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How to Submit Your App to the App Store and Avoid Rejection

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Are you ready to submit your app to the App Store for approval? Think again! Just because you feel your app will rock the market doesn’t mean it will because you must first obtain App Store approval. Here’s a checklist for you to follow in order to go through the process as quickly and easily as possible.

Unfortunately, the App Store approval process proves to be a hurdle that many people don’t see coming. This is especially true for developers and/or technical companies that are unfamiliar with the process for submitting an app to the app store. Issues encountered during the review process stem from what developers describe as Apple’s: inconsistency, poor communication, review guidelines (left too much to interpretation) and incompetencies with areas such as ‘iTunes Connect’. The issue most referenced to is with Apple’s app review process being too slow. In fact—according to macstories.net, 4 out of 5 developers surveyed, indicated they felt the processing speed for app review was poor.

How long does Apple take to review an app?

That answer depends on various factors such as: the type of app (Mac OS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS), features (ads, Apple Pay, in app purchases, maps, notifications) and the complexity of the application. To help determine average review times, websites like appreviewtimes.com (currently reporting 3-4 days) offer estimates based on crowdsourced data. The problem is that even though many sources report an average approval time of 7 days or less, there is no way to know exactly how long it will take. Some apps are approved in days while others, have taken months. Delays wreak havoc on a project’s timeline and could end up costing you.

The best advice we at 10Clouds can provide is to properly prepare to submit your app to the app store. The process for submitting an app can take weeks from your initial submission and cause extreme delays to your product timeline. To help improve the chances of getting your app into the App Store and make the process as painless as possible, follow our Apple App Store Submission Checklist.

Prepare to submit your app to the App Store

How? Make sure you have:

  • a valid Apple Developer account,
  • registered to submit your iOS app to the App Store. Enrol or obtain additional information from the Apple Developer Program. Please note there is an annual fee of $99.00 to belong to the Apple Developer Program.
  • a computer running OS X with Xcode (the main iOS development tool) and Keychain access.

Verify your app meets the guidelines

Avoid common causes for rejection and verify your app meets App Store Review Guidelines:

  • app has been tested across devices, doesn’t crash and is without bugs,
  • all links are functional with a live link to user support and up-to-date contact details,
  • images and text are finalized so your app is without placeholder content.

Organize and compile application details

One of the most common reasons apps are rejected is because the submitter fails to provide proper information in the required fields. There are no excuses for this type of mistake because it can easily be avoided so be sure to collect all required information prior to making your app submission. To help avoid having incomplete information, complete the checklist below.

App name – Make sure it’s properly presented

When naming your app, bear in mind that name selection is the most important task in properly optimizing your mobile app because it is what the Apple App Store will use to index your product and is the key factor in helping to convert views to installs. If a viewer is unable to determine what your app does from its name, they will most likely move on. Once a name is selected, it can only be updated or changed when a new build for an updated version of your app is submitted to Apple.

When selecting a name for your app, know that Apple requires that your name contain at least 2 characters and be no more than 75 bytes. Also note that Apple recommends that you keep your name to having a maximum of 23 characters so that it is properly presented across all iOS devices. With that being said—take your time with this process and remember to choose wisely!

Description

A description can be modified at any point but must include information about your app’s features and functionality. Writing a solid description can potentially hook users into downloading your app so make the opportunity count. Focus on the above the fold content that is displayed to searchers without them having to click on the “more” link.

Add app screenshots

For every supported device’s screen size, you must provide at least 1 screenshot. There are additional specifications that must be followed when capturing screen shots. For instance, you must eliminate the device’s status bar from all screenshots. Visit Apple’s iOS developer library to review the full list of screenshot properties that are required.

Sample video/app preview

Although it is optional, it is highly recommended that you take it one step further and create a video preview of your application. This is a great way to showcase the features and functionality to Apple and users that are interested in purchasing and downloading the app. Note that all videos must be a minimum of 15 seconds and a maximum of 30 seconds. We recommend keeping the video to a little under the 30 seconds just to be safe. The last thing you want to deal with is having your app denied because you accidentally submitted a video that is slightly over the 30-second mark!

Keywords

Apple provides you with up to 100 bytes of content for listing out keywords so optimize wisely and pick keywords that are relevant and try to identify terms that are searched for but have low competition.

