Featured on the App Store - how to get featured and get users for free

Getting featured is when an app is featured in various app store selections. The application becomes a favorite and gets on the first pages of the store in one or several categories for free. This is the most effective source of organic traffic and a way to increase page views and installs. To get into the App Store Favorites section, an application must be of high quality, understandable to the user, solve a specific problem, and work without failures.

At the end of the article, you can find a 40% discount coupon for the first month of using ASOMobile - a tool for creating ASO and researching competitors in the mobile app market.

The benefits of getting into Favorite Apps are quite obvious:

  • organic traffic
  • target users
  • support from the app store.

Since the release of iOS 11, the App Store has been offering editorial selections on the main page - Today, TOP by game, applications - what we play, editor's choice, etc. These are stories and collections that are updated daily, compiled by App Store moderators, that include new games, apps, collections, and developer stories.

When you launch the App Store, users are taken to the Today page, and, as a result, featuring will bring the maximum number of organic installs for your application. Further collections already require some action from the user (he may or may not view them) and are slightly less desirable from the point of view of application developers, but you should not discount them. The only thing to keep in mind is that the higher the app or game is in the collection, the more effective the featuring will be.

Getting featured on the App Store and ASO app optimization

Since featuring is a source of organic traffic, it, therefore, falls into the field of activity of ASO specialists. After all, optimization has the goal of increasing the visibility of the application and, as a result, increasing installations. There is no universal scheme to get into the collections, but there is a number of methods and tips that have been shaped by the time. We'll talk about tips a little later, but here are the features of the traffic that you can get from featuring that is worth noting right now:

  • tab Today, most general and widest traffic, your app will see the maximum number of users.
  • the Games tab requires the user to be at least interested in this category, therefore, in addition to showing, the likelihood of installation increases. This is where visual elements and creatives come into play.
  • the Apps tab, by analogy with the Games tab, has narrower traffic, but more targeted users.

Factors that are taken into account when featuring

According to the guide provided by Apple, there are general recommendations that must be followed in order for your application to get featured.

  1. App interface design. Ease of use, attractiveness, and intuitive controls are a big part of how your app is felt and are the number one factor in getting featured.
  2. User experience. Ease of use, understandability, and comfort of the user, the logic of building the user's path - all those are taken into account when evaluating your application by moderators.
  3. Innovation. If your app is unique and solves some unusual user problems or uses innovative technologies for interacting with users - all those can attract the attention of moderators when deciding whether to feature.
  4. Uniqueness. Choosing your path, among many similar ones, you have every chance of being selected since it is by standing out that you attract attention.
  5. Availability. Carefully debugged functions and interaction with a wide range of users - this is exactly what accessibility is about when featuring.
  6. Localization. Adaptation to the cultural, linguistic, and social characteristics of different countries is a sign of a well-localized application.
  7. Application page on the App Store. High-quality text optimization, an attractive visual part, reviews, and ratings - all these are the components of the success of an application not only for featuring.

Featuring requirements for mobile games:

  1. Gameplay design
  2. Artistic component and animation
  3. Controls
  4. Story and characters (if any)
  5. Replayability - when they return and play again 
  6. Sound effects and music
  7. Specifications - performance
  8. Total cost

In addition to the opportunity to be chosen randomly (or rather without your initiative),  in the App Store you have the opportunity to apply for featuring, thereby drawing the attention of the editors to your application or game.

In Apple's tips, such initiatives are highly encouraged, and if your application, game, or development team has a unique story, send it to the editors of the store. For a new app or major upgrade, applications should be submitted six to eight weeks in advance of launch.

Despite the fact that the mechanisms of featuring are not transparent, selected games and applications have common features. Analyzing those, we have prepared the main tips for featuring on the App Store. They have a lot in common with Google Play, as you can see by reading our article.

