5 Tips on How To Be Featured On The AppStore

Denys Zhadanov
5 min readApr 30, 2015

It’s hard. With more than 1.5 million apps out there, your app should really stand out. But there are ways to increase your chances of being featured. Our apps have been featured literally hundreds of times, so I am happy to share my experience.

A feature by Apple may turn your start-up into a well-known and profitable company, so it does make sense to follow these simple steps. Potentially, tis might give you hundreds of thousands of downloads, press coverage and recognition.

Normally, Apple will reach out saying that you should prepare artwork for the App Store. But don’t be very excited yet, it does not necessarily mean that they are going to feature you as an editor’s choice. By the way, being in the “Best New Apps” is as good as being featured on the main banner.

As you already know, Readdle apps were featured many times. Documents got Editor’s choice, Scanner Pro was picked as App of the Week that gave us 5 million downloads in a week, PDF Expert 5 and Calendars 5 are featured in productivity categories. The following tips might be helpful for your app too.

Productivity Category

1. Create a great app that does one specific thing.
The philosophy behind Apple’s technology is that it is easy to use and “it just works”. The same logic applies to apps they want to feature: it should be simple, easy to use, and it should does one particular thing exceptionally well.

Example: Scanner Pro — great app that turns an iPhone into a portable scanner. So the user can scan anything into a good-looking PDF file with just 2–3 taps. Of course, Scanner Pro gives additional value to iPhone and iPad as it brings more value to the platform. But I hope you’ve got the idea.

2. Invest in design and user experience.
Apple, as an innovative platform, is always looking for a great new ways of interacting with their iPhones and iPads. A good design might help you to get noticed. But you should think of design as not just how it looks, but how the app performs given tasks. We are talking about great user experience.

Clear by RealMacSoftware did a great job by reinventing and innovating touch/swipe UX concept. That was one of the reason why they have been featured by Apple.

3. Get noticed by Apple.

Apple editorial team monitors the market and they are constantly looking for the new gems. So if you are able to make some buzz around your new app — that should definitely help.

The best way to do it is to get some press coverage. It could be done in-house or you could hire a PR guy/ agency. We do it ourselves and I am pretty sure you can do it too.

Our apps were reviewed and mentioned by all these guys.

Readdle’s Press Coverage

Pro tip: you can be smart about it and do some highly targeted Facebook ads in San Francisco and Cupertino to increase the chances of Apple employees seeing your app. By spending just $200–300 you most likely get some “influential” eyeballs.

4. Understand Apple’s editorial calendar.
App Store editorial team has its own calendar of holidays, events and seasons, so they feature the apps accordingly. If it’s September — most likely Apple will push their “Back to School campaign” featuring apps for students (to-dos, writing, PDF readers, note-takers, etc). If there’s an important event going on (say, Olympic games) most likely there will be a special feature on that. So try to think a little bit further ahead to guess what are they going to feature and why. According to that you can adjust your marketing strategy to get noticed in the right time.

This time it was Apple Watch. Next time it’ll be WWDC. The best thing to do is to manage your resources strategically and try to deliver new releases, upgrades on that specific timing. Apple really wants us (developers) to use their latest technology (for example: extensions for iOS 8, hand-offs for Apple Watch, etc).

Tip: usually the review team is picking the apps to feature 2–3 weeks in advance.

5. Localize.
As you may know, there are a few App Store editorial teams worldwide covering US, Europe, Asia, and BRIC + “developing countries” . So if you want a global feature, say Editor’s choice, your app has to be available in various languages. The usual practice for us is to localize into 9 main languages that covers 80% of the market: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Crowdin service worked pretty good for us.

Apple is pushing regional markets and that seems to be working fairly well! The volumes in developing countries have increased dramatically (Russia saw approximately 20x growth of free app downloads over the last two years). So targeting some of those markets might be a good idea, and your app might become a hit there. You never know what’s going to happen (look at Evernote in Japan).

Finally, just create a great app that millions of people will like.
This will most likely grant you a feature by Apple, but at the same time, that’s the hardest thing to do.

I’d love to hear your stories and suggestions. Were your apps featured? Did you know about that they are going to be featured?

P.S. Having a personal connection with someone at Apple might open many doors too. WWDC is a great event to dive into Apple community. You can meet iTunes team, or Apple evangelists who might further introduce you to App Store editorial team.

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Denys Zhadanov

Building something new. Past: Board member and VP of marketing at Readdle (bootstrapped to 200M app downloads). Love technology, neuroscience and productivity.