App Store (iOS)

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App Store
App Store Logo.png
IOS App Store.png
Screenshot of the new App Store UI on iPhone 4 running iOS 7.
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release July 9, 2008; 5 years ago (2008-07-09)
Development status Active / 1 million+ apps
60 billion apps downloaded (As of October 2013).[1]
Operating system iOS,
Windows and OS X (iTunes)
Platform iPhone, iPad mini, iPod Touch, iPad, iTunes
Type Digital distribution, software update
License Proprietary freeware
Website www.apple.com/iphone/from-the-app-store/

The App Store is a digital distribution platform for mobile apps on iOS, developed and maintained by Apple Inc. The service allows users to browse and download applications that were developed with Apple's iOS SDK. The apps can be downloaded directly to an iOS device, or onto a personal computer via iTunes (also developed and maintained by Apple Inc.).

Applications in the App Store are targeted at iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads, and may make use of specific attributes of those devices, such as motion sensors for game controls and cameras for online video calling. Apps may be downloaded for free or for a set cost, and they may include in-app monetization through advertising or purchases. Apple takes 30 percent of all revenue generated through apps, and 70 percent goes to the app publisher.[2]

History[edit]

The App Store opened on July 10, 2008, via an update to iTunes. On July 11, the iPhone 3G was launched and came pre-loaded with iOS 2.0.1 with App Store support; new iOS 2.0.1 firmware for iPhone and iPod Touch was also made available via iTunes.[3] As of February 10, 2012, there are at least 1,100,000+ third-party apps officially available on the App Store.[4]

As of January 18, 2011, the App Store had over 9.9 billion downloads, which was announced via the company's "10 Billion App Countdown".[5] At 10:26 am GMT on Saturday, January 22, 2011,[6] the 10 billionth app was downloaded from Apple App Store. As of July 2011, 200 million iOS users downloaded over 15 billion apps from its App Store.[7][8]

The mean revenue per application is estimated to be US$8,700, although data is not publicly available.[9] As of May 2011, Apple approved its 500,000th app and 37 percent of all apps are free with the average price $3.64.[10] The distribution of price follows a power law distribution (the Zipf–Mandelbrot law). Prices can be freely chosen by sellers at multiple of US$1 minus 1 cent (99¢, $1.99, and so on).

After the success of Apple's App Store and the launch of similar services by its competitors, the term "app store" has been adopted to refer to any similar service for mobile devices.[11][12][13][14] However, Apple applied for a U.S. trademark on the term App Store in 2008[15][16] which was tentatively approved in 2011.[17] Later, in June 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who is presiding over Apple's case against Amazon, said she'll "probably" deny Apple's motion that seeks to bar the Web retailer from using the "App Store" name.[18][19][20] Later on July 6, Apple was denied preliminary injunction against Amazon's Appstore by a federal judge.[21]

The term app has become a popular buzzword; in January 2011, app was awarded the honor of being 2010's "Word of the Year" by the American Dialect Society.[22] Apple does not hold a trademark on, or claim exclusive rights to the term app, which has been used as shorthand for "application" since at least the mid-1990s[23] and in product names since at least 2002, for example Google Apps (first introduced in 2006).[24]

On October 20, 2010, Apple announced the Mac App Store which was eventually launched on January 6, 2011. It is similar to the one for iOS devices, only it has applications designed for Mac computers.[25] The Mac App Store is only accessible by using Mac OS X 10.6.6 "Snow Leopard" or later.

The App Store is accessible from the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad via an iOS application by the same name. It is also the only way to directly download native applications onto an iOS device without jailbreaking the device. Web applications can be installed on these devices, bypassing the App Store entirely, but they tend to have inferior functionality. The store is also accessible through iTunes, and then on any operating system for which iTunes is provided (OS X and Windows).[26]

In February 2011, Apple announced its new subscription-based service, which will allow publishers the freedom to set the length and price of subscriptions. Previously, new magazine or news releases were sold on a per release basis. The new service allows publishers to sell content directly through their apps, allowing users to receive new content over specified periods of time. Furthermore, Apple will begin allowing publishers to not only distribute and/or sell their applications from iTunes, where revenues will continue to be shared (70 percent for the publisher, 30 percent for Apple), but also allow them to distribute their subscriptions directly from their websites, where no revenue will be shared with Apple.[27]

During Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developer's Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the App Store boasts 400 million accounts with registered credit cards, 650,000 available apps to download as well as "An astounding 30 billion apps" downloaded from the app store.[28]

Following the launch of the iPhone 5, Apple updated the UI of the App Store, as well as the iTunes Store and iBookstore, in iOS 6.[29] This was the first major overhaul since the App Store launch in 2008.