Categories

You must select a primary category but secondary categories are optional. It is recommended that when selecting a category, you pick the category that best describes your app’s main function. If you are unhappy with your selection, you are able to change it.

App icon

Make a positive first visual impression of your app by designing an icon that stands out so that it helps grab a user’s attention. When designing your app, pay attention to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines. Here are the guidelines for when designing for iOS,OS X, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

Support URL

Having a support URL wasn’t always needed but is now a mandatory requirement by Apple. The URL must contain support information about your app and should include either a contact form or email address that customers can use to get in touch with you.

Rating

When submitting your iOS application, you must provide a rating based on Apple’s rating chart. All you have to do here is answer the questions asked because the answers will determine your rating. Also note that some countries require more specific ratings so be sure to review territory specific ratings and requirements when determining your rating.

Copyright

Don’t forget to include copyright details in the format: YYYY Company Name. Remember to only use artwork that you have permission to use or have the copyright of.
For any app that requires to log in, you must have both:

  • Demo Account
  • Privacy Policy URL

For apps with login functionality, a demo account (username and password for a full access account) is required for submission so that Apple can review your app. This account is only for App Store review and can be deleted once your app has been approved.
Although Apple doesn’t make this a requirement for all app submissions, it is needed for any app that collects, stores or shares personal information. For instance, Privacy Policy URLs are required for any app that offers free subscriptions or that is set to auto-renew. It is also required for any app utilising a third party service or that is set to Made for Kids or that contains a research kit. It is for these reasons that it is always a good idea to have a privacy policy in place for your product.

Determine Bundle ID

During the app submission process, Apple requests a Bundle ID, which uniquely defines each app and how it is seen by the App Store and iOS devices. It is important because it is used in multiple places (Xcode, iTunes Connect, for your App ID and iCloud container ID) to identify your app throughout various stages of development.
To create your Bundle identifier:

  1. Go to developer.apple.com.
  2. Select “Member Center”.
  3. Log in using your Apple ID and password.
  4. Select “Certificates, Identifiers and Profiles”.
  5. Select “Identifiers” (left side of screen).
  6. Click on + Sign (top right).
  7. Under app ID description, type the name of your app (you want your app ID to be the same as the name of your application).
  8. Create your unique Bundle ID. The default Bundle ID is string formulated as a reverse-domain that is set in your Xcode project. The example Apple provides for this is—com.MyCompany.MyProductName. The Bundle ID string can only contain alphanumeric characters (A-Z,a-z,0-9), hyphen (-), and period (.).
  9. Select any app services that your application will require, Continue.
  10. Verify services and submit!

Be sure to note that your Bundle ID can’t be edited following the build being uploaded so make sure everything is inline prior to upload.

Generate Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

The KeyChain Access utility is a password management system in OS X that allows you to manage passwords for everything (encrypted folders, networks, servers and websites). Commonly, KeyChain Access is used by application developers for managing certificates. In this case, we will be referring to using KeyChain Access to generate a certificate signing request, which links your computer to your Apple Developer Account. To do this follow the directions below.

Directions for How to Successfully Create a CSR
Under KeyChain access, request a certificate from a certificate authority. This will activate the Certificate Assistant. Here, you will need to fill in the following:

  • User Email: (email address used for your Apple Developer account),
  • Common Name: (can be anything but often, developers use the name of the app),
  • CA Email: (enter your email one more time),
  • check radio button for “Saved to Disk”,
  • Check the box next to “Let me specify key pair information”. However, if you haven’t changed from the default value, leave as is.
  • Click Continue.
  • Give Your Certificate Signing Request (CSR) a descriptive name, select an organized location to save on your hard drive and click SAVE.

App Store Production/Certificate

You must have a Certificate for Production signed by Apple in order to create a distribution provisioning profile.

To create an App Store Production Certificate:

  1. Go to developer.apple.com.
  2. Select “Member Center”.
  3. Log in using your Apple ID and password.
  4. Select “Certificates, Identifiers and Profiles”.
  5. Select “Certificates” (left side of the screen).
  6. Click on + sign (top right).
  7. Under Production (aka Distribution), select App Store and Ad Hoc and click Continue.
  8. Upload the CSR (instructions above) that was previously generated.
  9. Download the certificate.
  10. Double click to install the certificate.
  11. Save the file in a safe place on your computer.

