I think it’s pretty much every indie app developers dream to be featured on the App Store, and with the right planning (and a great app) this goal is very much within reach of anyone if they really want it.
I’ve been lucky enough to have every one of the Mac and iOS apps I’ve worked on featured in either the Mac App Store or on the iOS App Store. These include: Clear, Analog Camera, Hatch, Ember, Typed, and RapidWeaver. I'll cover the things that I believe helped get these apps featured by Apple, and if you follow my advice then the chances of your app getting featured is huge.
Before we start, let's get the bad news out of the way first.
If you’re building an app to try and make a quick buck the chances of being featured are pretty much non existent. The good news is that if you’re passionate about building great apps and shipping something you’re truly proud of then the chances of being featured are actually very high.
Customers often assume that the featured apps on the App Store are paid ad placements, and that you can somehow buy your way in. That's not the case. You only need to look at it from Apple’s perspective to realise why. Apple want to feature the apps that show off their platform best, apps that benefit them and their customers. You can offer Apple as much money as you want, but they won't feature your app.
If you’ve been following Apple and building apps for awhile, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, and if you’re new to it all, you better get used to it. Apple puts their own agenda first, followed closely by their customers. Developers come in at third place, they don't do favours for developers, they don't need to.
Wondering why your apps never get featured?
If you build an app that looks great, is useful, and fun then Apple will want to feature it. I’ve had developers tell me that their apps tick these boxes, yet they have never been featured on the App Store. Why is this? It’s usually because Apple have never heard of the app before, the app got released on the App Store and no one on the App Store team knew about it.
And maybe the truth is that your app just simply isn't good enough, or it doesn't have a wide enough appeal. It's important to be honest with yourself, perhaps get an outside opinion from one your peers you can trust.
Thousands of Apps get submitted to the App Store every week so there’s no way the App Store team can keep tabs on everything being submitted. This is why you need to let them know your plans, give them a heads-up on when you’re going to launch. I know this is easier said than done. I’m guessing you don’t have a contact at Apple, and that’s one of the reasons why you’re reading this post, and maybe I can help you with that…
Don't worry, I can help get you featured
I've put together a 15 page PDF guide outlining the 10 most important things you need to do to get your app featured.
Subscribe to The Business of App Design Newsletter and I'll send you The How to get Featured on the App Store Guide for free, No spam, just useful content and you can unsubscribe in one click if you find it's not for you!