As the Epic legal process progressed, we learned more details about internal discussions within the Apple business. With the testimony of Trystan Kosmynka, one of the heads of the App Store, we were able to learn more about the App Store numbers on Friday and say that the iPhone App Store is Apple’s only big success.

Without going into the subject of this lawsuit, it is fascinating to learn more about Apple App Store numbers. With over 500 people reviewing 100,000 apps per week, we found that the majority of the apps we reviewed were iPhone apps.

Analyze numbers from the week of November 16, 2019There is a big discrepancy between iOS numbers and tvOS and macOS numbers:

  • 58,875 iPhone apps were submitted, 15,069 were new apps
  • 681 Mac apps were submitted, 152 were new apps
  • 142 Apple TV apps were submitted, 27 were new apps

Only 73 new apps for watchOS were submitted this week, which shows that there isn’t much to be found in other Apple stores besides the iPhone and iPad app store.

According to these figures, which Apple announced in this case, there were 10,009 tvOS apps and 27,240 macOS apps available in the stores in 2019, while more than a million apps were available in the iPhone / iPad app store.

Those numbers mean at least two things: the iPhone is Apple’s biggest hit, and developers aren’t ready to create apps for tvOS and watchOS.

What happened to tvOS and watchOS app stores?

When Apple launched the fourth generation Apple TV and its App Store, the company had an opportunity to promote Apple TV as a console device-like product. The problem was some restrictions the company placed on developers. This is what Apple asked the developers to do in 2015::

Requirements for games that support game controllers

Apple has created specific requirements that you must follow for any game that supports game controllers. These requirements are designed to ensure that games are always playable.

Your game must support the Apple TV remote control. Your game may not require a controller.

tvOS games that support controllers must support the advanced control layout. All controllers for tvOS are mismatched advanced controllers.

Games must be playable with independent controllers. If you support an advanced controller, the game only needs to be playable with that controller.

You have to support the pause button. All controllers have a pause button. When the gameplay is active, pressing the pause button should pause the gameplay. When the game is not being played e.g. For example, if you are on a menu screen, the pause button switches to a previous content screen.

That changed a year later, However, since Apple TV was never a hit, the developers probably didn’t think it made sense to create a full app for Apple’s set-top box.

In the case of Apple Watch, developers usually say that the WatchKit SDK is limited and that many native Apple Watch apps use private APIs that other apps can’t access to provide the same experience. Over the years Apple has improved the watchOS development experience, but many developers who bet on the platform in the early days will never develop for the watch again.

For example, in 2018, Instagram was one of the many apps pulled out of the Apple Watch app store because Apple needed native apps in updates::

“Instagram’s Apple Watch app was one of the original social networking apps introduced in the early days of watchOS (..). However, the app has not been updated in years to take advantage of the current features. For example, the app didn’t work with Wi-Fi or LTE, even though Apple Watch was given the ability to sideload apps without an iPhone nearby, and Instagram didn’t add any messaging capabilities, even though owner Facebook Messenger supported Apple Watch.

Instead, Instagram joins the growing graveyard of abandoned Apple Watch apps that’s already included Relaxed, whole food, eBay, Amazon and Google Maps. Smart thermostat manufacturer Ecobee too recently pulled out its Apple Watch app but teased the return of a new version in a future update.

As of 2021, Spotify will be one of the few apps to be available again in the Watch App Store, but still less efficient than the Apple Music Watch app.

Wrap up

The Epic vs Apple case will be two more weeks as we are likely to learn more about the structure of Apple. It’s also interesting to see how the company has struggled over the past three years to get developers to keep building apps across all Apple stores.

In 2019, the company presented the Catalyst project at WWDC to help developers make their iOS apps compatible with the Mac. Since then, Apple has released more Apple Watch APIs for developers, as well as the ability to create your own custom – albeit still limited – watch faces.

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