Getting your app featured on the App Store allows you to gain organic growth and more reach. Users can find your app by browsing through the App Store inside one of Apple’s curated lists of apps.
I’ve been developing apps since 2009, and several of my apps got featured over time. It’s essential to know these weren’t only large companies’ apps; even small ones can get featured. Let me share my tips and tricks for getting several apps featured by Apple.
1. Tell Apple about your app
Getting your app featured in the App Store starts by telling Apple about your app. They will only be able to consider your app to be featured if they know your app exists. You can’t expect Apple’s curation team to check out each new app submission proactively, so you’ll need to help them by filling out Apple’s App Promotion Form at appstore.com/promote.
I’ve gotten RocketSim in the list of Essential Apps for Developers by submitting Apple’s promotion form for several significant updates. Of course, it wouldn’t end up on that list if it wasn’t a qualitative app. However, it would also not end up in the list of Essential Apps if I didn’t tell Apple about its existence.
In my experience, even larger well-known apps benefit from filling in this form. I’m currently working at WeTransfer, an app with millions of users. Apple knows about our app due to its scale and reach but only occasionally features it in lists like “Build in the Netherlands.” By filling in Apple’s promotion form, we can get our app featured for other reasons, like major releases containing new App extensions (e.g., Live Activities or Shared With You).
Make sure to keep a copy of your answers to questions like “Tell us about your development team.” to make it easier for you to submit the form more frequently. When describing your app and its features, assume the one receiving your form knows nothing about your app or Apple’s technologies. Even though you submit an app in the financial category doesn’t mean your form gets reviewed by someone with financial knowledge who can correctly value your app’s quality. Express yourself with details and create a clear understanding of your app’s qualities and new features.
2. Think like Apple’s Editorial Team
If you look at the App Store frequently, you’ll notice Apple tries to align its featured lists with events like Black Friday and World Accessibility Day. Significant sports events like the FIFA World Cup also get attention, allowing your app to get featured if relevant. Apple plans ahead their curations for 6 to 8 weeks, so you need to be early with submitting your app. I’ve been using the promotion form to tell Apple about WeTransfer’s great accessibility support and included several demonstration videos to simplify Apple’s curation.
3. Optimize your App Store Presence
Beautiful, well-maintained App Store pages are more likely to get featured. Just like before, you need to think like Apple’s Editorial Team. Would you feature an app with only one screenshot and one supported language over an app with ten screenshots localized in more than five countries?
Apple loves telling its users about beautiful apps, and they will like to promote your app even more if it uses the latest App Store features. You increase chances of your app getting featured by implementing things like:
For the latter, it’s essential to look at your statistics. App Previews can impact your App Store conversion rates, both positively and negatively.
4. Localize your App
Apple is more confident your app brings value to its users if it comes in the native language of the end-users. If your app comes with only an English copy, you’ll be less likely to get featured in countries like France or Spain.
Note that you can localize some things at a time. You can start by localizing your App Store pages, which is already a significant improvement. A second step could be localizing your App Store Screenshots, then localizing your app. You can determine the order yourself based on what’s realistic for your timeline.
5. Get More Ratings
Getting your app featured will be more challenging if your app only has a few ratings. On the flip side, Apple is easier convinced by your app’s value if it notices a high number of 4+ ratings. Positive ratings show that your users love your app and that it will likely be from value to other users.
I wrote an extended tutorial to help you Increase App Ratings using SKStoreReviewController.
6. Be a good App Citizen
If you make your app a good citizen, you’ll ensure it fits nicely in the user’s journey. Ensure you use system components that look similar to Apple’s system apps. Custom UI looks great but risks mismatching what Apple likes to see. Your app’s user experience is essential to Apple, so make sure it’s cohesive, efficient, and adds valuable functionality that’s easy to use.
7. Make your app accessible
You’re more likely to get your app featured if your app provides an excellent experience for a broad range of users. It’s essential for you to include accessibility support and make your app work great with features like Dark Mode, Voice Over, and Dynamic Text.
8. Keep your crashes low
While I don’t have any evidence, a high crash rate will decrease your chances of getting your app featured. A crash leads to unhappy users, bad reviews, and lower retention. These metrics will lead to less growth and make proving your app’s quality more challenging. Both Apple and your users will thank you for fixing those top crashes.
9. Innovate and Implement Latest Features
While it’s not always realistic to implement every new feature announced during WWDC, there are some you can support. Especially during a new major OS release, you’ll have the opportunity to get your app featured in lists like “Apps with Live Activities” or “Explore Great New Widgets.”
I always like to create room for my team to work with Apple’s latest APIs as it’s both refreshing, fun to work with, and likely to lead to the innovation Apple loves to see. Consider setting up a WWDC hackathon as a team-building activity: win-win!
10. Make your app unique
Last but not least: try to make your app unique. This might not be possible for every app, but it’s essential to think about your app as a whole. If you’re building another Mail app, it will take a lot of work to stand out. What can you do to make your Mail app unique? What are features your competitors don’t have?
Apps that stand out, define a new genre, or take a fresh approach to a familiar topic will more likely to be picked up by Apple’s editorial team.
Getting your app featured might be challenging, but it will be realistic if you focus on the right things. By improving the overall quality of your app, you’ll be able to stand out. Ensure you frequently fill in Apple’s promotion form and tell them about your app’s great new features.
If you like to improve your Xcode knowledge, even more, check out the Xcode category page. Feel free to contact me or tweet me on Twitter if you have any additional tips or feedback.