How to bend Apple’s video preview rules and live to tell the tale

Among the many new and exciting features brought to us by iOS 8, app developers and marketers were especially enthusiastic about the possibility of presenting potential users with a video preview of their app. The 15-30-seconds-long trailer can demonstrate the wonders of your product in the clearest, most entertaining way, and the feature is well on its way to become a mobile marketing must-have.

But even with the new spirit of flexibility of iOS 8, Apple remains Apple, which means that every new feature comes with new guidelines. The company introduced a set of recommendations for creating a brilliant video, and a few more restricting rules that marketers must follow in order to get their precious video approved.

The restrictions are few and painful. To summarize, mobile marketers face the challenge presented mostly by the following limitations:

1. “Don’t film people interacting with the device (such as over-the-shoulder angles or fingers tapping the screen). Stay within the app”

2. “For games, show a higher ratio of gameplay to cutscenes.”

In this new, uncharted territory, most app marketers are still hesitant about bending the rules, especially considering the level of financial investment a proper video requires. However, we have recently witnessed a few brave apps who managed to get a rebellious video approved, against all odds and guidelines:

Magisto: The preview for this video-editing app was filmed entirely outside the app. Not only that, it clearly shows the forbidden finger tapping that was specifically mentioned in the guidelines (Note: the link below shows part of the full-length app promo that was used to create the official preview).

Lovoo: much like Magisto, this dating app used outside-the-app footage throughout the entire preview. In addition, the last few seconds show real world video material that has very little, if anything, to do with the actual app.

Samba: The preview is for a video messaging app that records people’s reactions in real-time. Other than capturing footage outside the device and tapping fingers, which we’ve almost grown accustomed to at this point, the video shows footage of a person sitting at a desk, calmly violating the restriction on filming people interacting with the app. Even more interesting is the fact that the original promo for the app (embedded below) displayed longer interaction footage, leaving us to wonder if the company decided to cut it short in an attempt to make the preview a tad more acceptable.

Dance Party: This is by far the most daring violation we’ve seen. The preview for this dancing app shamelessly presents real-world footage of people interacting with the app. It remains unclear how the preview was ever approved, considering that it hardly shows any in-app action at all.

iHookup: To the preview producers’ credit, their way of bending the rules is sort of romantic. The film includes, in addition to the famous animated finger, plenty of sweet dating scenes. Although let’s face it, that’s not exactly why users installed iHookup in the first place, now is it?

Max Axe – Epic Adventure: This is a pretty cool video, and we can see why Apple chose to forgive the fact that it shows quite a bit of cut scenes. The official video (full-length promo shown below) presents very little game time and consists mostly of cute, external animation.

After carefully examining the app previews available at this point, we can already notice a pattern: Apple seems to turn a blind eye to videos that are not at all in compliance with the guidelines. While this may be the case of a reviewer in a very good mood, there’s also a chance that Apple finds it impossible, or even pointless, to enforce the rules. Either way, there are plenty of mobile marketers and developers out there who would love to take advantage of this opportunity and make an original, creative preview.

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