App Store Optimization in iOS 14: Find Out How New Features Impact ASO

As iOS 14 is now out, let's see what updates from Apple may have the biggest impact on app performance and how the App Store Optimization strategy should be adjusted.

September 30, 2020

iOS 14 is officially out! The latest major release brought many cool updates and improvements to Apple's famous mobile operating system. Let's see which ones may have the biggest impact on the visibility and conversion rates of your app or game and therefore may require adjustments to your App Store Optimization strategy.

Autocorrect in App Store Search

Editorial collection in iOS 14 App Store

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In iOS 14, Apple introduced the autocorrect feature. So from now on, when the user mistypes a brand name, app title, or general term, they will see the search results for the correct spelling of the intended word or phrase.

Common misspellings are known to have had significant volumes. So optimizing apps for them — e.g. a new podcast platform for the 'Spotfy' keyword — looked like a good idea and could work well in reality. The fact that now searches on the App Store are forced to be much more accurate shuts the door on such brand fishing practice.

Users still have the option to check the results of their exact search by clicking 'Search for that term instead?' when they understand that what Apple thinks they are looking for is wrong. But obviously, search volume for common mistypes will drop sharply making such an ASO trick obsolete. As a result, those app marketers who employed this strategy need to revise their app's keywords.

It is important to note here, however, that automatic correction works in not all countries and languages across the App Store, at least for now, so go ahead and check your target local markets first.

Editorial Collections in Search Results

Editorial collections on the App Store in iOS 14

Image credit: Ilia Kukharev

Continuing to improve discoverability on the App Store, Apple also added editorial collections with download buttons right there in the search results. Horizontally scrollable, these lists of featured apps are prioritized and displayed at the very top, just under an advertisement if there's one. 

After this modification, more apps will appear above the fold. At the same time, users may prefer to scroll horizontally through the collections they see, not vertically to explore the rest of the results and pick apps from there.

So basically, the top app previously shown at the first position in the organic search results now automatically moves to the third position (or even fourth if there's an ad). According to SplitMetrics data, tap-through rates in the App Store search might decrease ninefold when an app falls down from #1 to #4 on the search result page overall.

Consequently, you should realize that the introduction of editorial collections in the App Store search can lead to a substantial decline in organic downloads. However, there is still quite little clarity over how those collections are composed, so let's keep an eye on how it all goes in practice.

App Clips

App Clips in iOS 14

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With iOS 14, Apple launched App Clips, a brand new way of how iOS apps can be discovered. In essence, an App Clip is a small, lightweight (required to be less than 10 megabytes in size), yet completely workable part of an app, which is designed to let users complete a certain specific task in a matter of seconds at the moment they really need it, without having to download the app, sign up additionally, or even search for it. Kind of a functional preview.

Would you like to buy a cup of coffee to go? Pay for parking? Book a table? Rent a bike? Now it is possible to do all that in an instant through App Clips that can be found through scanning a QR code, tapping an NFC tag, or using a special App Clip code designed by Apple for that particular purpose (this functionality is expected later this year), or simply from the Safari browser, Maps, and Messages.

Developers are expected to benefit from this new opportunity as it is a great chance for them to show the user a mini version of their app, demonstrating its value in action. After the engagement through App Clips, users can get the full versions of the corresponding apps if they want so. Craig Federighi, Apple's SVP of Software Engineering, explained in the keynote on WWDC 2020: "It's always easy to download the full app and this makes App Clips an easy way to discover more of what the App Store has to offer."

While it is hard to accurately predict the App Clips' influence on visibility, installs, and positions on the App Store for now, we know that Apple has always done pretty much to promote new features. So the developers who happen to be among the first to successfully implement the App Clip functionality may well expect some kind of enhanced promotion for their apps, in one way or another.

App Page Updates

Product pages on the App Store received several updates that could be considered minor at first sight. But looking deeper, we think you should also pay attention to them, keep them in mind, and double-check that all is well and you've been doing all right here in terms of ASO.

App details

App details information panel in iOS 14 App Store

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Apple reconsidered the information panel displayed under the app icon on product pages. Now, in iOS 14, it contains more details, including the developer name, language, and size. To ensure convenient review of all the information, the panel can be scrolled horizontally.

Privacy practice summary

App privacy cards in iOS 14

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This is not the case yet, but later this year, Apple promises to add a new section to all product pages on the App Store, which will be completely dedicated to privacy information. In these app privacy cards, developers will be requested to report how they handle the data the user provides:

  • what data linked to a device, account, or person may be collected, and
  • what data may be shared with other websites and apps for tracking purposes.

Tracking Permissions

Personal user data sharing permission request in iOS 14

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With the iOS 14 release, Apple introduced measures to improve privacy and transparency over what kind of user data is collected and shared. We've just touched upon this matter talking about privacy cards on the product page. That's not all, however, and now Apple will require developers to receive the explicit permission from users (by means of an in-app pop-up) before apps may start to track and share them (via their device's Identifier for Advertisers, IDFA). Then users will be able to change their decisions on that in Settings at any time.

The bottom line here is, while all these privacy practice changes are definitely good for the user, providing them with a better understanding and control over exactly what each app is doing to what it gets to know about them, user acquisition and monetization will likely suffer from the lack of data.

If users choose to reject tracking, advertisers will not be able to measure campaign performance based on user-level and attribution data, let alone to reach them well via behavioral targeting, retargeting, and other personalized promotions.

Anyway, here's good news for the App Store Optimization: Since advertising is (likely) going to be less personalized and effective, pure ASO becomes even more important. So make sure to not miss out on our guidelines on text metadata optimization, graphics optimization, and extra tips. Actually, app tracking controls will not be required until early 2021, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

Wrapping Up

Apple continues to improve the ways apps and games are discovered and used, and some of the iOS 14 updates may greatly impact the performance of your products. We are here to help you keep up with the most important changes.

Check your ASO strategy and adapt it to new iOS features to make sure you are staying on the right track.