On January 7, 2013, Apple announced that there have been over 40 billion apps downloaded from their iOS App Store, with almost half of those downloads coming in 2012.[30]

On February 1, 2013, Apple informed developers that they could begin using appstore.com for links to their apps.[31]

In September 2013, Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference the addition of a Kids category to the App Store alongside the launch of iOS 7. The category is broken down by age range and apps aimed at the under-13 set are required to follow the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requirements.[32]

iOS SDK[edit]

App Store running on iPad version of iOS 7.
App Store running on iPod Touch version of iOS 7.

The Software Development Kit for iPhone OS was announced at the iPhone Software Roadmap event on March 6, 2008. The SDK allows developers running Mac OS X 10.5.4 or higher on an Intel Mac to create applications using Xcode that will natively run on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. A beta version was released after the event and a final version was released in July 2008 alongside the iPhone 3G.[33] As of March 2014, the latest iOS SDK is for iOS 7.0.[34]

This major Roadmap event (coupled with a large distribution program for 3rd-party developers), later became known as the iPhone Developer Program, which currently offers two distribution tracks for 3rd-party developers: Standard, and Enterprise.[35]

Applications distributed through the standard program can be sold exclusively through the iTunes Store on Mac and Windows, or on the App Store on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.[35] Developers who publish their applications on the App Store will receive 70 percent of sales revenue, and will not have to pay any distribution costs for the application. However, an annual fee is required to use the iPhone SDK and upload applications to the store.[33]

Applications developed through the enterprise program, officially the "iOS Developer Enterprise Program" (iDEP), are exclusively for institutional use and do not get published on the App Store. This allows corporations, non-profits and government agencies to develop proprietary "in-house" applications not for public release.[35] The enterprise program was updated September 14, 2010, to allow any organization with a DUNS number to join. Prior to this date, only organizations with 500 or more employees could join the enterprise program.

To run an application on the iPhone, the application must be signed. This signed certificate is only granted by Apple after the developer has first developed the software through either the US$99/year Standard package or the US$299/year Enterprise package with the iOS SDK.[33]

Number of launched applications[edit]

On July 10, 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told USA Today that the App Store contained 500 third-party applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, and of these 25 percent were free.[36] These third party applications range from business to game applications, entertainment to educational applications, and many more applications available for free or for sale. On July 11, 2008 the store opened, allowing users to buy applications and transfer them to an iPhone or iPod Touch with the iPhone 2.0 software update, which became available through iTunes on the same day. Ten million applications were downloaded the first weekend.[37]

On January 16, 2009, Apple announced on its website that 500 million applications had been downloaded.[38] The billionth application was downloaded on April 23, 2009.[39] In March 2012, the number of apps downloaded reached 25 billion.[40]

Unlike the apps that come standard on the iPhone, apps downloaded from the App Store can be removed by the user at a future date.

Chart showing App Store downloads and available apps over time.
App Store application availability has increased in line with downloads over time.
Date Available apps Downloads to date Average downloads per app
July 11, 2008[41] 500 0 0
July 14, 2008[37] 800 10,000,000 12,500
September 9, 2008[42] 3,000 100,000,000 18,334
October 22, 2008[43] 7,500 200,000,000 26,667
January 16, 2009[38] 15,000 500,000,000 33,334
March 17, 2009[44] 25,000 800,000,000 32,000
April 4, 2009[39] 35,000 1,000,000,000 28,571
June 8, 2009[45] 50,000 1,000,000,000+ ~20,000
July 11, 2009[citation needed] 55,000 1,000,000,000+ ~18,182
July 14, 2009[46] 65,000 1,500,000,000 23,077
September 9, 2009 75,000 1,800,000,000 24,000
September 28, 2009[47][48] 85,000 2,000,000,000 23,529
November 4, 2009[49][50] 100,000 2,000,000,000+ ~20,000
January 5, 2010[51][52] 120,000 3,000,000,000+ ~25,000
March 20, 2010[53] 150,000+ 3,000,000,000+ ~20,000
April 8, 2010[54] 185,000+ 4,000,000,000+ ~21,622
April 29, 2010[55] 200,000+ 4,500,000,000+ ~22,500
June 7, 2010[56] 225,000+ 5,000,000,000+ ~22,222
September 1, 2010[57] 250,000+ 6,500,000,000+ ~26,000
October 20, 2010 300,000+[58] 7,000,000,000[59] ~23,334
Jan 22, 2011[60] 350,000+ 10,000,000,000+ ~28,571
June 6, 2011[4] 425,000+ 14,000,000,000+ ~32,941
July 7, 2011[7] 425,000+ 15,000,000,000+ ~35,294
October 4, 2011[61] 500,000+ 18,000,000,000+ ~36,000
February 28, 2012 500,000+ 24,000,000,000+ ~40,000
March 3, 2012[62] 500,000+ 25,000,000,000+ ~50,000
March 5, 2012[63] 550,000+ 25,000,000,000+ ~45,455
March 7, 2012[citation needed] 585,000+ 25,000,000,000+ ~42,735
June 11, 2012[64] 650,000+ 30,000,000,000+ ~46,154
September 12, 2012[65] 700,000+[65] 35,000,000,000+[66] ~50,000
January 7, 2013[67] 775,000+[67] 40,000,000,000+[67] ~51,613
January 28, 2013[68] 800,000+[68] 40,000,000,000+[67] 50,000
April 23, 2013 825,000+ 45,000,000,000+ 50,000
May 16, 2013 850,000+ 50,000,000,000+[69] 50,000
June 10, 2013 900,000+ 50,000,000,000+ 50,000
October 22, 2013 1,000,000+[1] 60,000,000,000+[1] 50,000

