Thursday, 31 January 2013

App size important?

2gb iPhone apps

As of January the 10th 2013 the maximum size of an app in the Apple app store is 2Gb, OTA still stays at 50mb maximum as of October 2012, up from 20mb... on the 20th of january Microsoft followed suit increasing max app size to 50mb and about a year ago Android upped the odds to 4gb! But why is this important?

App size important?

There are various reasons why app size is important:

App multi-platform homogenisation

Homogenisation: if you are a developer and want to develop across the main platforms: iOS+Android or iOS+Android+WP8 then you are going to want to reuse assets. while you can get away with a smaller app on wp8 due to the lack of fragmentation of screen size to date, fragmentation on iOS and Android is about the same despite what some developers with a bias to one platform or the other say (believe me, I have ported more variety of apps to and from more platform than anybody I know in the app business) - so if your iOS app is 50mb, then your android app is likely to be in the 40-60mb size as well, once you have factored in assets for everything from low-def screen and high-def screen phones to tablets of various sizes and resolutions as well...

App size user experience

Most important however is user experience! Yes that 3rd or 4th priority on your list after filling categories, how many apps, gross downloads and gross sales... and the trend towards bigger apps, which is following the trend to bigger storage (iPhone 3G = 4gb, 3GS 8gb, 4+ 16gb) what the apps developers and app store managers are forgetting is that there is a lot competing for this space and moore's law does not appear to be as kind to storage as it is to video and image size alone for example.
Where do you think a user will look to cut space first?
We all have had the dreaded "out of space, please delete..." scenario, and we go to this screen on iOS... what do you think the customer is going to do - ditch images at 2mb and 2 minutes an image = 30mb in half an hour, or just delete a data hogging app? Yep they will delete a data hogging app.

Data hogging apps

So all your app store work invested in getting a major houses apps on board, into a category and promoted can be ruined in one foul swoop as a customer goes in and decimates all the Moshi Monster related apps... and then tells all his/her friends that "can you believe I had half a gb of space..." I most recently had this issue on top of a mountain in the middle of Wales:
When faced with a view like this and no space for pictures - space hungry apps get deleted and never re-installed
with one of the best views bar none and a stretch of 400m descent, with a need to be at the front so as to not be caught behind slower friends on my one big downhill of the year... with no mobile coverage to cloud... yes I hacked the big apps ... an no I NEVER downloaded them again - worse, I now avoid that category of apps all together!

App Store category filling

Do all these apps have the same level of image richness?
What this means is; you could end up with entire categories of apps not being used / downloaded / spread by users just because they are too big. The apps above do not have the same level of image richness yet they are all the same size. A use knows what apps they can live with and live without, and half a gb of apps to keep their kids happy may get binned, unless they are of the "here, have my phone while I contemplate why I had kids before I was ready" variety of human that plague restaurants and bars the world over... I have now deleted all retail apps from my device an avoid the category altogether as the apps were all space hoggers. 

App space usage 

The final issue is app space usage. Autostitch at the top of the list (top image) is clearly storing images both in my images section and within its own allocation of space... this is OKish as its one of my iPhone killer apps but fusion stream at 106b (the key is in the "stream" bit!) is obviously going to go, when Twonky does the same at 20mb (top image and below).
When image rich apps like Warhol come in at 20mb, 50mb is OTT for most apps

App store quality vs quantity

So when you next update app store guidelines and up the max file size... think of the effect on your users: thee is no point having 500,000 apps in the store, when the average size of apps at 20mb vs 50m means the difference between only being able to have 50 apps or 20 apps on your phone before size becomes an issue... yes chaps, once again its time to focus on quality vs quantity in app land! allowing 2gb or 4gb apps means 1 or 2 apps alone can halve the amount of space a user is willing to use for apps, or can even obliterate a whole category(s) from your store in just a few apps...