Technology Apple selects the best apps of the year: the...

Apple selects the best apps of the year: the big shop with small tiles

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New York at Christmas time, that sometimes has something magical. Skating in Central Park, lights everywhere, plastic piles piled up in the shop windows. Only the snow on this December afternoon does not trickle gently from the sky, as one would expect from kitschy Christmas movies. Instead, the cool northwest wind pushes the flakes almost vertically through the air. Big Apple sinks in the snow for the first time this year.

Good that you do not notice anything from the bad weather in here. Here's a six-story apartment in hip New York's Tribeca district, which this Monday will host an Apple event that has not been in its 43-year history so far. Because it is not presented as usual with much fanfare new devices or other services from Cupertino, instead, the App Store in the center. Apple selected the best apps of the year in the presence of 50 developers from around the world (which are, you can read here).

star editor Christoph Fröhlich (right) in conversation with Apple's global marketing chief Phil Schiller.

starEditor Christoph Fröhlich (right) talking to Apple's global marketing chief Phil Schiller.

"Developers around the world are inspiring us with innovative apps that have the power to influence culture and change our lives, and that's how it is again this year," said Apple marketing director Phil Schiller, who joined the event New York has traveled. "We are pleased to announce such a diverse selection of App Store winners in 2019, demonstrating that great design and creativity come from big and small developers from all over the world."

All you need is an idea

Ben Sandofsky and Sebastian de With, who both founded the studio Lux Optics, show that it is also possible to assert oneself on the market as a small studio with a good idea. With the powerful camera application "Halide", the development studio caused a stir in the photography scene a few years ago. With "Specter Camera", the two now won the coveted prize for the iPhone app of the year.

"Specter is an AI-based app that uses a lot of technology to take long-exposure shots," says co-founder Sebastian de With, "With computer-aided photography, we can now go a long way around the boundaries of physics." So far It took a lot of know-how to capture good long-time exposures with conventional cameras, you had to know how a shutter works and how to set the shutter speed optimally, and all you have to do is press a button. "The interest in photography is growing. The market for such apps has increased tenfold, "says de With.

Sebastiaan de With (right) won the coveted iPhone App of the Year award with "Specter Camera".

Sebastiaan de With (right) won the coveted iPhone App of the Year award with "Specter Camera".

Big shop with small tiles

Also, the App Store has exploded in recent years – from sales, the personal effort, to the role for the Group. The small software store, which launched eleven years ago with just 500 apps, is now a multi-billion-dollar machine that holds millions of jobs worldwide (read more about the history of the App Store here).

How much money Apple earns exactly with apps, the group does not betray. But here and there one chats away details: For example, that the users spent 2018 alone between Christmas and New Year 1.22 billion US dollars for apps and games. A sum that should be topped again in a few weeks.

Total revenue from apps will approach the $ 50 billion mark this year, analyst Neil Cybart estimates. Since Apple retains 30 percent of revenue, the profit share is around 13.5 billion US dollars. With this, Apple alone earns more than McDonald's or Coca-Cola with its thumbnail-sized tiles.

And the end of the flagpole is far from reached: As more and more devices are used, the download numbers are increasing. By 2020, global consumer spending on iOS and Google Play is expected to reach $ 105 billion, analyst App Annie estimates.

This graph shows the relationship between the two app stores (Apple on the left, Google on the right). Although Google's Play Store scores more downloads due to the wider adoption of the Android operating system, Apple's App Store is clearly ahead in terms of sales. This makes the platform more attractive to many developers.

This graph shows the relationship between the two app stores (Apple on the left, Google on the right). Although Google's Play Store scores more downloads due to the wider adoption of the Android operating system, Apple's App Store is clearly ahead in terms of sales. This makes the platform more attractive to many developers.

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Games are a growth engine

The engine of growth is Games on both platforms: "It is expected that global consumer spending on games in 2020 will exceed $ 75 billion," App App's experts write in their annual preview. Mobile games accounted for 77 percent of app revenue last year.

