It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for free and discounted iPhone apps, that is. Here’s your reminder that today marks the return of Indie app Santa Claus, launched an initiative to help smaller app developers reach new audiences without having to pay for expensive App Store ads. The event, which began in 2020, is now entering its third year and offering both a Twitter feed of deals as well as its own advent calendar-like app where iPhone users can unlock one premium app each day for free or at a hefty discount.
The deals start today, December 1, 2022, and run through January 10, 2023. It’s sort of a month-long Black Friday event, but only for indie apps. While TBEN doesn’t typically write about sales or promotions, this one is worth checking out as it inevitably turns up some undiscovered gems and helps support the community of indie app developers.
This year’s Indie App Santa event offers 40 deals across a wider range of categories, including mobile games. While the names of the apps won’t be released ahead of time, Indie App Santa creator François Boulais tells us there’s at least one app that won an Apple Design Award this year. He also notes that half of the deals offered will be for free downloads of otherwise paid apps rather than just discounts.
Boulais credits two friends helping him run the event, back-end developer Jean Delasalle and front-end developer Thibault Saint-Germain.
While participating developers must offer discounts to join, they ultimately reap the rewards in other ways. Aside from the initial wave of users, the increased exposure often helps them gain long-term loyal users who also leave higher ratings and reviews. It also boosts their app on the App Store charts around one of the busiest times of the year for downloads: the holiday season. And the apps that offer other in-app purchases can benefit from increased sales in the days following their deal’s listing.
As developer of Luilux, Christian Lobach, noticed last year: “I spent more money on search ad campaigns with much worse results [sic].”
This year’s event kicked off today with the launch of Attitude friend, a mobile app that cleverly uses the motion sensors in your AirPods to help you improve your neck, shoulder, and back posture without the need for some extra tracking device. Instead, the app tracks if your neck tilts and sends an alert. Typically, the Pro plan is $14.99, according to the Indie App Santa listing, but users can go to the app’s settings today and select a lifetime free plan.
More deals will be released in the coming weeks for you to follow the @indieappsanta Twitter feed or by downloading the app. If you choose the latter, you get the experience of tapping small celebratory windows that open to reveal the icon of the free or discounted app. You can then click through to learn more about the app and check out and install the app on your iOS device. If you choose to support the program through a $4.99 in-app purchase, you’ll gain access to other features such as push notifications to alert you to deals as they come in, alternate app icons, and soon widgets. Many don’t necessarily pay for the feature set, but they pay to support the program itself – and the app also allows you to increase your donation.