Today marks 5 years since the App Store officially opened. I can still remember the long wait for that day to arrive. I was already using a number of jailbreak apps on my iPhone back in those early days, but I knew there was so much more to come once the App Store arrived.
I had very high hopes for the App Store and I’m happy to say it has exceeded all my expectations. Like many people, I use apps for just about everything these days. Calendar, contacts, note taking, research, web browsing, drafting and writing articles, reading – newspapers, magazines and books, task management, social networking, fitness and health tracking, and so much more. It’s hard to think back to times when I didn’t have an app available for just about anything.
There are some great iPad apps and games available for free right now to mark the App Store 5th anniversary. Apple’s own offer of 10 landmark, groundbreaking apps and games for free is still ongoing, and includes titles like Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, and Traktro DJ for iPhone.
Today I’ve noticed a few other notable titles gone free: Mirror’s Edge for iPad, Dead Space for iPad, and Homerun Battle 2.
I’m sure there will be quite a few more apps going free and big sales to mark this anniversary week – it’s a great time to pickup some top notch iPad apps and games at little to no cost.
As part of celebrating 5 years of the App Store Apple is offeringup 10 ‘amazing, groundbreaking’ apps for free for a limited time. As you can see above these include some flagship iOS games like Infinity Blade II and Where’s My Water and some impressive apps like Day One and Over.
This is quite an interesting promotion – since none of these are Apple’s own apps or games. The App Store’s 5th anniversary is Wednesday, July 10 – and on the same page as the apps promotion Apple highlights a timeline of milestones in the store’s history.
The Milestones section is fun to browse through – with lots of crazy, huge numbers, dates when some flagship apps were launched or featured in the App Store, and more. Here are a few of these milestones that caught my eye:
July 14, 2008: 10 Million apps downloaded in the first weekend the App Store is open
September 9, 2008: 100 million downloads reached
January 16, 2009: App downloads top 500 million worldwide
April 4, 2009: And less than 3 months later, App Store downloads top 1 billion.
April3,2010: iPad goes on sale
April 30, 2010: TIME Magazine launches on iPad
June 7, 2010: App Store downloads top 5 billion worldwide. 11,000 apps designed for iPad available.
One of the featured app collections in the App Store this week is titled ‘Father’s Day Gift Guide’. So if you’ve got a dad in your life who’s partial to a great iPad app you may want to give it a look and get some inspiration.
The collection has 8 sections: Gifts for Music Lovers, Gifts for Photographers, Gifts to Get Stuff Done, Gifts for Foodies, Gifts for Casual Gamers, Gifts for Hardcore Gamers, Apps for Kids, and Games for Kids. Each section features 10 apps.
One notable thing about the collection is that it highlights a number of Apple’s own apps – including GarageBand, iPhoto, and Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
There are plenty of good app choices in each of the sections, so this collection should offer some good ideas for all the dads out there who aren’t looking for a new pair of socks or a fancy new drill for Father’s Day.
You can find the Father’s Day Gift Guide app collection right at the top of the App Store featured section, in the rotating set of images for featured collections.
Apple announced yesterday that the App Store hit the much-anticipated 50 billion app downloads milestone:
Apple® today announced that customers have downloaded over 50 billion apps* from the revolutionary App Store℠. Customers are downloading more than 800 apps per second at a rate of over two billion apps per month on the App Store.
In iTunes on the desktop you can see a listing of the Top 25 All-Time Paid Apps and Free Apps, with separate listings for iPad apps and iPhone apps. There are no huge surprises in the iPad Top 25 list, but here’s a few things I find interesting:
— Skype for iPad is the Number 1 All-Time Free App. I think Skype’s iPad app is great, better than its desktop version – but I’m still a little surprised to see it right at the all-time chart.
— 10 of the Top 25 paid are not games, and 6 out of those 10 are Apple apps – Pages, Keynote, Numbers, GarageBand, iMovie, and iPhoto. Another reminder of the huge piles of money Microsoft is leaving on the table by not bringing Office to iOS.
— Facebook is Number 6 on the Top Free list – I’m a little surprised it’s not higher.
— Angry Birds HD and Angry Birds HD Free are the highest listed games in the Paid and Free lists.
Anyone want to start a pool on when downloads hit 100 billion?
Last week Apple made some minor adjustments to the layout of iPad and iOS App Store pages. One of the more notable changes is in the way that age ratings for apps are presented – they’ve been made a little more prominent.
Age rating details are now displayed much higher up on the App Store window for individual apps – just below the app title and developer name. This follows closely on another recent update that made it easier to see which apps offer In-App purchases.
Now both of these bits of information – age rating and the indicator for apps with In-App purchase – are right up in the top section of the app window.