  1. Comparative analysis.

Analyze your app and the closest competitors that were included in editorial selections. It is worth paying attention to the visual elements and you may find some trends and features of icons and screenshots design that helped the application to get featured. Remember, editors' choice is people's choice, and visuals are the shortest route to users.

For quick and convenient analysis, we suggest using the ASOMobile mobile analytics tool. You can now compare apps across 68 countries with the Visual Comparison tool. Be sure to look at your application through the eyes of users, and therefore the eyes of moderators.

Evaluate also the functionality that you have, and what competitors can boast of.

Through this analysis, you can highlight those features that distinguish competitors' apps and try to implement something similar, or even something better.

  1. Apple API and regular updates

Developing an application based on Apple products is an important plus on the way to featuring. After all, in fact, successfully implemented products that can be created with the help of technologies of the same name get into featured. The UX will also be more unified, with Xcode providing out-of-the-box navigation and design solutions.

Apps that get into Favorites from the App Store strictly comply with the requirements and guidelines from Apple - they are quite clear and easy to use. For example, the UI Design Guide for Developers has simple requirements such as:

  • interactivity

A layout is suitable for the screen of the device on which it will be displayed. Users should see the main content without zooming or scrolling horizontally. Controls designed for touch gestures should be easy to use, considering their size and location.

  • Readability.

The text must be at least 11 points in size so that it can be read at a normal viewing distance without zooming. Make sure the text is contrasting and the font is readable. Don't forget about padding and line spacing.

  • Graphic arts

Images must be in high resolution, with the correct aspect ratio to avoid distortion.

  • Clarity

All controls must be laid out according to the logic of the content they control. Alignment and padding should be the same for a coherent and clear picture of the content of the layout.

Regular updates testify to the constant work on bugs and maintaining feedback from users.

A great example where updates happen regularly, without any new features, but create awareness of continuous improvement.

  1. Localization of your application

The wider the geography of your application, the better. Let's think from the App Store side, what's the point in recommending your app to a wide range of users when it is only available in a limited area or localized to a narrow range of users.

Optimizing each localization is the cornerstone of ASO. The need to take into account the peculiarities of the language, culture, and national characteristics.

English, despite the title of an international language, is unlikely to become a panacea for all locales. Remember at least the difference in spelling (the well-known tyres-tires or color-colour), but the difference in spelling is still half the trouble. But if you remember that each country that considers English as its native language will differ in the use of words. An excellent example: bill - an account, generally accepted; bill - police, British slang; bill - banknote, American English.

Let's leave philology aside, we think everything is clear - successful localization is not only a copy-paste of an English text. It is worth mentioning the importance of translating the visual elements of the application page - focus labels especially.

An example of an app visual localization:




  1. Consider seasons and holidays

By releasing updates around holidays like Christmas, Easter, or New Year,  you increase your chances of getting featured. After all, before these holidays, editors make additional lists of selected seasonal applications.

Release updates early. Apple recommends submitting a feature request in advance. Therefore, if you want to be included in the seasonal selection, updates should be released approximately 1 month before the holiday.

  1. Work on UX

User experience is an important part of app usability. Track the way they behave in your app, which screens they go to, where they linger, and at what moments they leave the application. We remind you that in this case, it is very convenient to draw up a user's behavior flow chart.

  1. Make the application as accessible as possible.

According to Apple's guides, there are several accessibility features that need to be integrated into the application (hearing, vision, or color perception problems).

An example from Apple is how app colors are perceived differently when colorblind.

  1. Don't forget about ratings.

Good apps get good ratings - 90% of the apps and games featured in the selections are rated from 4x to 5. And about the importance of ratings and reviews, as well as about the tools that help you with these processes, you can read here. It is important to monitor the proportional ratio of rating growth and reviews. Comments are a more significant factor since they are the ones that bring specificity.

  1. Optimize your experience across devices

Optimize your application so that it is available not only for the iPhone. Apps that have a wide range of devices are more likely to be featured. This is explained in the same way as with localization. A wider range of devices - more users.

