July 31, 2014 Last Updated 2:29 pm

Apple’s app team picks an app out of a hat to promote, and it turns out to be a good one: intoGardens

UK gardening app delivers a unique experience to iPad owners through a native app that features plenty of galleries and video

The chance your digital publishing app has for success is, as most developers will tell, determined mostly be whether you get promoted by Apple’s App Store team. No promotion, then the only hope you have is that your brand is big enough to be searched for by readers. It’s a crap shoot, that more and more is leading to disappointment.

How to get Apple to promote your app? Well, besides $$$? Good question. Quality is irrelevant, as a quick look at the apps getting promotion in the Newsstand will show. At the top are the Time Inc. magazine apps, which is a result of a marketing deal with Apple. As for the other titles, those are comprised of big name consumer titles, some of which have good to decent apps, but many are horrible. Mixed in there are a few of the digital-only titles that are now familiar to TNM readers such as TRVL and The Magazine.

IG-sliderBut every once in a while the Apple team will surprise you.

Today, for instance, for reasons unknown, intoGardens is being promoted in the U.S. Newsstand. Why it is being featured is a mystery, as the UK app is not in the UK store. It is as if someone pulls an app out of the hat and said “OK, let’s add this one to the front page.”

It is an interesting choice because it is an interesting app, one TNM has not had a chance to write about until today. The reason is that the app has not been updated for almost a year, and it is actually a pretty old app, originally launched in October of 2012 (old as iPad apps go, that is).

In January of 2013 the app received a critical bug fix update, then again in May of 2013, then a final subscription fix last August.

The app is unique in that it is not a magazine or newspaper app that uses a familiar publishing platform, it is an app in the truest sense, built from scratch. So, for many readers, the app will feel strange, foreign, and a bit confusing. Because of this, as you will see in the gallery below, instructions keep popping on the screen to help readers along.

The app can be read in both portrait and landscape and requires a bit of computing power, so the app description warns readers that to “avoid disappointment please remember that the app will sadly not work on the oldest iPads. Sorry.”

The latest issue only weighs in at 133 MB, a modest size for an app that features plenty of galleries and video clips. New issues appear sporadically and are called episodes, and until the latest one were priced at $4.99 in the US store and £2.99 in the UK store. But the US price dropped to $2.99 with the latest available.

There are only a few reader reviews inside the US store, including the inevitable one from someone who doesn’t get that Newsstand apps are free, but you have to buy issues inside the app. But there are more reviews in the UK store and they are overwhelmingly positive. (It should be mentioned that the website for intoGardens is very well done, as well.)

Featuring apps like intoGardens is precisely what Apple should be doing more often. The sales Apple derives from newspapers and magazines is a pittance compared to its audio, video and hardware sales. Promoting quality would differentiate Apple from the other electronic newsstands. But it has been all about $$$ this past year or so at Apple and the Newsstand has been the biggest loser because of it.

[tribulant_slideshow gallery_id=”40″]

  • James 3 years ago

    Thanks for this.
    I did not see that Apple were promoting us but nice to know they did. We are available in the UK Store (as is our iPhone app which is called simply Gardens)
    It is hard being noticed on Newsstand and a little frustrating that standard app versions of paper magazines always seem to get more coverage than us even though, as you point out, we are a true App!
    Especially as we do not have much cash!
    Thank you too for your kind words about the website.
    We try and put out entertaining and unique content – one day the world will notice how unutterably fabulous we are!