iPad applications[edit]

The iPad launched in April 2010 with over 3000 applications designed for it. By December 2010, just eight months after the release of the iPad, over 50,000 apps were available for the device.

As of July 2011, 16 months after the iPad launched, there were over 100,000 apps available at the App Store designed specifically for the device.[70]

On July 7, 2011, Apple announced that over 15 billion apps had been downloaded from the iOS app store.[7] But, micro level information on the number of downloads of each ranked application has not been made available. To help app producers with their marketing effort and help researchers in better understanding the Apple's iOS app store, a recent research study[71] has tried to estimate the model that converts the app rank to daily downloads. Researchers Garg and Telang from Carnegie Mellon University found that the app downloads follow a Pareto distribution and can be estimated using the equations:

iPad_app_downloads = 9,525 * paid_app_rank−0.903
iPhone_app_downloads = 52,511 * paid_app_rank−0.944

This claim has not been verified by Apple or any other market research organization.

By the end of November 2011, Apple advertised in holiday newsletter of online Apple Store there are more than 140,000 iPad apps available.

As of January 7, 2013, there are more than 300,000 native iPad apps available for users.[67]

As of October 22, 2013, there are more than 475,000 native iPad apps available for users.

Most popular apps[edit]

In April 2009, Apple announced the apps which had the most number of downloads since the store was launched. Among paid apps, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, by Activision Publishing, was ranked first, while Facebook enjoyed the same position among free apps, followed by Google Earth.[72]

The top 25 most popular Paid and Free apps across all categories are listed below:[73][74]

Rank Paid apps Free apps
1 Angry Birds QR & Barcode Scanner
2 Doodle Jump Skype
3 Fruit Ninja eBay
4 Angry Birds Seasons Google Earth
5 Cut the Rope Google Search
6 TuneIn Radio Pro Twitter
7 Monopoly Paper Toss
8 Angry Birds Rio Bump
9 FatBooth BBC News
10 Flight Control Shazam
11 SCRABBLE Talking Tom
12 Tiny Wings Pac-Man Lite
13 The Sims 3 Sky Sports Live Football Score Centre
14 Where's Wally? In Hollywood Angry Birds Lite
15 Sleep Cycle alarm clock Amazon Mobile
16 Moto X Mayhem Waterslide Extreme
17 Color Splash Touch Hockey:FS5 (free)
18 Camera+ Sky News
19 Flick Kick Football iPint
20 The Moron Test Facebook Messenger
21 Sonic the Hedgehog Met Office Weather application
22 Alarm Clock Pro Movies by Flixster - with Rotten Tomatoes
23 Sleep Talk Recorder Temple Run
24 Pocket God Viber
25 Whatsapp WeChat

Application ratings[edit]

Apple rates applications worldwide based on their content, and determines the age group for which each is appropriate. According to the iPhone OS 3.0 launch event, the iPhone will allow blocking of objectionable apps in the iPhone's settings. The following are the ratings that Apple has detailed:

Rating Description
4+ Contains no objectionable material.
9+ May contain mild or infrequent occurrences of cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and mild or infrequent mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 9.
12+ May contain frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, mild or infrequent mature or suggestive themes, mild or infrequent bad language, and simulated gambling which may not be suitable for children under the age of 12.
17+ May contain frequent and intense realistic violence, unrestricted internet access, frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes; also strong sexual content, nudity, strong language, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17. Whenever an app of this rating is requested for download, a message will appear, verifying if a user is 17 or older, and asking to confirm the purchase for this reason.

