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Tag Archives: App Store

An iTunes Connect screenshot management workflow

Ugh – iTunes Connect is really annoying to use when it comes to screenshots. There’re some third party tools out there, but it was still too hands-on for my workflow.

So I wrote a little script that does the stuff I want. I have a Sketch document that exports all the screenshots, and the script updates the iTunes Connect metadata XML appropriately.

In case it’s useful to anyone else:

Usage:

  1. Work on screenshots

  2. Setup:

    alias iTMSTransporter="/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Applications/Application\ Loader.app/Contents/MacOS/itms/bin/iTMSTransporter"

  3. Grab latest ITMS data:

    iTMSTransporter -m lookupMetadata -u [email protected] -p password -vendor_id APPVENDORID -destination YourApp.itmsp

  4. Open up the metadata.xml and remove the fields you don’t want to change – this is probably going to be the currently-live version, and maybe the product info at the bottom.

  5. Export all the screenshots into the itmsp package folder

  6. Run this tool (update_itmsp_screenshots.php YourApp.itmsp)

  7. Check that everything looks okay

  8. Verify

    iTMSTransporter -m verify -u [email protected] -p password -f YourApp.itmsp

  9. Upload

    iTMSTransporter -m upload -u [email protected] -p password -f YourApp.itmsp

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Loopy and Loopy HD, now with Bluetooth pedal/keyboard support, iPhone 5

Loopy HD 1.3 and Loopy 2.4 just hit the App Store.

Loopy hd 1.3 loopy 2.4

The main new stuff is support for Bluetooth pedals like the AirTurn and Cicada (as well as any Bluetooth keyboard). This uses the same system as the MIDI control, so you can do all the same stuff. It’s pretty neat.

Also, iPhone 5 support, which introduces — you guessed it — another row of loops. How could I resist?

There’s also some dramatically improved clock code in there, which offers new behaviour when using the x/÷/+/- clock length controls to give you new options for putting interesting rhythms against each other, and better support for non-4/4 time signatures.

There’s a bunch of other relatively minor improvements in there. Here’s a summary of all that’s new:

  • Added support for Bluetooth pedals like the AirTurn and Cicada, and Bluetooth keyboards
  • Added iPhone 5 support
  • Enhanced support for alternative time signatures
  • Improved clock length manipulation, with more flexible behaviour for “+” and “-” buttons
  • Rearranged Settings screen for easier understanding
  • Added “Cancel pending actions” MIDI action
  • Keep MIDI device connections over multiple sessions
  • Ask for a session name when saving for the first time
  • Assorted bug fixes and optimisations
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Experiences with some app promotion strategies

Buy my thingIn the dim and distant past, while in a moment of neglecting my PhD to work on the very first version of Loopy (which is now currently one of the most popular music apps on the iPad!), I had grand visions of an almost totally passive income, making apps. I love the creative initial product development process and, with naive optimism, I pictured pumping apps out and then sitting back and watching the money roll on in. Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek had me enthusiastically lifestyle-designing and dreaming of all my free moneys.

I bet I’m not the only one, but of course reality struck and we realised that the App Store aint that kind of beast. Like any other product, an app needs to be actively presented to the world on a regular basis, and needs to be nurtured to keep it fresh and relevant.

I say “we” because at this point, my partner Katherine joined me after this particular revelation, and became A Tasty Pixel’s part-time marketing director and PR strategist — it’s taken two of us to keep A Tasty Pixel’s wheels turning smoothly, and we still have a lot to learn.

I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on some of the lessons we’ve learned in the past year, in which we’ve released a relatively successful travel planning and travel assistant app, The Cartographer, a very successful live looping app, Loopy, and its big brother Loopy HD, and tried a bunch of promotion strategies, some successful, some not, and some that haven’t yet run their course. Read More »

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Automatically Track App Sale Referrals

I recently came across an article on Mobile Orchard about connecting click-throughs to app sales, which is a rather ingenious idea using the affiliate program LinkShare to create trackable links. As Apple record and report orders that come via these referral links, you can actually see the number of sales (not just views of the App Store page) that resulted from follows of the link. Plus you get a 5% cut of the sale!

I’m doing some experiments with advertising my live looper app Loopy lately, and want a way to track the success of various approaches. It occurred to me that the totally freeform nature of the LinkShare “signature” field (which you can use to track traffic sources) lends itself to an even more flexible approach than that presented in the Mobile Orchard article.

Here’s a way to use that signature field to report the domain name of any referrer who links either to the app page, or to a download link (like, say, http://loopyapp.com/download).

This way, if, say, TUAW link to your app site, if someone clicks through then clicks the download link on your app site and buys, the resulting order will be reported as coming from TUAW. If someone clicks through from your Facebook page, it’ll come up as coming from Facebook. You can even modify the script further to report more precise details (like the path), if you like.