An example of available devices for a featured app.

  1. Tell them about your app.

The best way to get more users, reviews, and ratings are to announce yourself through advertising. To promote your application, you can use different platforms: social networks, advertising in search engines and applications, targeting, PR, working with opinion leaders, and other methods. Which one will be the most effective depends on the category and features of the application itself.

Everything is quite simple, the more mentions, the more likely it is to be added to one of the feature collections.

  1. Optimize your app page on the App Store

In our blog, you will find a lot of recommendations, practical cases, and handy tools for ASO page optimization. If very briefly, then:

  • optimize the text part of your application (title, subtitle, keywords)
  • work on visual elements (icon, screenshots, video)

For more information, we recommend that you pay attention to the following selection of articles:

  1. App monetization.

Fun fact, over 65% of the apps and games selected for the Today tab are paid or with in-app purchases. Therefore, choose your application monetization strategy (you can read how to optimize in-app purchases in the App Store here) and you can storm the mobile Olympus.

  1. Prepare promotional materials.

Before applying for getting featured, think about your promotional materials. When your app is being considered for featured, the Apple Review team will ask you to provide promotional materials and CTAs for getting featured. And it would be better to prepare them in advance - create attractive and vibrant visual materials (be sure to peep in the Today tab - a guide and inspiration).

If you are not afraid of a long list of tips, then you are ready for the decisive step - applying.

This is how you let the store know that you want to draw their attention to your application. Let's go through the main sections of the App Store Featured Application.

  1. Developer Information - information about the developer. At a minimum, you must provide data with a name and email, and as a maximum, tell us the features and details about your team. The more people know about you, the more likely you are to get featured.
  2. Inclusion & Diversity. When talking about your team, be sure to include gender, race, and other diversity.
  3. App Details. Start with the reasons why you think your app should be featured. The favorites are often new applications, as well as applications that have prepared a major update, which will fundamentally change the user experience of interacting with it. Also, note the possibilities of your app in the context of children's use or some other features.
  4. Links. Contains links to presentations, press releases, and other promotional materials.
  5. Business Model. Specify the method of distribution and the type of app monetization.
  6. Marketing plans. Tell them about your plans and ways to advertise and promote the application.
  7. Your Story (summary). You have the opportunity to share your story along the way of creating the application - what your team went through during development, what ideas inspired you, and what goals were set. The presentation style can be anything, but you can and should talk about your application here.

You are in the selections - what is the result?

To start with, keep in mind if you receive an email from Apple after applying for getting featured. It contains a request to provide visual materials for your application - this is still a step towards featuring. Receiving such a request from Apple does not guarantee that your application will receive a place in the favorites from the App Store, but it is already being considered. Prepare all materials in advance - this will ensure their quality and save you unnecessary fuss - see tip #12.

Then you get into the collections - without unnecessary notifications and noise, the application is suddenly shown in the Today tab, congratulations. But even here there are small pitfalls - a sharply increased flow of users. Be ready in the technical part too - if your capabilities can withstand such a sharp increase in load.

Since the terms of placement in selected collections are rather vague (to be honest, they simply do not exist), do not be surprised if you suddenly find out about featuring post factum. In order to track and not miss such moments, we suggest you use professional mobile app analytics, namely the Featuring tool from ASOMobile.

The Featuring tool is located in the Market section. You can select a country (by default, all available countries for analytics are chosen), a period, and a category, or you can view all application categories in a selection. You will see not only whether your application was featured but also when and in what position it was displayed.

Featuring is a beautiful opportunity to express yourself - to the store and users. A great source of organic install growth, monetization revenue growth, and more. Getting featured does not equal success, but it certainly increases your chances of achieving it. Remember that featuring will break your app analytics picture a bit and make it difficult to evaluate other promotion methods.

Featured by the App Store is a uniquely positive experience as your app grows.

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