App Store Optimization 2024: News & App Store Updates

Oriane Inezaby 
Content Marketing Specialist

11 min read

In the ever-changing app store landscape – algorithm changes, tool updates, and new store guidelines – keeping up with the most important changes can be difficult.

To help you stay up to date with the main developments occurring in the ASO community, we’ve created this blog. Each month, we will provide a recap of the most important ASO and app store updates we have taken note of in a succinct and digestible way.


June 2024

ASO updates from WWDC 2024

Deep links for CPPs:

  • Custom Product Pages (CPPs) can now include deep links.
  • Allows customized user flows based on ads, leading to custom onboarding.

Easier featurings:

  • Apple simplifies the process of requesting app features on the App Store.
  • A new form on App Store Connect to request featuring with intuitive fields.
  • Option to link to in-app events in feature requests.

Simplified screenshot and video uploads:

  • Reduced need for multiple device-specific uploads.
  • Only one screenshot of an iPhone and one of an iPad is required.

Apple shared non-ASO updates regarding, Apple Intelligence, its AI initiative, and the new AdAttributionKit. Our Head of ASO, Simon Thillay, summarized key updates and shared additional thoughts in this blog update.

A video covering major announcements is also available AppTweak’s YouTube channel!

Notes from Apple’s 2023 Transparency Report

At the end of May, Apple released its 2023 Transparency Report, detailing App Store usage data as required by its DMA obligations. Key trends from the report include:

  • Download and redownload trends are similar to 2022.
  • Users redownloaded an average of 2.25 apps weekly, compared to 2.3 in 2022.
  • Users downloaded 1.07 new apps weekly, compared to 1.1 in 2022.
  • Weekly visitors increased by 100 million.
  • Total visitors increased by 11.9%, while total downloads rose by 6.9%.
  • Weekly users completing a search rose by 6.8%, but the share of users who searched decreased from 56.8% to 54.2%, raising questions about the activities of non-searching users.
  • 13.12% of apps appeared consistently in the top 10 search results for at least 1,000 queries, down from 14.1% last year, indicating that search results are becoming more top-heavy despite an increase of 87,000 apps year-over-year.

Update to default store listing experiments

Google has updated its default store listing experiments policy, which previously allowed for global icon A/B tests. Now, these tests are unavailable for apps that use more than 1 language for their default listing.

As a result, apps wishing to A/B test their app icon should create Custom Store Listings for their top 5 to 10 countries and run experiments with these localized listings instead, since using CSLs for A/B tests allows to build up to 50 A/B tests simultaneously.

Policy update - Default store listing experimentson Google Play
Policy update – Default store listing experiments

Events and ads appearing in the Search Tab

The Play Store Search Tab now displays event suggestions and ads even before users start typing a search query.

While this isn’t entirely new, it’s still unclear whether this is an A/B test or a permanent UX change.

New UX: Events and ads displaying in the Play Store Search Tab
Events and ads displaying in the Play Store Search Tab

 

May 2024

Algorithm change (May 2nd)

Changes on the App Store

On May 2nd, AppTweak detected an almost global algorithm change  (the US being the only country where AppTweak did not detect an algorithm change).

Algorithm change map on Apple App Store (May 2, 2024)
Algorithm change map – Apple App Store

Changes on Google Play

Several anomalies were also detected on Google Play on May 2nd, with the US being the only country where AppTweak’s anomaly score exceeded the threshold for calling them an algorithm change.

Algorithm change map - Google Play Store (May 2, 2024) AppTweak
Algorithm change map – Google Play Store

Impact of algorithm changes

It is hard to decode the app store algorithms and pinpoint what has changed, but we recommend checking your ranked keywords for any movement.  That being said, some people have reported that repeating keywords in the keyword field might have an impact.

You can monitor algorithm updates with AppTweak and get more insights into sudden keyword ranking movements: App Store Algorithm Change Detector.