App approval process[edit]

Applications are subject to approval by Apple, as outlined in the SDK agreement, for basic reliability testing and other analysis. Applications may still be distributed "ad-hoc" if they are rejected, by the author manually submitting a request to Apple to license the application to individual iPhones, although Apple may withdraw the ability for authors to do this at a later date.

As of 2013, Apple employed mostly static analysis for their app review process, which means that dynamic code reassembly techniques could defeat the review process.[75][76]

Enterprise App Stores[edit]

Because Apple's App Store is for consumers, companies are unable to distribute in-house apps on the App Store. Under Apple's iOS Developer Enterprise Program companies can publish in-house apps to "employees" using an Enterprise App Store.[77]

Apple defines "employees" to include employees and contractors of a company or organization. In September 2012, Apple allowed the definition of "employee" to include faculty, staff and students of an educational institution, as well as credentialed physicians, referring physicians and clinicians.

Apps published with Apple's iOS Developer Enterprise Program are still subject to Apple's control via the controversial kill switch,[78] where Apple can revoke a publisher's digital certificate and thereby "kill" the app on user devices. However, there is no evidence that this has been done in the enterprise environment.

Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) have always forbidden developers from publishing the content of their rejection notices, but Apple has now started labeling their rejection letters with an NDA warning THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE. Apple later changed the NDA citing that "it has created too much of a burden on developers" but they did not reverse the decision to forbid publication of rejection notices. Some applications are not available outside the US App Store at the request of the developer. Since so many developers have published rejection emails Apple now most often call submitters to verbally tell them their rejection notice.

In addition, Apple has removed software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) from the App Store after complaints from one of the program's developers, claiming that the App Store's terms of service are incompatible with the GPL.[79][80]

Controversial apps[edit]

On several occasions apps that provide functionality unwanted by Apple have appeared on the App Store. Shortly after their true functionality is publicized they are removed as part of the approval process.

In November 2012, Boyfriend Maker, a dating sim game, was removed due to "reports of references to violent sexual acts and paedophilia"[81] which were inappropriate to Boyfriend Maker's age rating of 4+. A revised version called Boyfriend Maker Plus was approved by Apple in April 2013.[82]

On March 11, 2013, HiddenApps was approved and appeared in the App Store. This App provided access to developer diagnostic menus, allowed for stock Apps to be hidden and enabled an opt-out feature for iAds, Apple's developer driven advertisement system.[83]

In April 2013 Apple removed AppGratis from the iOS App Store for violation of clauses 2.25 and 5.6 in the developer agreement.[84][85]

Implementation in other countries[edit]

Although Apple envisions the App Store to be a global product, in reality its market is restricted to national boundaries. In other words there are potentially as many distinct App Stores as are countries in the world - even within the European Union which has a single common market, each country has its own App Store. Users have accounts that are in effect limited to their own country and restrictions based on national legislation apply to each national App Store. Apps available on, say, the German App Store, may not be available on the French App Store and French App Store users cannot make purchases from the German App Store. Also attempting to use a national App Store from a different country may cause problems: Apple support warns that "one of the risks of creating a German account while you are in Greece is, our system may able to detect it and it may put restrictions on your account (German) that will prevent you from using the iTunes Store".[86]

Similar services for other devices[edit]

Competitors also have their own stores for mobile applications. Palm Inc. published an application store similar to the App Store for Palm devices[87] and announced the App Catalog for webOS on the Palm Pre that was released on June 6, 2009. Another platform, Google Play ( former Android Market ) is used in conjunction with Google's Android operating system. in 2010 Microsoft released Windows Phone Store, an application store for their Windows Phone platform and also in October 2012, the Windows Store for Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets.

Nokia released The "Ovi Store"[88] (which replaced its earlier "Download!" application, which predated Apple's App Store) for its S60 and S40 based mobile devices. Samsung has created Samsung Apps, primarily to cater for its own Bada OS, but also with support for certain other Samsung devices. Research in Motion (RIM) also launched its application store BlackBerry App World.[89]

The Nintendo DSi is able to connect to an online store called the "DSi Shop", along with Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation Vita being able to connect to PlayStation Store to download games, etc. The Nintendo 3DS also has its own application distribution platform, called the Nintendo eShop.

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