With an absence of demos and free trials on the App Store, it has been very difficult to explain the true value of your application to prospective customers. If your app was difficult to explain in text or to show off with some screenshots, you were out of luck.
With iOS 8, Apple has given developers of all kinds another weapon to use – App Previews. These 15 to 30 second videos are a great way to show the killer features of your application, explain what makes your app unique, and win over customers.
In this post, I’ll show you how to make a video preview for your application, using tools you probably already have, and share some tips on getting the most out of the time you invest in creating this 30 second clip.
Why you need a great app video preview
By crafting a well-done app video preview, you can show your application in action, and sell it based on how it actually works, not how people imagine it does from looking at static images. With 30 seconds, you can show quite a lot, if you think carefully about what you’re recording.
What to think about before you record
Before you record your preview, you need to give it some thought. It’s best to ask yourself the following questions, as the answers will help shape your video.
What features am I going to show?
You have 30 seconds to show off your app. This is enough time to show off your best features and the unique parts of your app, but it’s not enough time to demo your application in full. You have to think about the features you’re going to show, and why.
At this point it’s worth listing out every function and feature of your application. Once you’ve got the list, circle those features that you’re most proud of, or that bring the most value to your app. Star those that are secondary, but would be good to mention in a rundown. Cross out those that are obvious, or can be explained with static screenshots or in the description text of the App Store.
Which feature is the most important?
As with any video, you need to catch your audiences attention within the first few seconds. If you fail to grab them, they’ll leave.
Now you’ve listed all your app’s features, and you know which ones you want to show, you need to order them. It’s good to open with an interesting or eye-catching feature, one that makes people go “WOW!”, and keeps them watching.
Keep it family friendly
Even if your application is rated 17+, your video is open for everyone to see. For this reason, you need to make sure the content in the video is suitable for people aged 4 and above.
For apps that rely on more mature content, this could be an interesting challenge. (And make sure you don’t drop any F-bombs!)
Is there anything else I need to cover?
Does your application require a subscription or login? Are many of its features locked away behind an In-App Purchase? Is there some required hardware for the application to work?
If the answer to any of those is yes, then it’s worth mentioning this in your video. It makes for happier customers when they come to download your application.
If you’re going to log in during your video, make sure you use a dummy username and password. If extra hardware is required, remember that you can’t show a video of the hardware in use. You can mention it in passing, or possibly pop up an image of the hardware.
Apple recommends that you don’t mention any prices in your App Preview. Prices are subject to change, and they will not be the same across countries and territories. As the price is displayed on the App Store page for your application, there’s no requirement to mention it in the App Preview.
Do I need a script?
If you’re going to voiceover your App Preview, I would highly recommend a script.
There are those who can speak confidently and concisely on a subject for hours with no problem. They just sit down, know what they’re doing to talk about, and they do it. For many people, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
If you’re one of the latter, now would be a good time to write a script and rehearse. Start by reading your script aloud, listening to what you say and how you say it. Once you’re confident, time how long it takes you to speak. Your video needs to be between 15 and 30 seconds. You don’t have to speak for all of it, but if you’re running over, then you have problems.
Now try speaking whilst using the application, making sure that what you’re saying makes sense when you’re working through the app as you would in the video.
What about the content in my video?
You need to make sure you have the correct rights to use the content in your App Preview. This includes any images, videos, sounds, works of text, and any other content created by others. If you don’t want to pay for rights, you can get some great free content at these places:
- Images: http://www.unsplash.com
- Sounds and Music: https://www.freesound.org/browse/
- Videos: http://www.xstockvideo.com
The tools you need
If you’re developing for iOS, you probably already have all the tools you need to create a preview video. They are:
- Mac OS X Yosemite (a free download for all Mac owners)
- Quicktime Player (built into Yosemite)
- An iOS device running iOS 8
- The USB cable for your iOS device
If you want to add a bit more to the video, you’ll need:
– A microphone (the headset that came with your iOS device should do, if you don’t have anything else)
– iMovie, Final Cut Pro, or another video editing application
How to get recording
Now you know what you’re going to show and what you’re going to say (if anything) and you’ve got the tools you need, it’s time to get recording.
To record the video, you’ll need to connect your iOS device to your Mac, and start recording the screen using QuickTime. Here’s how:
- Connect your iOS device to your Mac using its USB cable
- If prompted, trust the computer on the iOS device
- Open QuickTime on the Mac running Yosemite
- From the File menu, select New Movie Recording
- From the Input dropdown, select your iOS device
- The iOS display will be displayed in the QuickTime window
Now that your device is connected and QuickTime can see it, you’re ready to get recording.
You’ll need to record at the native resolution of the device you’re using, on an iOS device with at least a 4″ screen. The required resolution for each device is:
How to edit
If you want to add some images, text or audio to your App Preview, you’ll need to open your recording in a video editing app and do some editing. If you purchased your Mac in 2014, you’ve already got iMovie on your Mac App Store account and you can use this to create your App Previews. You may need to adjust the aspect ratio and rotate clips (iMovie doesn’t do portrait videos at time of writing).
Update: Apple quietly released a new version of iMovie when it released Yosemite. This update supports creating App Preview videos, importing iPhone and iPad recordings from QuickTime Player, 11 animated titles designed to showcase your apps, and the ability to easily export for the App Store.
If you want to do something flashier, you can purchase and download Final Cut Pro or another video editing software. These apps give you a lot more control and options for what you do with your video. You can add effects, overlay objects and images, strip out audio and redo, etc, etc.
If you’re looking for something free and open source, take a look at Blender. It can take a while to master, but is an incredibly powerful piece of editing software.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty of how to edit your videos here, as this will depend on your personal style and the editing suite you’re using. But, remember these points:
- Portrait videos are preferred, as anyone viewing them won’t have to rotate their device
- Your video must be between 15 and 30 seconds long
- Overlay images and text only where it’s necessary
- For other tips, visit https://developer.apple.com/app-store/app-previews/
Why do it this way?
As is so often the case with iOS development, this is the way Apple wants these things done, and so we must obey. Following the above tips and steps should mean you end up with a great App Preview that Apple is happy to put on your app store page.
Examples of great App Previews
Stuck for inspiration? Check out these great App Previews for Table Tennis Touch and Clear!
Over To You!
Have you already made an App Preview or got some great ideas about how you’re going to do it? Let us know in the comments or on the forum.
Looking for a way to get free downloads for your apps? Check out Tapdaq!