Given these numbers, it is not surprising that Apple has invited the representatives of several game companies to New York. One of them is Eva Gaspar from Barcelona. She is the managing director of Abylight Studios, and has now won the iPad game of the year with the adventure game "Hyper Light Drifter". "Our game is not a typical blockbuster game, it's a very personal experience, so we're delighted that Apple named it Game of the Year, which makes us incredibly proud, hoping it will make the game even better known and more People are excited about gaming. "

The loft in New York's Tribeca district has been the scene of an event Apple has never hosted before.

The loft in New York's Tribeca district has been the scene of an event Apple has never hosted before.

Few big against many little ones

An award from Apple helps such a small studio, of course, in the fight for the attention of users. Because to the truth also belongs: In the App Store survive mainly the thick fish. Data from the analysis company Sensor Tower show that the top one percent of the app manufacturers taps around 80 percent of downloads. In other words, 99 percent of publishers are battling for the remaining 20 percent of the market. With money, it looks even more dramatic: The top percent of companies sacks 93 percent of global revenue, in games, the share is even 95 percent.

So that the small, sympathetic indie titles are not overshadowed by all the blockbuster games with their huge budgets, Apple relies on a global network of editors who emphasize every day recommended apps and games from the crowd. At the same time, however, Apple is mixing in with itself: just a few weeks ago, the company launched its own gaming flat rate with Apple Arcade, which gives access to more than 100 games for only five euros per month. How many users the service has, is not known, but you are very satisfied with the prelude, you hear again and again from Apple circles.

Elaborate games and creative applications are the app trends of the year.

Elaborate games and creative applications are the app trends of the year.

Some critics find the development questionable: By not only distributing applications, but also becoming a competitor, Apple's role in the App Store is also changing. The group itself sees no problem in this. Addressed to the allegation, Apple CEO Tim Cook replied a few weeks ago in the starTalk: "We have 30 to 40 apps – versus more than two million others." Cook compares the App Store to a supermarket: "The likelihood that it owns a private label is very high, and who benefits from having another product on the shelf? The customer, and that's a good thing."

The future of the app …

An important role should also play the exclusivity of the arcade titles. After all, Apple has some of this, when many apps are available only for iPhone, Mac and iPad, but not on Android devices. For the Group, the App Store is no longer just a money printing press, but also an important tool to stand out from the competition. With good, exclusively available applications, Apple wants to keep users in their own ecosystem. "The support of external developers is still of paramount importance to Apple," says analyst Neil Cybart star, "A device like the iPad, for example, is designed so that the hardware disappears and the user can interact with the apps undisturbed, so a thriving app ecosystem also makes the products more valuable."

Cybart sees Apple in this area well positioned. However, he believes that the importance of classic apps for smartphones and tablets will decline in the near future. "The current app paradigm is primarily to download an app on our smartphone, tablet or laptop. Essentially, however, we move away from sourcing data from different apps to a curated and dynamic feed that is constantly changing and tailored to our needs. "In plain English, apps tend to be relatively dull, with many sending the same information to all users In the future, however, they should become smarter.

A first step in this direction is the Siri dial of the Apple Watch, Cybart said: "The Apple Watch was the first device that really began to challenge the current app paradigm Provide quantities of information, data and contexts in the form of maps selected by a digital assistant, which are personalized to the wearer based on the time of day and the schedule. " Competitor Google has been experimenting with this principle for quite some time with his assistant and previously with Google Now.

… takes place in our ears

The most important product of the near future, however, is neither on the wrist nor in the trouser pocket, Cybart believes – but in our ears. "Apple turns the AirPods into the second platform for what comes after the App Store, rather than having to do with pushed snippets of information and data via a digital voice assistant, which is likely to remain ideal for mobile screens AirPods strive to expand our environment by promoting intelligent sound, and Apple's biggest opportunity in apps is to leverage the existing interest and momentum of the App Store to gain a head start when it comes to developing new types of developers from app experiences in the wearables era. "

After almost four hours, the event is over. By now it is dark in New York, the cars are covered by a white snow film. The people scurry hurriedly through the streets, their caps pulled low over their faces. And if you look closely, you see them more often – small, white sticks that protrude from ears. AirPods. It is quite possible that people are watching the early days of the next level of apps – and only listening to music.

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