What I want from an App Store (as a developer)

This post is more than 2 years old.

Here is a list of things I want from an App Store as a developer - in a perfect world. These are not in any particular order.

  1. A link to the application. You won't believe how many app stores don't do this. I want a quick way to see how the public views my application. In the screen shot below, none of these links will take you to my application. I have no idea how the public sees my application unless I bookmark them on the public site.
  1. Better view of recent data. For example, Google provides you with the total number of comments (see above) but I have no idea if I have new comments unless I remember the count from yesterday. Depending on how proactive I am, I'd love for the App Store to possibly email me on every single comment if I chose to care that much. My apps are relatively low traffic now so I'd definitely turn that on. Errors is a bit better...

But notice how that isn't exposed on the top level page. So I need to click into every application to see if I have new errors this week. Again, depending on how "busy" my application is, I'd love for the market to email me every time something goes wrong.

  1. Good stats. And yes - I know that's pretty vague. But to give you an idea, this is a real good page:

You can't tell by the static screen shot, but the graph is very interactive. Compare that chart to this chart:

I won't say where that chart comes from - but believe it or not - that app store doesn't even tell you how many times your application has been downloaded. You are somehow expected to guess from the line chart how many downloads you had per day (and no, nothing happens when you mouseover the chart). That particular app store can't even tell you the total number of downloads you've had unless you schedule, yes, schedule a report. They email you when the report is done and you then count the number of rows in the CSV file.

I am not kidding.

They simply cannot tell you that your application has been downloaded N times. That is a complete and utter failure for an app store (and is why I haven't bothered to update my application there in months).

  1. Easy to use forms. This is also - very much - vague and in the eye of the beholder. I've recently went through the process of submitting to Amazon and I really liked their forms. Even though it's all on one page, it's broken up into sections so you can attack them one at a time. On the Nook side, they use a nice tabbed interface which is even simpler. In general, the rules for what makes sense for forms in general apply here as well. Even though the audience is certainly more technical then the end user for the app itself, it helps to have a process that works hard to make things easier for you.

  2. Developer relations. Ok, I've been a bit lucky in this regard. Even with the "App Store I will not name" I've been able to hook up directly with engineers when I've had trouble. That may be due to my position in the community. (Wow, that sounds egotistical - but - I do think being an evangelist for Adobe does give me a leg up.) In fact, with Amazon I had one on one communication to help me with all my troubles. But in general, I want an app store that has a public forum with people who respond. Google has a very poor track record with customer service in general. To be fair, I've not had to deal with their support as an app publisher, but I've certainly have experienced their support in other areas and if it's the same, it doesn't bode well.

Basically it boils down to - if you want me to work on your platform - do your best to help me.

  1. adb install. That's it. No developer certificates. Especially no darn certificates that expire. It's my hardware. If I select the option to install what I want, then at that point you should get out of the way. Android is the gold standard here. Once I've said I am ok with installing untrusted applications then I'm good to go. Other manufacturers make developers jump through hoops. I can certainly see the need to protect the public from the big bad Internet, but if I'm trying to add value to your product, why would you go out of the way to make it difficult for me. Apple isn't alone in making this difficult nor are they the worst offender. And as I said above - if you are going to make someone jump through nearly 20 steps - having the process expire in 30 days is a slap in the face. So what - you trust the developer to put something on their hardware for 30 days and then they have to ask again? Why? Sorry to get so worked up here, but mobile development, as we are finding out, is a big job. Getting the app on the darn device should be the easy part.

  2. Going a bit crazy here - but how about SEO tips? If you use Adsense/Analytics, Google can provide feedback about your site and how to improve monetization/traffic. How about doing the same for your application? How about comparative stats in your category? So for example, if I upload a Word game, perhaps you can tell me how my application is performing compared to other word games, or games in general. How about letting me add "markers" to my application history. So for example, showing me where I uploaded new versions. Or allowing me to add ad hoc items like "Started Ad Campain" so I can see if it generated a bump in sales.

What am I missing?

Raymond Camden's Picture

About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Gareth Arch posted on 11/2/2011 at 12:10 AM

Also, forms that don't time out halfway through the process while you're trying to grab screen shots of your app (forgetting all of the information you have input up to that point).

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/2/2011 at 12:13 AM

Good point there.

Comment 3 by Philip Chung posted on 11/2/2011 at 12:37 AM

The biggest thing for me as a dev is not on the dev side per se, but on the consumer side. Success of an app currently comes in one of 2 ways:

1. You are a big name company who is able to get their app on featured pages of app stores.
2. You have enough clout that you can use word of mouth to get your app out there.

Beyond those, you have to be very lucky in order to have an app that earns more than a few dollars. So what I want from an App Store is better DISCOVERABILITY. Right now, your app gets buried so deep that it's impossible to find, and app stores like Android Market don't even allow for multiple levels of categorization (or other means) so I can actually find it. You have to click through pages and pages of apps and 99% of people aren't going to do that.

Maybe this isn't as much of a developer issue, but since I AM a developer AND I am also the one trying to sell the app, I think it's valid.

Comment 4 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/2/2011 at 12:40 AM

@Philip: No, I think it's a very valid point. Thanks.

Comment 5 by Brian Swartzfager posted on 11/2/2011 at 2:44 AM

First off, +1 to Philip's comment: I think we'd all like better exposure for new apps and new developers.

At least Google lets you read the comments in your developer console screen. As far as I can tell, as a Nook developer, the only way you can read user reviews/comments is by viewing your app in the market on your Nook Color. The desktop web version of the Nook Color market doesn't even show reviews, just the star ratings (yet oddly you can write a review). If that really is the case, that's completely ridiculous.

Comment 6 by Mark Drew posted on 11/2/2011 at 2:43 PM

"App Store I will not name"
Wow, why not? it's an app store! When you join Adobe do you have to swear some kind of Anti-Apple oath?

Comment 7 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/2/2011 at 2:49 PM

It's not Apple. I've yet to experience the Apple App Store as a submitter. I do call out Apple for not making it easier to put my apps on the hardware, but the real one I was complaining about was _not_ Apple.

Comment 8 by Mark Drew posted on 11/2/2011 at 2:59 PM

Replace(oathSigningComment, "");

I retract my oath signing comment and substitute it with an empty string.

Comment 9 by Philip Chung posted on 11/3/2011 at 1:20 AM

I put some related thoughts into a blog post here: http://www.philterdesign.co....

Comment 10 by Ben B posted on 11/3/2011 at 5:17 PM

I definitely share @Phillip's frustration regarding the difficulty of finding what you're looking for in the app store. Churn-inspired or not, I'm shocked at how limiting the search interfaces are.