Two things I’ve learned about writing UWP apps for Windows

Download my latest Windows 10 apps!

SatRadioGuide:

View a channel guide for your SiriusXM radio on the go! You can’t listen to online radio, but you can browse all available channels, mark your favorite channels, and search by artist or description.
Get it on Windows 10
Know Your States:

Learn information about all 50 United States! Study facts and then quiz yourself on state capitals, flags, birds, and more!
Get it on Windows 10

1. Make desktop versions of your apps!

When Microsoft announced Universal Apps with Windows/Windows Phone 8.1, I thought it was kinda neat but didn’t go out of the way to make any of my Windows Phone apps desktop apps. (I did write a small one, Float to Hex, but it was mostly just to teach myself how to do it) You had to write a whole separate view for each page for both desktop and mobile, which meant you could share model code, etc, but there was still a lot of duplicate work.

After the launch of the Universal Windows Platform with Windows/Windows Phone 10, it became a lot easier to write apps that worked on desktop and on the phone, since you could now use the same views, so I decided to give it a shot. It was still more of a novelty, since the first app I did this for was SatRadioGuide (a SiriusXM channel guide), which I was convinced was way more useful on a phone (i.e. while you’re in the car) than on the desktop, especially since you could just go to the SiriusXM website to look at the channels!

Unfortunately it’s a little hard to get accurate data from the Windows Dev Center on the PC/phone mix, but I’m pretty sure the majority of Windows 10 downloads of SatRadioGuide have come on the PC. In fact, all the in-app purchases on Windows 10 have come on the PC!

My guess is that this is mostly because of install base – there are (by some estimates) 180 million desktop machines that are running Windows 10, and only around 1 million phones. (the number of phones will go up as Windows 10 is officially released for older Lumia models, but still!) Even if a much smaller percentage of people on desktop machines are looking for apps, that install base difference is enormous.

The nice part about the UWP is that many controls adapt to work well on different screen sizes, so it takes a lot less effort to design for both. For SatRadioGuide looking at the Master/detail sample was very helpful. But even if it takes more work, I’ve concluded that it’s worth the effort!

2. IAPs need to be more than just removing ads

Another strategy I’ve used in the past is making my apps free with ads and including an In-App Purchase to turn them off. This had the nice property of working on all of my apps without too much thought. The problem is that apparently this is not a very compelling upgrade, because the sales numbers have been very low.

And, honestly, I can kind of understand this. Even if it’s only 99 cents, when I see the option to remove ads in an app I’m hesitant to buy it. Is it really worth it? It feels like I’m getting very little in return.

Instead, for SatRadioGuide I spent some extra time and added a “Seasonal Stations” feature where you could view the temporary stations that pop up from time to time. I then made the in-app purchase be to show seasonal stations and remove ads, and I raised the price to $2.99. I wasn’t sure if the price was too high, but since it takes ongoing work by me to keep it up to date, it felt reasonable.

And lo and behold, people have been buying! In raw numbers it’s not too impressive, but it’s more than had been buying the “remove ads” IAP, and since the price went up the revenue difference is substantial.

So, from now on I’m going to try to find extra features that I can add to an IAP. For Know Your States, when I ported it to UWP I added a map quiz behind an IAP, and I’m hopeful that people will think it’s worth upgrading.

See all my Windows/Windows Phone development posts. I also send out a monthly-or-so email with news for developers – check out the latest email and sign up here!

I’m planning on writing more posts about Windows Phone development – what would you like to hear about? Reply here, on twitter at @gregstoll, or by email at greg@gregstoll.com.

3 thoughts on “Two things I’ve learned about writing UWP apps for Windows”

  1. I would pay .99 to remove ads because I see it as my way of buying the app after having tried it and liked it. That said, if I also got a state quiz, I’d totally buy that!

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  2. I was wondering about how to monetize my upcoming app. This helped me a lot. Without mentioning numbers (for privacy), would you say IAP’s or Ad’s bring in more revenue (before and after).

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    1. Glad to hear it! I’d say if you have any sort of reasonable IAP, that’s your best bet for monetizing. Ads are good but the amount you get per impression is just so low that unless you have a very popular app they don’t add up to much. When my downloads spiked after Know Your States was reviewed a few places (blog post with numbers coming!) I got up to $5.00 from ads for the month. I think having an ad is a good way to help encourage people to buy an IAP, though, and I haven’t tried any sort of interstitial ads, which I think have a higher price per impression.

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