This year, iTunes Connect has taken its annual winter leave from December 22 to December 29. We here take a look at the things that app developers won’t be able to do during this store shutdown.
It’s the Christmas week, and iTunes Connect is on its annual holiday. This year, Apple’s App Store is shut down from the 22nd to the 29th of December. While this does not essentially affect the day-to-day operations of mobile app companies, there are certain things that cannot be done during this ‘iTunes on holiday’ period. To drive away all probable developer confusions, we will highlight some of these activities which are now out-of-bounds:
- Accessing the iTunes Connect portal – App developers can carry on with their in-house development work, but they won’t be able to access the iTunes Connect portal till the 30th. Try typing https://itunesconnect.apple.com/ in the address bar of your browser window, and you will be greeted with a message indicating the temporary ‘unavailability’ of the portal.
- Revamping the app UI – Already submitted your app to the iTunes store and have suddenly realized that the overall app design could have been better? Well, too bad – for you can do nothing about it till iTunes Connect reopens. In the interim, graphic designers can chalk up the revamped design schemes for the concerned app, so that they can be applied immediately after the holiday period. There remains the risk of missing out on a fair number of downloads though during the festive week.
- New app submissions – Christmas is the biggest day for app downloads, by a long distance. In comparison to any other day during the first half of December, downloads spike by more than 90% on Christmas day and the next couple of days. This, in turn, explains why iPhone app development companies rush to submit their new apps before the iTunes Connect shutdown. If you have been smart enough, you must have submitted your application(s) by the 18th (latest). If you have not, you need to wait till the 30th. No new apps are going to appear on the Apple App Store during the holidays.
- Publishing app updates – Most mobile app developers are in favor of releasing upgraded versions of their apps a couple of weeks before the Christmas shutdown date. The reason is simple enough – no app updates can happen when iTunes is not available for developers. In case you have not tested the new version of an app properly before the shutdown, it would be prudent to wait till the 30th, and then submit it. Changes in any app are not showcased during the Christmas shutdown of the App Store.
- Altering the app prices – Many new developers make the folly of scheduling price changes (through interval pricing) during the iTunes Connect shutdown period. Not only are such proposed price changes not displayed to buyers, but there is every chance that the app itself will become unavailable for purchasing. Instead, use this period to frame the best possible monetization strategy for your app, so that it can be implemented as soon as the Apple Store reopens.
- Testing already published apps – Arguably, the thing that developers dread the most during the Christmas holidays of iTunes. In case an app has been approved and showcased at the store, and a bug/virus/malware is discovered in it anytime between the 22nd and the 29th of December this year – download figures will go down, there will be a negative buzz about your new iPhone application, and your company goodwill will also take a hit. You cannot do any additional testing for bug-detection during this period. It is of utmost importance for developers to be not in a rush, and perform the mobile app testing procedures properly, before the shutdown. If a buggy app gets ‘locked’ when iTunes is closed, that’s a nightmare for any developer. (Note: Testing for apps in pre-release stage can go on during this time).
- Including in-app purchases – Developers who wish to include in-app purchase options in their applications should have done it before the 22nd. Those who did not will have to wait till iTunes Connect is up again on the 30th. No new in-app purchase plans can be submitted in the meantime. iOS developers who specialize in freemium apps for kids need to particularly keep this factor in mind. Default in-app purchases continue over the Christmas holidays (of course, only if your app had such options to start off with).
- Scheduling the release of new apps – In order to take advantage of the busiest ‘app downloading week’ of the year, many iOS developers schedule their apps to go live on (or a couple of days before) Christmas. Sadly, this strategy is misplaced, since no scheduled apps are displayed at the App Store until the holiday week is over. This year, Apple had advised developers to schedule their apps for release by the 18th of December (latest), if they wanted their apps to be available for download during the festive period.
- Altering the mobile app marketing strategy – Cannot be done, as simple as that. If a developer wishes to ramp up the marketing/promotional strategies for his/her app, (s)he has to wait till December 30. Once again, this emphasizes the importance of meticulous planning before the release of any app just before the store shutdown. Apps that have been hurriedly launched with half-baked marketing plans have poor visibility during this busy season, as a result of which their download figures remain low.
- No new apps for buyers – And what does the iTunes Connect shutdown mean for the general public? They won’t get to see any new iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch/Mac apps from the 22nd to the 29th of December. No changes in app prices will be displayed either. However, given the way in which app download figures are increasing every year during the Christmas period, buyers probably do not miss the absence of new apps that much over these few days.
- Launching new live music – Just like mobile apps, iTunes won’t feature any new live music during the annual closure of the store. Apple generally advises music distributors to submit their music a couple of weeks before the shutdown period. In general, there is some delay in the approval of iTunes music files from mid-November, owing to the higher volume of submissions.
- Changing the TestFlight Beta Testing – Although users who have been invited for TestFlight Beta Testing pre-release iOS apps are not affected by the shutdown, it is not possible to make any changes in the Testing during this phase. No alteration can be done in any portion of the TestFlight Beta Testing procedure. There remains a chance of the test results/reports not being entirely accurate as well.
During the iTunes Connect shutdown period, iAd reports cannot be synced. Of more importance for iPhone app developers is the fact that, the daily and weekly reports become either unavailable or heavily delayed. In essence, any activity that requires the Vendor ID of a developer cannot be performed during this span. Wait till the 30th – and things will become normal once again.
By the way, Happy Boxing Day, everyone!