Google I/O 2024

A plethora of key announcements were made at I/O, especially focusing on AI and updates to Google Play.

Here are the major updates announced for ASO:

  • Custom Store Listings by keyword:

Google Play Store now allows developers to create customized app store listings tailored to specific search keywords. This enhances the app’s visibility and relevance by presenting different descriptions, images, and promotional text based on user searches.

  • Engage SDK:

Google announced the release of Engage SDK. A new Software Development Kit (SDK) that indexes in-app content and tracks user engagement metrics. Engage SDK could help in providing better app recommendations and improving app discoverability within the Google Play Store, ensuring users find the most relevant apps.

  • App Updates:

Automatic updates for apps can now occur without a Wi-Fi connection, ensuring users stay up-to-date with the latest features and security patches. Additionally, developers can prompt users to update their apps directly through the Google Play Console, facilitating smoother and more consistent app updates.

  • Pricing & Monetization Enhancements:

Google introduced new billing methods to cater to regional preferences, including PIX in Brazil and UPI in India. There will also be automatic price adjustments to account for currency fluctuations and a new payment assistance feature to help users manage their app purchases and subscriptions more effectively.

Watch Simon Thillay’s video for a deep dive into the announcements

Custom Store Listings by search keywords

Google just launched Custom Store Listings by search keywords on the Play Console today, May 15!

You can now target your custom store listings to keywords especially relevant in searches and reach store visitors looking for benefits your app/game provides.

This update to Custom Store Listings will allow you to:

  • Target store visitors searching for key benefits your app/game provide
  • Build an impactful listing with Play Console keywords suggestions
  • Leverage Gemini (Google’s AI) to generate suggested descriptions

How do Google’s CSLs now compare to Apple’s CPPs in iOS Search Results?

  1. CSLs allow you to tailor your store listing to what organic users have searched for, no paid search is required
  2. Marketers can any creative or text metadata to fit user intent (CPPs only allow you to update screenshots, promotional text, and/or app previews)
  3. There are more CSLs (50) on the Play Store than CPPs (35) on iOS.

April 2024

Apple Search Ads available in 8 LATAM countries

Apple Search Ads became available in 8 more LATAM countries including Brazil, one of the largest app markets in the world!  Bid requests were opened on April 10th, while ads started appearing on April 23rd.

ASA Now Available in LATAM Countries

ASA Now Available in 9 LATAM Markets

ASA are now available in the following Latin American markets: Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Paraguay.

Our team worked around the clock to bring these new markets into AppTweak on April 24th, just after Apple’s announcement.

You can now:

  • Fetch the Search Popularity for these countries directly from Apple and get more accurate keyword data such as the keyword volume, volume history, and maximum reach.
  • See Search Ads for Brazil & the Dominican Republic in Live Search Results
  • View the Custom Product Pages (CPPs) created for Brazil and the Dominican Republic in our CPP Explorer.
  • Monitor the Share of Voice (SOV) on your and your competitor’s paid keywords in these countries.

First 3rd party store

The very first 3rd party store has hit iOS: the Alt Store. However, this first does not bode well for Apple challengers, given the many hoops a user needs to go through to get there (as documented here) with the biggest hurdle being that Apple apparently limits users to a maximum of 3 third-party apps on iPhones.

March 2024

Release of Apple’s iOS 17.4

Apple rolled out iOS 17.4 on March 5th. On the ASO front, the main change coming from this OS version is the rollout of changes to comply with the requirements of the EU DMA. What changes?

  • Apps in the European Union can now be distributed on the App Store! Apps going through this process must undergo a “light” review from Apple to be notarised.
  • Apps in the EU can also link out for payments to be processed by another provider than Apple Pay.
  • Apps doing so will be required to move to a new revenue-sharing structure with Apple, giving less % on IAP but having to factor in a Core Technology Fee (CFT) of €0.50 for each unique app download/update. (this CTF was already denounced harshly by multiple companies including Spotify)
  • While the new revenue-sharing structure is also available to apps that will only be distributed on the App Store, Apple announced that developers will have a one-time option to switch back under certain conditions.

