Apple is Smarter than This: iTunes App Store Release Date Madness

An iPhone user with digital cash in hand hunting for the next killer app to impress his iPhone-less friends, views a category in the iTunes App Store.  He is instantly greeted by twenty apps filling up the better part of the iTunes real estate.  These are the “new releases.”

iTunes App Store Release Date

Or actually, they aren’t.

“Sort by Release Date” is the default view and because it is the first and biggest part of what a consumer sees, developers of iPhone apps often see an amazing doubling of sales while their app is on that front page.

There are two factors for getting one’s application in the empyrean “Sort by Release Date” area. 

  1. Apple’s approval date (for new apps and updates)
  2. Release Date set by the developer

The earlier of the two determines placement.  This means a developer HAS to be quick. 

When an app is approved (whether new or an update), Apple sends the developer an email saying so.  But the app isn’t automatically added to the newest releases list.  The developer must log in to iTunes Connect (the backend for iPhone developers to upload their wares to Apple) and manually set the date to that day’s date.  THEN (maybe) within a few hours, the app may appear in the new releases list.

You might ask, “Why not simply set the developer date to 2099?” 

Easy.  Setting the Release Date to some time in the future, removes the app from the App Store. You don’t want to do this.

A developer could set the Availability Date to today’s date every morning while an app is waiting for approval.  This way, the app won’t be pulled (as long as it is past midnight in California) and as soon as it is approved, it will appear in the Release Date list.

But this may not be good either.  Some people have reported that doing this delays approval–moves the app to the bottom of the queue.  I haven’t tested this systematically.  I have tried this technique, but due to innate laziness… Well, I haven’t been systematic.  I’ll try to do this with a particular app everyday just to see if it does take longer than other apps.  Will update.

Here is all Apple has to say on the subject (that I know of):

Does the “Released” date displayed for my application in the App Store have an effect on my application?
 The “Released” date is listed as part of basic app information displayed on the App Store.  The “Released” date is currently determined by the date of the app’s approval by Apple and the availability date that the developer has listed within iTunes Connect, whichever is earlier.

Other things to consider:

  1. The release date is in alphabetical order
  2. Names starting with numbers are positioned by the first letter (numbers don’t help ranking) — Although, interestingly, numbers do appear at top if sorted by “Name.”
  3. Changing the release date past the date approved by Apple doesn’t help.  But having it before the approval date means your app will appear in the list for that date (many pages deep).
  4. At least for me, notifications of approved apps tend to come in the late afternoon (I guess still morning or early afternoon California time).  This makes me feel like I lost a half day of exposure.  Maybe not, but it feels that way. 

Why did Apple do it this way?  It seems to me there ought to be a “Live / not Live” option for developers and the Release Date should be set automatically according to when it was actually released. 

Also listing by alphabetical order creates an incentive for strange naming patterns.  If I rename “Japanese Phrases & Lessons” to  “A1 Japanese Phrases & Lessons” I will be at the top of that day’s list.  Why can’t it be displayed in order of approval?  Or perhaps randomly?  That way everyone gets an even chance.

Anyone have anything else to add?

Redeeming iPhone App Promo Codes in iTunes

This may seem overtly obvious to 99.9999% of you out there, but a friend of mine who received a promotional code to try out our iPhone / iTouch app asked me how to use the coupon.  I had no idea.

After looking EVERYWHERE on the app page for a coupon code textbox, I went a-googlin’.

“use coupon iphone app”  Nothing…

“use promotional code itunes”  Nothing…

“redeem itunes code”  Bingo!

Apparently, the magic word is ‘redeem.’   You can redeem a code at the iTunes Store by following these instructions:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Click iTunes Store in the pane on the left-hand side of the window.
  3. Click the Redeem link in the QUICK LINKS box on the right-hand side of page.
  4. Enter your code.
  5. Click the Redeem button.

I really hope this saves someone the thirty minutes of Googlin’ it took me to figure it out.

Speaking of which, if you have a blog and would like to review our app, please email me (clay AT the Japan Shop dot c.o.m.). I don’t have many free codes left, but I’d love to get more exposure. 🙂

The Perfect Home TV PC Media Center Thingy

I’m not sure if the correct terminology is a Media Center TV or a PC Driven Media Player (on your TV) or…, but I would like to basically have all my DVDs and CDs on a harddrive and access them with a remote through a menu on my TV.