It assumes you’re using PHP, but the principle’s the same for any other language (BYO code, though ;-)).

Step 1: Sign up to LinkShare

First, if you haven’t already, Sign up to the LinkShare program — Once you’ve created a LinkShare account, join the Apple affiliate program via the “Programs” tab. After 3 days, you’ll get an email welcoming you to the program, and you’ll be good to go.

Step 2: Create a product link

Once you’re admitted to the program, open up the “My Advertisers” sub-tab from the LinkShare Programs tab, and open the “Link Maker Tool”. This lets you search for products, and create a link that will open up your app’s App Store page, and will be associated with your LinkShare account.

Screen Shot 2011 09 13 at 13 17 31

Step 3: Create a download redirection script

Now we’re going to set up a script on your app site which will redirect the visitor to the URL you just created (which in turn, redirects straight to the App Store page). It’ll add a “signature” parameter to the URL, which corresponds to the original referrer, so you can track where orders came from.

Create a file called ‘download.php’ in the root of your app site, with the following content, with your LinkShare URL inserted where indicated:

<?php
// Replace the following URL with the LinkShare URL you created
$linkshare_url = "http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=/yGrgMJzFG0&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fitunes.apple.com%252Fapp%252Floopy%252Fid300257824%253Fmt%253D8%2526uo%253D4%2526partnerId%253D30";
 
session_start();
$referer = $_SESSION['original_referer'];
if ( !$referer ) $referer = $_SERVER["HTTP_REFERER"];
 
if ( $referer ) {
    $signature = preg_replace("@https?://(?:www\.)?([^/]+?)(?:\.com)?/.*@", "$1", $referer);
} else {
    $signature = preg_replace("@^(?:www\.)?(.+?)(?:\.com)[email protected]", "$1", $_SERVER["HTTP_HOST"]);
}
 
$signature = preg_replace("@[^a-zA-Z0-9]@", "", $signature);
 
header("Location: ".$linkshare_url."&u1=".$signature);
?>

This script looks for the original referrer in a session variable (which we’ll set up in the next step), so that the domain of the site that links to your app site is used, not just your app site’s domain. Then it creates a properly-formatted signature parameter (just alphanumeric), appends it to your LinkShare URL, and sends the viewer onwards.

Bonus points: I prefer to get rid of the ‘php’ extension to make the URL a bit cleaner. Pop the following into your .htaccess file to access ‘download.php’ as just ‘download’:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}.php -f
RewriteRule . %{REQUEST_FILENAME}.php [L]
</IfModule>

Step 4: Remember the referrer

Now, on the landing page script for your app site (or the site header), pop this in at the very start:

<?php
session_start();
if ( !$_SESSION["original_referer"] ) $_SESSION["original_referer"] = $_SERVER["HTTP_REFERER"];
?>

This stores the original referrer URL in a session variable, to use when we actually link the viewer through to the App Store.

Step 5: Test it

To make sure everything’s working properly, open download.php again, and replace “header” at the bottom with “echo”, so that instead of redirecting the browser, we just print out the URL where we would be redirecting to.

Open your appsite/download URL, and make sure the URL ends with “&u1=appsite“. That’s for direct visitors. Now, click through to your app site from another site, then click your “download” link. You should now see the name of the original site you linked from as the “u1” parameter at the end of the URL.

Once you’re satisfied that you’re good to go, make sure you replace “echo” with “header” again.

Step 6: Track

Now that you’re ready to track referrals, you can give out your http://yourappsite/download URL as your app’s direct iTunes download link (to reviewers, in your press releases, etc).

You can view a report showing clicks and orders associated with each referrer on the LinkShare page — create an advanced report by clicking the “Advanced Reports” sub-tab, then select your desired date range (I use “Since Last Payment”, and under “Report Type”, select “Signature Activity”. Hit “View Report”, and you’ll see your clicks and sales versus each referrer (“Member ID”, on the report).

Voila! Omnipotence achieved.

Addendum: This technique works for tracking referrers, but if you’re wanting to track the performance of ads (say, with AdMob), you’ll want to use your original LinkShare URL, with a custom “&u1” signature parameter. As ad platforms like AdMob link directly (and don’t, as far as I know, send a referer parameter), this script won’t pick up that it’s from your ad platform.

Addendum 2: LinkShare’s reports don’t distinguish between products, so if you’ve multiple apps, you might want to add a prefix to your signature parameter to tell ’em apart. You could, say, replace that header("Location: ".$linkshare_url."&u1=".$signature); line with something like header("Location: ".$linkshare_url."&u1=myapp".$signature);.

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