App Store Enables Developer Promo Codes, Still Has Work To Do (Updated)

Apple’s App Store has finally given developers the ability to release up to 50 promotional codes for their applications, allowing them distribute their apps to press and friends free of charge directly through the App Store.

While the feature may seem like a minor addition to most people, it will be a boon for developers looking to help spread the word about their new applications. Before now, developers looking to share their application with the press or friends would need to include them as part of Apple’s Ad Hoc program, which lets developers test their applications before they are deployed on the App Store. This was inconvenient, as the Ad Hoc program requires the UUID (a unique number tied to each device) of every phone that was participating, which most people don’t know how to find in the first place.

Image from MacRumors

This is a step in the right direction for the app store (as is the introduction of an all-time listing of the most popular apps), but there are a number of features that are still noticeably missing. For one, there’s still no way to effectively try out an app before buying. Many developers have resorted to producing ‘Lite’ version of their apps that lack some functionality, but this is an unrefined solution that just litters the store with multiple copies of nearly identical apps.

Another one of the store’s flaws is the lack of any way for a developer to determine when their application will actually be available. It’s become an accepted fact that applications will lie in App Store purgatory for a few days (or more) before they get approved. But instead of giving developers a day’s notice before these applications go live, Apple simply posts the app whenever it gets around to it. Without the ability to defer the launch to a specified time, developers are unable to set embargo times and pre-brief press.

Update: Developers can set a release date for their applications, but they typically don’t know if their applications will have been reviewed and approved in time. To remedy this, they often the release date far in advance and then change it once the application has been approved. Jeff Scott of 148apps has discovered that developers can use the new promo codes to give access to the apps through the App Store as soon as the application is approved, even if the release date hasn’t arrived. This will be an even bigger help for sharing apps with press and friends.

For more, check out the original report on MacRumors here.