Adding Bling to Your iOS App Store Presence with App Preview Videos

The App store now allows app videos along with screenshots. Google Play has had them for a long time, but now your iOS app can have one, too. For many developers, this is exciting news!

This means that you can now submit up to 25 screenshots (5 screenshots per screen size) and an app preview video or a trailer, likewise resized for three of the phone sizes and most likely re-created for iPad. You can also submit the same number of screenshots for every language for your app that you choose to submit. To be honest, you could spend days designing screenshot after screenshot, resizing them, uploading them, and rinsing and repeating for localizations. At the moment, you don’t have to localize your app video, but potentially this could come in the future.

Why App Videos are Important

Icons and screenshots are the first contact a potential app user has with your software creation, so designing them well is critically important to the success of your app. Now that Apple is allowing developers to submit a video, it seems to be prioritizing video over still images. Many of the App Store’s featured apps have an app video, and, to be honest, it does catch the eye. I believe that the app trailer is going to provide real promotional value to apps, so small and indie developers owe it to themselves to create them and submit them to Apple along with your fabulous app.

Creating App Videos

Installing Yosemite

The surprising thing now about these videos is that Apple obliges you to submit them only using Safari and OS 10.10 (aka Yosemite), an OS that is still in beta. On a personal level, I was quite nervous about downloading beta software on my development computer but the process went smoothly after I partitioned my machine. I followed the instructions listed here and had Yosemite up and running in about an hour.

yosemite

Important Specifications

To create an app trailer, there are certain specifications that Apple lists. I recommend following them to the letter to avoid potential app rejections which can delay your release. The most important things to note before starting to film are that the video:

  • Must be between 15 and 30 seconds;
  • Must avoid branding (this means no ads);
  • If narrated, should be narrated professionally;
  • Should avoid copyright issues with any overlying soundtracks;
  • Should avoid unnecessary images or fancy effects (this sadly had me throw out a fun trailer I made with Magisto as it likely would have been rejected).

I decided to create a silent version of my app trailer to avoid problems with song copyright and language issues. Professional voice talent can be expensive, so it seemed easier to create a quiet 30 second video just showing the screens of my app.

Recording the Video

To create the trailer, I used QuickTime on Yosemite. A brilliant new feature allows you to record your connected iPhone or iPad right on the screen (similar to how Reflector allows you to show your iPhone’s screen live on your desktop). As you record, QuickTime even changes your device’s time in the top bar to a standard format to avoid showing your carrier information. Once you finish recording, you can use QuickTime to trim your video clip to the correct length (under 30 seconds).

After this, the video needs some special processing to get it ready to become your trailer. Apple, predictably, recommends using Final Cut Pro to add audio and splice images in to create a truly professional video. I don’t have Final Cut Pro (and it’s somewhat expensive), so I fell back to an old standby to process my videos, MPEG Streamclip by Squared 5, which is available for free.

This video processing and encoding software allows you resize your video to fit Apple’s requirements, save it at the correct rate of frames-per-second, and convert it to just the right format to satisfy Apple. If you don’t make these adjustments, you will get errors when trying to upload your video like this:

app_screenshot

Drag the video that is produced by QuickTime into MPEG Streamclip. Select File > Export to other formats and choose the Quick Time Movie format. Export it with a frame rate 30 and sized appropriately based on the chart below:

 

Native Resolution

Accepted Landscape Resolutions

Accepted Portrait Resolutions

5 Series

1136 x 640 (16:9)

1920 x 1080 or 1136 x 640

1080 x 1920 or 640 x 1136

iPad

2048 x 1536 (4:3)

1200 x 900

900 x 1200

iPhone 6

1334 x 750

1334 x 750

750 x 1334

iPhone 6 Plus

2208 x 1242 (Rendered Pixels)

1920 x 1080 (Physical Pixels)

1920 x 1080

1080 x 1920

In MPEG Streamclip you can specify a Frame Size by choosing the ‘Other’ radio button and entering the values above.

Finishing Up

Once your video has been exported from MPEG Streamclip, you can upload it to iTunesConnect. You can specify the initial frame that is shown to the user by clicking ‘Edit Poster Frame’. This is important as that image is the very first screenshot your potential customers will see, so choose wisely.

Conclusion

This procedure will get you a very basic trailer up and running on iTunesConnect to allow your customers a moving glimpse into your app. If you want something fancier, I recommend using Final Cut Pro or iMovie, but be careful to follow Apple’s guidelines. Take a look at the videos currently live on the App store for inspiration. Good luck!

Header image courtesy of Chuck Coker

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