It wasn’t a complete surprise when Apple released iOS 8.2 with their own Apple Watch app pre-installed. The app, which can’t be deleted from the iPhone regardless if you’re buying a device or not, features product marketing videos and its own store. Yes, Apple Watch will have its own store separate from the traditional App Store. What exactly will that mean for your Apple Watch App Store Optimization strategy?
First off, this isn’t a total surprise. Apple is asking developers to submit app icons and screenshots dedicated to the product in iTunes Connect. I don’t think they’ll show Apple Watch screenshots with the iPhone ones — that would clutter things up and Apple likes simplicity. Those will likely appear exclusively in the Apple Watch App Store.
Also, don’t include the Apple Watch in any of your iPhone screenshots — think product differentiation. In fact, don’t include the Apple Watch in your Apple Watch screenshots either. Go straight for your app screens.
As for the icon, Apple says that it is okay to have a different app icon for Apple Watch than your traditional iPhone app. Apple wants it similar though. The Apple Watch app icon will appear below your original icon to signify that your app’s support. It will also appear in the Apple Watch Store, but not likely to show up on devices. All control of Apple Watch functionality will take place either in your iPhone app or the device settings.
Since you’re using a single binary for Apple Watch and iPhone, you won’t need to update your keywords or title. In fact, Apple is discouraging developers from using the terms “Apple Watch” and “Watch” in those fields. The support of the device should be picked up in search results automatically — i.e. someone searching for food watch app should get all food apps that support Apple Watch.
You will want to update your description though. Apple is known to promote apps who embrace their new technologies. Not only do I believe they weigh them slightly higher in search results, but it improves your odds of being featured. Make sure you highlight Apple Watch support early in your description and some of the benefits lower. This is also important to do in the What’s New copy.
Will you be able to search the Apple Watch Store? That’s not known right now. I would suspect, yes. I believe Apple will keep this store simple — app icon, screenshots, title, company name. They may squeeze description in, but then that’s just recreating the original App Store. This puts pressure on your app icon and screenshots to do the selling in your Apple Watch App Store optimization strategy.
While the Apple Watch needs tethering with the iPhone, Apple wants you to believe its an experience in itself. That’s why the Apple Watch Store stands alone.