App Video Previews: Tips & Step-by-Step Walkthrough

My first App Preview Video was a total disaster.  It took 2 weeks to develop and cost me over $2000.  When it was finally submitted, it got rejected.  This post will save you hundreds of dollars and hours of extra work so you don’t make the same boneheaded mistakes I did.
So…  Are app videos worth the effort?  What apps need videos and what apps are better off without?
Apple introduced several new search engine optimization tools with the release of iOS 8.  One of the most debatable and under used tool is the Video Preview.
What you NEED to know about video previews is:  They’re cool.  They’re new.  And they’ll get you downloads.  Now how the hell do I create one?

Why did Apple decide to introduce Video Previews?

There are still lots of skeptics about video previews.  Plus we haven’t had an overwhelming amount of developers use previews.  So its hard to measure how video previews correlate to downloads.  However, video previews on the Google Play store have played an important role.  Apps with Video Previews in the Google Store get higher search rankings than apps without.
Fact: Video previews increase your SEO.  When Apple releases a new feature or SEO, they want people to take advantage of it.  If you’re looking to increase your SEO, start thinking video peview.

What apps should have a video preview?

The rule of thumb is – if you feel a video will help get your app’s functionality across, do it!  There are a couple categories that will benefit more than others:

  • Photo/Video – Apps with photo and video editing functionality will benefit from video previews
  • Utility – Apps that look standard but offer unique features that may otherwise be overlooked
  • Games – Especially games with high quality graphics and fun mechanics (like accelerometer controls).   Checkout Tinytown video preview for an example.

Before you spend $$$ on a video preview, remember…

Video previews are just one small piece of the puzzle.  ASO/SEO and metadata need to run in harmony in order to reach the charts. Before you create an app video, you should already have finalized your:

  • Code and Design developmentblueprint
  • Launch Plan
  • Title
  • Keywords
  • Metadata
  • Screenshots

Video previews are the LAST thing I work on.  Checkout this post for more things to consider before building an app.

 What you need to know:

Apple has not completely locked down the video preview process yet.  Previews are still in their infancy and missing a few screws.  But once developers and Apple figures out how to tighten them up, they will explode.
Apple does have several regulations they heavily enforce.  Its great for the buyer, but hard on us developers from a marketing standpoint.  To help get an idea of what Apple approves, checkout a video preview similar to the one you want to create and take a similar approach.  Make sure you follow Apple’s regulations closely.  Here are a few restrictions you may have not considered:

  • Not a promotional tool – Videos are more of a preview tool than a promotional tool.  Don’t follow the same marketing structure you might use for other ASO, like screenshots.
  • Required Devices – You need a Mac running OS 10 Yosemite and an Apple device running iOS 8 or higher.  Don’t bother with iPhone 4, its not supported with video previews.
  • Dimensions – Its recommended you upload videos to as many devices as possible.  Don’t cut your audience short.  Preview dimensions are available for iPhone 5, 6, and iPad in both landscape and portrait.   Make sure if you outsource your video preview, you have them export to all devices.
    • iPhone 5: 640×1136 ; 1080×1920
    • iPhone 6: 750×1334
    • iPhone 6 Plus: 1080×1920
    • iPad: 1536×2048 ; 900×1200
  • File Size – Keep files under 500 MB
  • Length – Between 15 and 30 seconds
  • Video Formats – .mov, .mp4 or .m4v extensions
  • Minimal Advertising – A majority of the clip should be captured straight from the app
  • IAPs – Show In App Purchases and costs
  • One Localization – Cannot translate to more than 1 language
  • Safari – Safari is the only browser Apple allows to upload to iTunes Connect

Checkout the infographic below for a roadmap to a successful preview (TechSmith):


Capturing your app

Here are 3 easy ways to capture your app:Capture

  1. Lightning Connector – Use your USB cord with Quicktime on Yosemite OS or higher.  Super easy, but crashes frequently.
  2. Simulator – Run the code on your computer and capture your screen.
  3. Reflector – Simple and cheap program, no cords needed.  Allows capturing through airplay.  You will need software such as Snapz Pro to record your screen.

Editing a video

Once you’ve captured your app onto your computer, its important to clean it up.  Apple recommends iMovie.  iMovie is not the easiest software to work with, but it will save you a ton of time down the road.  For exporting to the App Store, iMovie is your best bet.
Checkout the video above for a walk-through of editing clips on iMovie and uploading to the Store.

Submitting a video preview

Easy.  The same drag and drop steps apply to screenshots as they do to video previews.  Check your format, size, and video duration, then simply drop it in the upload section.
Your video previews will go into review once you’ve provided a binary, all metadata and have Submitted for review.

DIY VS Outsource?

Outsource your videos.  They’re extremely easy to create, but time consuming.  Here’s how to measure whether to do it yourself, or hire someone:DIY

If it takes you longer to give instruction to a freelancer than to do it yourself, just do it yourself.

I hired a Fiverr freelancer for $5.  All I did was send him 5 screenshots and the copy I wanted in the video, he did the rest.  There are also premium companies like Apptamin that produce high-end videos starting at $1190.

To sum up…

Yes, make a video preview.  It will help your SEO and downloads.  Think of other creative ways to use your video preview clips, like with Social Media campaigns.  Throw them on your Instagram, Vine, and Facebook pages.  Or create an ad video and cross promote your other apps.
The App Store is evolving, users are outgrowing screenshots and looking for new mediums to show what the next wave of technology will bring to our devices.
For an example of a kickass DIY preview, checkout Tinytown’s video preview.  Or you can browse a bunch on Tumblr.
Got a sweet video of your own?  Leave a comment to show it off!


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