Compose Production/Distribution Provisioning Profile

In order to publish to the App Store, the application must be created with an App Store Distribution provisioning profile. This differs from the development provisioning profile because with the the iOS distribution provisioning profile, only one distribution certificate can be specified, which will be the signing identity used to code sign the app when compiling the package to be submitted to Apple’s App Store.

  1. Go to developer.apple.com.
  2. Select “Member Center”.
  3. Log in using your Apple ID and password.
  4. Select “Certificates, Identifiers and Profiles”.
  5. In the iOS Apps panel, click on Provisioning Profiles.
  6. Click on + sign (top right).
  7. Select App Store and click Continue.
  8. Select an app ID to associate with your profile and click Continue. If you are planning  to use one provisioning profile for more than one app, be sure to select a wildcard App if it is available.
  9. Select a certificate to include in the profile and click Continue.
  10. Create a name for the profile and click Generate.

If you wish, you now have the option to download the provisioning profile.

Create your App Store listing in iTunes Connect

Create your App Store listing to reserve a spot in Apple’s App Store.

  1. Log in to iTunes Connect.
  2. Click “My Apps”.
  3. Click + sign (top left side of screen).
  4. In dropdown, click “New iOS App”.
  5. Fill in necessary details: Name, primary language, bundle ID, version, SKU and bundle ID suffix. Ensure Bundle ID and SKU # are in line with what was created earlier.
  6. Click “Create” to generate the first version listing.

Generate Release Build and define version information

Once you have added an app to iTunes Connect, uploading a build for your application using Xcode will be fairly easy.
Creating the Release Build:

    1. Begin Xcode.
    2. Open Workspace.
    3. Update build/version numbers.
    4. Open Build Settings (make certain you have selected “All Settings”).
    5. Scroll down to Code Signing.
    6. Use the provisioning profile and code signing identity previously created.
    7. In the menu at the top, select iOS Device as the build destination.
    8. Go to “Project Archive” through Menu.
    9. Click “Distribute”.
    10. Sign in Under Your Apple Developer Account and click “SUBMIT to App Store”.
    11. Be on the lookout for confirmation of app submission!

Defining Version Information

The information defined here helps users make a decision about whether they will purchase your app so make sure to fill out everything correctly and properly optimize your listing so that it attracts as many users as possible. During this phase, you will:

  1. Provide All Requested Details – If you have followed along with this checklist, this information should be readily available so you don’t have to scramble to gather these details.
  2. Simply refer to the information gathered during Phase 1—Organizing and Compiling App details.
  3. Fill in the Correct Version Number of your app
    (match the number you have in the project info settings of your app)
  4. Fill in All Pricing Details
  5. Save

Submit iOS App for Review and release!

Submit the right app version for the Apple Team to review before it can be released in the Apple Store but before you do that, make sure you choose the type of release you desire for your app and select from the following two release options:

      • Manual Release – After your app is accepted from the Apple App Store, a release button will appear that you will have to manually click on to release your product to the store.
      • Automatic Release – As soon as your application is accepted by Apple’s App Store, it will automatically be released into the App Store.

Wait for final approval, which generally takes around 2-3 weeks for new apps.

Although the main goal of this post is to help avoid app denial from the App Stores, mistakes happen. So if your submission is denied, do not worry! All you have to do is review the notes provided by Apple, which are available in the Resolution Center, and make any necessary adjustments to your app or version details and then resubmit.

Once approved, release your app if you initially selected manual release and wait for the “Ready for Sale” status for your app version (this generally takes 1 hour to 1 day from when your app is approved).

If you are a startup looking for guidance on how to submit an app to the App Store, we hope this guide proves to be helpful. Please be sure to provide comments or any questions you may have and don’t forget to share this post with anyone that might be interested!

by Maciej Cielecki, 10Clouds CEO
  • qian

    If you’ve designed an App using PhoneGap or any other app builder, and need to upload it to the Apple iOS App Store, then you need a Mac to use the Application Loader.

    If you don’t have a Mac, You can use the Appuploader tool, he can help you create iOS certificates and upload IPA to App Store in Windows PC.

    Have a look at their website http://www.applicationloader.net/

    Free trial

    I’ve had no problems with them in the past, and my apps have been successfully upload :).

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