App Store is a digital distribution platform, developed and maintained by Apple Inc., for mobile apps on its iOS operating system. The store allows users to browse and download apps developed with Apple’s iOS software development kit. Apps can be downloaded on the iPhone smartphone, the iPod Touch handheld computer, the iPad tablet computer, and to the Apple Watch smartwatch and 4th-generation Apple TV as extensions of iPhone apps.
Developers have multiple options for monetizing their applications, ranging from free, free with in-app purchases, and paid. However, App Store has been criticized for a lackluster development environment, prompting the company in June 2016 to announce a “renewed focus and energy” on the store. Major changes introduced in the following months include ads in search results, a new app subscription model, and the ability for developers to respond to customer reviews. Additionally, Apple began a process to remove old apps that do not function as intended or that don’t follow current app guidelines, with app research firms noticing significant numbers of app removals from the store. Furthermore, with the release of iOS 11 in late 2017, App Store will receive a complete design overhaul, bringing a greater focus on editorial content and daily highlights, as well as a design similar in style to several of Apple’s built-in iOS apps.
After the success of Apple’s App Store and the launch of similar services by its competitors, the term “app store” has been adopted to refer to any similar service for mobile devices. However, Apple applied for a U.S. trademark on the term “App Store” in 2008, which was tentatively approved in early 2011. In June 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who was presiding over Apple’s case against Amazon, said she would “probably” deny Apple’s motion to stop Amazon from using the “App Store” name. In July, Apple was denied preliminary injunction against Amazon’s Appstore by a federal judge.
The term app has become a popular buzzword; in January 2011, app was awarded the honor of being 2010’s “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society. “App” has been used as shorthand for “application” since at least the mid-1990s, and in product names since at least 2006, for example then-named Google Apps.
Apple announced Mac App Store, a similar app distribution platform for its macOS personal computer operating system, in October 2010, with the official launch taking place in January 2011 with the release of its 10.6.6 “Snow Leopard” update.