Apple’s revamped iOS 11 App Store is already having a significant impact on app discovery, according to new data from Sensor Tower. Apple’s App Store received a major overhaul as part of the launch of iOS 11 in September 2017. The new OS featured several upgrades aimed at enhancing app discovery across the store, specifically when browsing, which is one of the biggest challenges app developers face.
The study found that discovery of apps via browsing, rather than keywords and referrals, has increased consistently in each month following the iOS 11 release. Over 15% of downloads came from browsing following the launch, whereas the proportion of downloads from browsing hovered around 10% prior to the launch.
The App Store's redesign has likely proven successful for discoverability in part because of the new spotlight feature, which highlights a new app and game every day. Previously, the App Store was ruled by the most successful apps, partly because the developers of these apps could afford the costs of promotion. Smaller app makers, on the other hand, some of which made less than $500 a month, couldn’t.
The daily app spotlight feature ensures that a new app and game is promoted daily, which could help increase downloads and awareness of some lesser-known apps when browsing. For instance, apps and games featured on the iOS 11 App Store boasted increased downloads as visibility improved — on average, apps received a 685% download boost when featured in the daily spotlights, while games got an 802% bump, according to Sensor Tower. And 29% of the apps it featured were from publishers that had less than 10,000 downloads since iOS 11 rolled out, highlighting how Apple is giving smaller publishers the chance to flourish with the spotlight feature.
Despite the growth in app discovery via browsing, searching for apps is still the primary way consumers find and download new apps.Sixty-five percent of downloads come from searching for apps by typing keywords. However, the means by which consumers find and download apps differ drastically for apps and games. Searching plays a more significant role in app discovery, accounting for 69% of downloads compared with 56% for game downloads.
Meanwhile, browsing is more important for game discovery, contributing to 24% of downloads compared with just 9% for app downloads. The findings make sense, considering games receive a greater download boost than apps when featured in the daily spotlights.