6 Tips For Creating App Previews That Get Downloads

App Previews on the Apple App Store can convince people to download your app. Learn how to make them count.


This is a guest post by Sam Hutchings, Content Crafter at Tapdaq. You can find him online and in Barcelona, where he loves to talk about Apple and cool new apps.

With the launch of iOS 8.0, Apple brought App Previews to the App Store. These 15-30 second videos allow you to show off your app in a more dynamic and engaging way.

Luckily, you can do this with hardware and software you likely already own. So today I’d like to share six tips for creating great App Previews.

Use QuickTime Player To Record

This software has been built into every Mac for over two decades, but I doubt that many of us use it that often to record videos. For App Developers looking to create App Previews, this is about to change, as Apple has announced that App Preview videos should be made using QuickTime Player to record the display of an iOS 8 device. Keep in mind that the iOS device has to have a screen size of four inches or more.

Record iPhone with QuickTime

Luckily, Apple has made it really easy to record an iPhone using QuickTime Player. Simply select the iPhone’s display and audio as inputs when creating a new movie.

The status bar is even dressed up to look as it would in an Apple advertisement. This keeps your video clean and consistent with Apple’s overall marketing aesthetic.

Focus On Your App’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

What makes your app special? Why should people download your app? Whatever it is, show it off in your App Preview.

For some apps it will be a specific feature or functionality that is unique or particularly well executed that sets it apart from everything else in a category. For example, an image editing application for the iPad called Pixelmator could use its App Preview to show off their feature that removes unwanted parts of an image.

Apps like Tweetbot, Tinder and Clear may show off their unique gestures and ways you can interact with their apps. Here is an example of Clear’s App Preview video.

Before App Previews, some of these USPs would be very difficult to show in just 5 static screenshots. With a 15-30 second video, you can give potential users a much better look at how great your app is.

Only Speak If You Need To (And If You Have A “Radio Voice”)

Despite how much we like to talk about our apps, sometimes it’s better to let them speak for themselves. When it comes to creating an App Preview, it is generally best practice to let your app do the talking through how it looks and acts on screen, with a little music in the background. Remember to check to see if you can legally use your desired background music for an App Preview.

If you are thinking about speaking in your App Preview, make sure that it’s 100% required. Your App Preview video will be the same across all countries, including markets where English may not be the primary language.

While your app’s listing and content can be localized, your app video can’t. So keep this in mind when deciding to include your voice or not.

Last, but far from least, we all have unique voices and not all of them work well for narration. If you don’t have the greatest voice and your video must be narrated, hire someone to do the voiceover.

Here is a good example of an App Preview that does a good job of using a narrator to convey the value of the app.

Let Potential Users Know About Any Requirements

Does your app rely on something else to work? Then tell your potential customers about it.

Some apps require extra hardware, a login or in-app purchases for all features to work. This can hurt your ratings and reviews if this is not clear from the start. An App Preview is a great place to mention this by showing the login process (with dummy credentials), mentioning it in scripted dialogue, or by showing a message on screen.

Notification of In-App purchase

By being forthcoming with this information, you’re educating and informing your users. This will make it more likely that you will get qualified purchases and downloads that lead to higher user satisfaction and better reviews and ratings.


Unless you’re some kind of app advertising video genius, it’s highly unlikely that the first version of your App Preview will be the one that makes it into the App Store. There will be things you overlook, things that can be removed, and parts that can be polished.

Ask friends and family for feedback. If you like being open and transparent with your development process, ask your audience. Just as you would with your app itself, iterate on your original idea until you’re able to articulately and effectively sell your app in under 30 seconds.

Rehearse. Rehearse. And Rehearse Again!

Practice makes perfect and going through the demonstration steps in your application a few times can make your life a lot easier when it comes to recording and editing. Your app will also look more intuitive and fluid if there are fewer cuts in your video.

If you’re doing a voiceover and are finding it hard to remember the words, try using a teleprompter app on your computer, or an iPad. This will give you one less thing to think about and hopefully speed up the process.

Video script on iPad

Bonus: Follow The Guidelines

Apple has created a page with guidelines and advice for creating your App Preview videos. Exact specifications for the video files can be found in the developer portal. We also wrote a step-by-step guide on how to create your first video.

Keeping these tips in mind when recording will give you the best chance of success when your video hits the App Store.


“I have a feeling we’re going to start seeing less of the classic app promo videos and more of these short App Previews, and I’m totally fine with that.” -Dan Counsell, RealMac Software

Creating an App Preview that really shows off your application is an excellent free (if you do the work yourself) way to drive downloads of your app. It gives you the full attention of your prospective customers for up to 30 seconds, which is more than enough time to get your main points across. If you’re looking for a way to increase downloads, creating an App Preview is a great option.

Everyone here at Tapdaq believes that developers who build high quality apps should have an opportunity to succeed. That is why our community of developers exchange insights like these App Preview tips. We also help each other build better applications and acquire more users, at no cost.

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Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: November 2014

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