These changes should be good news for many iPad and iOS App Store users, and especially for parents.
This is a question I see come up a lot in iPad and iOS forums: how to change your location for iTunes and the App Store. Luckily, it’s very easy to do – right on the iPad itself. Here’s how:
— Open the Settings app on your iPad.
— Tap on the entry for iTunes & App Stores in the left sidebar – as shown above.
It looks like the iOS 6.1 update has fixed the longstanding problem with the App Store Purchased section not loading. As I posted about recently this issue was affecting numerous users and was a known issue that Apple’s engineering team has been working on.
After the iOS 6.1 update I can once again load the Purchased section in the App Store on my iPad 3 and iPad mini. I can get both tabs of the section to load too – the All tab and ‘Not on This iPad’.
It still takes quite a while to load each page (a minute or more) and sometimes switching between tabs will make the App Store app crash back to the home screen – but most of the time it is working OK for me.
For those of you who were seeing this problem before, what are your results when trying this after the iOS 6.1 update?
Have you had problems getting the App Store Purchased section to load on your iPad? Spent time staring at a screen like the one shown above just saying ‘Loading’ for a long while and then the App Store app crashes back to the home screen? Me too. On both my iPad mini and my iPad 3 for at least several weeks now.
I’ve rebooted the iPads more than once, hard rebooted them, and signed out and back in to my Apple ID account in the App Store. I’ve also searched and noted that there are numerous threads on this issue – here’s just one example: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4313321?start=15&tstart=0.
So today I decided to call Apple Support about it. I’ll offer full details below, but the short story is that Apple’s Engineering team is aware of the issue and is working on a number of reported cases. Mine was ‘escalated’ and added to those cases this morning. The issue appears to be with those of us who have what an Apple senior advisor called an ‘extensive purchase history’ when it comes to iPad and iOS apps. My purchase history shows 1,212 iPad apps and 1,276 iPhone apps – so it looks like I qualify.
The only suggested workaround right now is to open up iTunes on a PC and sync any apps you previously purchased and want to get back onto your iPad or other iDevice.
The infamous ‘Cannot connect to iTunes Store’ errors have been a frequent issue for many iPad and iOS users for months now. I did a post on the Best Fixes for Cannot connect to iTunes store errors back in August – and those fixes have resolved the problem for many users.
Today I’m seeing the error specifically when trying to use Search in the iPad App Store, as are lots of other iOS users. I can still update apps and install new apps without a problem – but as soon as I tap in the search bar I get the error, and of course cannot carry out any searches.
I’ve tried all the fixes listed in my best fixes post and they don’t solve today’s issue – which looks like another issue at Apple’s side. I’ve spoken to Apple support today and they have verified that they can reproduce the issue, that their techs are aware of it, and they’re working on it. There is currently no ETA on when it is expected to be resolved and I couldn’t get any details on what’s causing the issue.
Have any of you seen this problem today with App Store searches? Or seen any fixes for it?
Every Thursday Apple refreshes the content in the Featured area of the iPad App Store. Yesterday’s update included a very nice little change to navigation in the Featured and Categories sections.
In the Featured area, in the New and Noteworthy and Staff Favorites sections, you used to see six picks at a time – and then have to tap on little arrows to move forward or back one page. This was always a little tedious and slow. Now you can just swipe left and right to move through the pages. This is much smoother, faster, and nicer to work with.
The change has also been applied to the What’s Hot and Release Date tabs of the Featured area. And to the Categories sections.
Although it’s only a minor change to the iPad App Store, I think it’s a very welcome one. Navigating through pages of apps is now much faster. That’s got to be good for users and for developers as the smoother experience should help app discovery.
The change also kills of an irritating problem with the old navigation method. When you were several pages deep into a section and you hit the back arrow it would often dump you back on the very first screen, rather than the previous one. This is no longer an issue with swiping through pages.
Had you already noticed this change to iPad App Store navigation? Happy with it?
Just a couple weeks before its widely-criticized new subscription policies were due to take effect in the App Store, Apple has retreated and made the policy much more palatable for publishers like Amazon and many others.
Apple has quietly changed its guidelines on the pricing of In-App Subscriptions on the App Store. There are no longer any requirements that a subscription be the "same price or less than it is offered outside the app". There are no longer any guidelines about price at all. Apple also removed the requirement that external subscriptions must be also offered as an in-app purchase.
This news comes in the same week that we learned that one big publisher – The Financial Times – had opted out of the App Store route and gone with a new web app.
It’s very good to see Apple backing off on this issue. The iPad is an amazing device for a number of reasons, but having great content created for it and published on it is certainly one of them. Driving publishers away with overly aggressive and seemingly excessively greedy policies never seemed a good idea.