping and there won’t be overmuch users in there. It’s also not a problem of a slow internet connection, I’m surfing at 32 MBit/sec! Simple changes are working, but when uploading a binary, a couple of screenshots or when adding a new language within localization the problems are big ones.

At times ITC is reacting, even if it’s slow. Then I am trying to resubmit the binary of our app again. Everything works slow, but fine. I then click on “Save changes” to finish the procedure … and then nothing happens for minutes until the browser is beefing about the impossibility to reach the web page. After that ITC isn’t reacting for minimum 30 minutes. I found out that it helps to change the browser! So I permanently  switch between Apple’s Safari and Firefox. Generally: I am struck that ITC is working a little bit faster within Firefox but that is just subjective.

So, listen beloved Apple: Please, I beg you, give us developers with constantly pressure of time a new tool to manage our apps for the App Store, I’m begging you on my knees! If it isn’t possible to do so with a simple website why you won’t develop a tool within Xcode? So a developer could manage his apps within the tool where he’s also developing the stuff: Make a distribution build, make screenshots, upload the binary, submit the necessary app description, keywords and all the other stuff. I can’t believe that this would be a huge problem for a creative company.
At the moment only praying will help …

Also Super Trumps Actors rejected!

angrykidNo luck this week! Last night Apple rejected our other new Super Trumps game with famous Hollywood actors. Again because of inappropriate keywords! We’ve just been using a few keywords to promote/connect our other apps, that’s all but apparently enough to reject the app.

Why is there again that fishy smell? Just test what kind of keywords other companies have been using … just try “hot sex” within the App Store search and you’ll get as a search result among others apps with “rock legends”, a pregnancy quizz and an app to find cool bars. Or try “hot game” – according to apple again an inappropriate keyword.
Is it just bad luck that of all things our apps have been rejected? Is Apple now looking at the keywords even more accurately? Is it left to chance?

We’ll remove the inappropriate keywords to restart the review process again … another minimum of 10 days to wait …

Super Trumps Steam Engines rejected

screenshot_v2-0_en_01About 20 days ago we’ve send our new Super Trumps game with ancient steam engines to Apple for review process. Contrary to our other Super Trumps games we want to publish the steam engines for free with an AdMob advertisement. So “sparing” customers can test our game for free … and hopefully they’ll buy other Super Trumps because of the fun the gameplay offers.

Tonight the app has been rejected by Apple because of a bug with the new firmware 3.1. We’re working on that.

Two things are special with this rejection:
First of all the rejection mail came in German language! So far every correspondence from Apple has been in English. What does that mean? That Apple is now translating their correspondence for foreign developers … or that they have German native speakers within the App Review Team?
Second besides the bug another rejection reason have been the entered keywords. We have been using the new keywords also for “cross marketing” issues by using also titles of our other apps. That isn’t allowed – according to the mail by Apple:

manage-your-content-iconAußerdem kann die Anwendung wegen sachfremden Keywords im iTunes Connect-Profil derzeit nicht in den App Store eingestellt werden. Wir veröffentlichen keine Anwendungen, die sachfremde Keywords für ihre Suchkriterien verwenden. Keywords müssen sich auf den Inhalt der Anwendung beziehen. Es wäre angebracht, die Keywords Top, peer, hot, bible, guns zu entfernen.

Wir bitten Sie darum, die sachfremden Keywords in iTunes Connect zu entfernen und Ihre Binary erneut zur Überprüfung einzureichen.

Hinweis: Keywords müssen auf Ihre Anwendung bezogen sein und dürfen keine anstößigen Begriffe enthalten. Es ist nicht angemessen, auf andere Anwendungen hinzuweisen. Keywords können einzelne Worte oder Ausdrücke sein. Bitte beachten Sie, dass das Keyword-Feld auf 100 Zeichen beschränkt ist. Alle Keywords müssen durch Kommas voneinander getrennt sein, um nicht als ein einziges Keyword erkannt zu werden.

The German hint means that only relevant keywords are allowed to use. They have to be relevant for the respective app and must not contain offensive words. For example: We’ve been using the keyword “hot” in terms of “hot game” – Apple is regarding that as a kind of keyword spam.

It’s never getting boring with Apple at your side 😉