WWDC 2024 & iOS 18: ASO updates

WWDC 2024 kicked off on June 10th, and with it, we got an early look into iOS 18, including the developer beta. Ahead of the unveiling of the AdAttribution Kit (scheduled for June 11th), the keynote and beta introduced several changes with implications for App Store Optimization (ASO).

🏠 Homescreen Enhancements:

Apple is finally permitting users more flexibility in customizing their homescreen. This enhancement allows for the free repositioning of icons anywhere on the screen. More intriguingly, it introduces the ability to adjust icon colors, change icon sizes, and apply unique icons for dark mode settings.

Icon Customization:

Users can now customize the size of their app icons. This option allows for the concealment of app names on both the homescreen and in the App Library. It enables icons to occupy up to 18.8% more space on devices such as the iPhone 15 Pro Max, highlighting the increased importance of icon design. With the possibility of app names being hidden, the visual appeal of icons becomes even more crucial. This feature also supports the use of longer app names, enhancing search visibility while maintaining aesthetic integrity.

Multiple Icon Versions:

In iOS 18, users have the flexibility to choose from different icon variations: Any (default), Dark, and Tinted. The ‘Automatic’ setting dynamically switches between Dark and Any based on the system settings. Manually selecting Dark or Light overrides these preferences. It is important to note that these variations are not displayed on the App Store or StoreKit. Icons will consistently appear in their default ‘Any’ version there.

To add these icon variations to your app:

  1. In the Project navigator, select an asset catalog.
  2. In the Asset Catalog, select the icon.
  3. Select View > Inspectors > Attributes from the Xcode menu.
  4. Select Single Size from the iOS pop-up menu.
  5. Then select Any, Dark, or Tinted from the Appearance pop-up menu.

🍎 Updates in the App Store

Beyond the main events of WWDC 2024 and the State of the Platforms, the iOS 18 Beta has revealed some minor updates to the iOS App Store.

Ratings & Reviews

The iOS App Store has recently updated its review system. Now, the focus is on displaying only the “Most Helpful Reviews.” Instead of presenting the distribution of ratings across each star level, the overview section now only shows the average rating and the total number of ratings. However, users interested in more detailed information can still access the breakdown of ratings per star when they delve deeper into the reviews section.

Additionally, users now have the flexibility to sort reviews according to various criteria: Most Helpful, Most Favorable, Most Critical, and Most Recent. This customization allows for a more tailored review experience, helping users make informed decisions based on perspectives that matter most to them.

Furthermore, the Editor’s Notes—comments written by Apple about selected apps—have also been updated. They now feature slightly larger text, improving readability and drawing more attention to these insights from Apple.

Search got an update

The search interface in iOS 18 has undergone subtle yet significant changes across all regions. These enhancements, previously previewed and tested in select geos, now prominently display the developer’s name, the app’s category, and its position, as well as both the average ratings and the total number of ratings. The conditions in the search go as follows:

  1. Prioritization for Returning Users: If a game has an ongoing event, it will be highlighted over the standard screenshots and app preview videos in search results. This ensures that returning users see the most relevant and current content first.
  2. Consistency for New Users: New users will continue to see screenshots or the video prominently displayed in the search results, providing a visual first impression of the app, even if the app or game has an ongoing event.
  3. Simplified Display for Installed Apps: For apps already installed on your device, the search results will simply display the app icon, title, subtitle, and basic information without additional details underneath.

These updates streamline the app discovery process, tailoring content visibility to enhance user experience based on their familiarity and interaction with the app. Interestingly, no ads were visible in the iOS 18 Beta, meaning we don’t know if the look of the ads have changed.

🔍 Summarization

While Apple Intelligence (AI) and partnership with OpenAI took center stage at the keynote, the changes related to App Store Optimization (ASO) were somewhat underwhelming. Nevertheless, Apple Intelligence introduced significant updates to their SDK as outlined in the State of the Platforms presentation. These updates are set to enhance the discoverability of games and apps, including the ability to integrate custom widgets into the action button, lock screen, and a completely redesigned control center. Additionally, the new App Intents feature allows for seamless integration of app functionalities with Spotlight, Siri, and shortcuts, significantly improving visibility and user engagement.


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