Google has officially disclosed its eligibility criteria for getting featured when you have a Promotional Content. Official Criteria are:

 

  1. At least 1.6 million 28DAU daily over the previous 3 months, and a minimum of 1.6 million active installs.
  2. At least 2 million 28DAU daily over the previous month, and a minimum of 2 million active installs.
  3. At least $40,000/month in consumer spending over the previous 3 calendar months, or at least $50,000 in the previous calendar month.
  4. These criteria can all be divided by 2 if- You are in the Google Play Partner program- You are a developer in the Media Experience program- Your title has consistently maintained a top 10 ranking by 28DAU on every day of the previous calendar month, in at least one of the following countries and categories.

Countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Thailand, Türkiye, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

Categories:  Entertainment, Music and Audio, Health and Fitness, Sports, Beauty, Lifestyle, Books and Reference, Food and Drink, Shopping, Travel, Education, Social

February 2024

Web apps no longer supported in the EU

iPhone users in the EU can no longer use web apps. Apple initially allowed websites to be added to iPhones for use as web apps and even improved this feature over time. But with the iOS 17.4 beta, support for Progressive Web Apps (PWA) in the EU has been removed.

These changes don’t seem to be unrelated to the EU’s DMA, as Apple is now required to allow developers to create web browsers with their engine.

Government badges for eligible Play Store apps

Google Play has begun displaying a government-verified badge for apps affiliated with government entities. Rolled out with version 39.7.34, this badge is designed to help users recognize and trust official apps that deliver various government services. The feature is currently available for apps in 12 countries, including India, although the complete list of eligible countries remains unknown.

January 2024

Apple’s response to EU’s DMA

2024 started with one major update related to Apple’s response to the EU’s DMA.

On January 25th, Apple has announced compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the EU by introducing changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store. The company is set to offer new options for app distribution and payment processing on iOS devices.

Apple will now introduce third-party app stores on iOS, but those third-party stores will only be available in EU countries.

Introduction of third-party app stores

Despite opening up its platform, Apple will maintain some control over third-party app stores.

  • Notarization process: this process will ensure that apps distributed via third-party stores are not introducing malware or other unwanted software on a user’s device.
  • App Installation Sheet: Apple introduced this sheet that contains the information developers have submitted to Apple for review (app name, app description, screenshots, system age rating). This sheet will be displayed when a user clicks to download an app from an alternative app store or the web.
  • App Tracking Transparency Framework: Apple’s privacy framework will extend to all apps, from the App Store or third-party platforms.

Payment services

Apple will allow apps to use external payment systems for purchases but will still take a percentage of the revenue, less than if Apple Pay were used. Apple’s commission will either amount to 12 or 27% depending on whether the app was downloaded through the App Store.

New business terms

Among the numerous updates revealed by Apple, some of the most significant pertained to its business terms.

Previously, developers contributed 15% to 30% of their in-app revenue to Apple. Under the EU’s DMA, developers distributing iOS apps through third-party stores face a revised formula.

This formula includes a fixed charge of half a euro for every annual unique app install, reinstall, or update after the first million users, along with a transaction fee ranging from 10% to 17%, replacing the previous 15% or 30% split. Developers choosing to use Apple Payment Services will be charged an extra 3% fee.

Watch this video to learn more about the upcoming changes for apps in the EU 📹


Conclusion

At AppTweak, we will continue to monitor ASO news and trends and report them here. Make sure to check out this monthly blog to stay up to date on the recent developments in the App Store Optimization landscape. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure don’t miss out on the latest updates. See you next month!

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Oriane Ineza
by , Content Marketing Specialist
Oriane is a Content Marketing Specialist at AppTweak, creating content for app marketers. She enjoys exploring the world through books, movies, and food.