My requirements are:

  1. A nice clean GUI
  2. Allows me to rip CDs and DVDs so I don’t have to get up and manually change discs–I’m not talking about illegally downloading movies, but it is silly not to be able to store bought DVDs on one’s own computer.
  3. Access to online content (TV shows, movies, music) to purchase

I’ve seen devices like the Mvix, and it looks very promising, but doesn’t help with #1 and #3 too much.

Basically the two major choices seem to be Windows Media Center (comes with every Vista Premium) or the Apple TV with iTunes.

As I understand it, I will need a third party program to rip DVDs for either choice.  Fine, but it would be nice if iTunes or Windows Media Player would automatically rip DVDs like they do CDs.

My main computer and laptop at home have Vista Premium with Media Center.  I also have an XBOX 360 which can stream content from my main computer to the TV.  I haven’t played with that feature too much, but because I have the components already, I’m leaning in this direction.

But I have a few purchases from iTunes.  Which makes me wonder if I should look into getting a Apple TV.  I pretty much stopped buying video from iTunes after I discovered I can only download content once.  That doesn’t seem very nice to me; especially since they limit the viewing of the content to a few computers.

Has anyone had any experience with either (or both) in regards to storing DVD content on your computer and streaming it to your TV?  How is the user experience and video/audio quality?

Frank Sinatra Sale or… Mistake?

I found a GREAT deal at iTunes. I’m not a big fan of iTunes: it seems buggy at times, it is VERY sluggish, and Apple requires it for the iPhone (I don’t like being limited like that even though I understand why)

But if you are a Sinatra fan (who isn’t?), you can’t pass up this opportunity: 97 great hits for only $9.99! I don’t know if this is a mistake on iTunes’ part or if it is just a great deal, but Amazon has it for almost $30!

The Best of the Columbia Years 1943-1952
Frank Sinatra

Including great songs like: Saturday Night (is the Loneliest Night of the Week); Ol’ Man River; Embraceable You; Someoe to Watch over Me; Nancy; Guess I’ll Hang my Tears out to Dry; and… well, you get the picture.

Beginning Japanese Conversation Podcast #4

I’m adding new podcasts to the TJP beginning conversation series. To see all of them, please go here. Here is #4:


Beginning Japanese Conversational Phrases #4: Food

Reviewed Phrases:

何か食べたいですか。 nanika tabetai desu ka. Would you like something to eat?

はい、何か食べたいです。 hai nanika tabetai desu. Yes, I’d like something to eat.


Here are a few common food names.

ハンバーガー hanba-ga- Hamburger

ピザ piza Pizza

スパゲッティー supagetti Spaghetti

パン pan Bread

カレーライス kare-raisu Curry and Rice

フライドポテト furaido poteto French Fries

お菓子 okashi Snack

ピザが食べたいです。 piza ga tabetai desu. I want to eat pizza.

スパゲッティー が食べたいです。 supagetti- ga tabetai desu. I want to eat spaghetti.

ハンバーガーが食べたいです。 hanba-ga- ga tabetai desu. I want to eat a hamburger.

それじゃまたね! sore ja mata ne – See you again!

それじゃまたね! sore ja mata ne – See you again!

Beginning Japanese Conversation Podcast #3

I’m adding new podcasts to the TJP beginning conversation series. To see all of them, please go here. Here is #3:


Beginning Japanese Conversational Phrases #3: Drinks

Reviewed Phrases:

何か飲みたいです。 nanika nomitai desu. I’d like something to drink.

何か食べたいです。 nanika tabetai desu. I’d like something to eat.

The focus is on the ーたい which adds the meaning of ‘want.’

食べる -> 食べ -> 食べたい

飲む -> 飲み -> 飲みたい

Then add a か ka to make it a question.

何か食べたいですか? nanika tabetai desu ka? Would you like something to eat?

何か飲みたいですか? nanika nomitai desu ka? Would you like something to drink?

Now let’s answer the question for drinks.

何か飲みたいですか? nanika nomitai desu ka? Would you like something to drink?

はい、何か飲みたいです。 hai, nanika nomitai desu. Yes, I would you like something to drink.


Here are a few common drink names.

コーヒー ko-hi- Coffee

牛乳 gyuunyuu milk

コーラ ko-ra Cola

お茶 ocha tea

ビール bi-ru beer

ワイン wain wine

mizu water

ジュース ju-su juice

水が飲みたいです。 mizu ga nomitai desu. I would like to drink water.

お茶が飲みたいです。 ocha ga nomitai desu. I would like to drink tea.

コーヒーが飲みたいです。 ko-hi- ga nomitai desu. I would like to drink coffee.

Next podcast will continue with foods.

それじゃまたね! sore ja mata ne – See you again!