9 Tips to Help You Navigate the App Store Review Process

Apple App Store on iOS is the most trusted and the only space to discover over 2 million applications for all iOS users across devices. So how do you get your app approved for this platform?

In 2017, Apple App Store downloads reached a record number of a mind-blowing 180 billion! This was achieved in less than nine years of launching the App Store. It continues to rise at a rapid pace even today. In February 2021 alone, over 29 thousand apps were published on the Apple App Store. 

This is a fiercely competitive battleground, where over 40% of apps face rejection. Therefore, your app needs to be unique, simple, well designed and optimised. 

Over the years, our team of iOS developers has launched multiple apps for MNCs, startup’s and businesses. This is our way of saying that we’ve learned the importance of having a best practice guide, the hard way. So, we wanted to put together these tips to help you with the process.

There is no real cheat sheet to help you get past the review process. However, over the years we have gained experience in launching multiple apps on the App Store. In addition to this, we have won multiple App of the Day awards and features for the same. Therefore, we wanted to share some advice that could help you navigate the review process.

These are some basics that your app needs to get right for a smoother Apple App Store Review process. Beyond the basics, too, there is a list of other things that you need to get ticked off before you send in your application for a review. Let’s take a look at them. 

1. Make Sure You Follow App Store Review Guidelines

Apple is a stickler for rules and regulations. They have has strict guidelines in place when it comes to publishing apps. Some of these include safety, design, performance, legal requirements and the overall business model of the app. To ensure the fast track and ease of the approval process, a proper evaluation of your app is necessary. 

As mentioned earlier, Apple rejects 40% of the apps submitted to them. This is due to issues like poor performance, bugs, and frequent crashes. All developers need to thus follow Apple’s strict and comprehensive guidelines before and after the submission. Apple periodically publishes data on this topic to keep potential applicants updated. Use these guidelines as a good thing because following them will provide the best experience for your users

Over 40% of apps face rejection because of one criterion termed “App Completeness”. Under this criterion, apps with placeholder texts, lack of proper metadata and URLs, technical problems and empty websites face rejection. 

2. Ensure A Thorough Quality Assurance (QA) Of Your App On All Supported Devices 

Quality of products has always preceded every other criterion for Apple. As explained by CNBC, Apple’s innovative and quality-based approach towards product development revolutionised the world. Apple expects the same high-quality from apps to be published on the Apple App Store. So the answer here is to Test, Test and Test!

Test with both your developers and in-house testers. But ensure that you have your app tested with your beta group as well. The great thing is that Apple already has an excellent build testing tool to aid with the testing process!

TestFlight is an excellent service offered by Apple for app developers to test their applications. With both internal and external users who can share their feedback with developers quickly. Furthermore, crash logging tools like Crashlytics and Sentry help with exception tracking early on. This allows your business to optimise applications by getting various insights on crash reports or bugs. This is apart from any other feedback your internal or external test users may want to provide. 

3. Ensure The Metadata Accuracy Of Your App 

Apple’s review team uses your app’s metadata as part of its review process. Provided by your app, this data essentially includes app description, screenshots, keywords, and any modifications that you may have added in the newer versions of the app for future updates. This updated data is showcased using appropriate titles, screenshots, detailed descriptions and newly added privacy labels. 

According to the guidelines issued by the Apple App Store, this data may also need to be updated from time to time. Even on an ongoing basis, keeping this data optimised using appropriate keywords and phrases will also improve the position of your app in the store listing and search results.

4. Ensure Your App Policies Are Correctly In Place

To Apple, transparency on data collection and utilisation, payments and general user data is key. They are incredibly particular about the ethical standards maintained while forming the app. As a result, ensure your app provides all information on the data collected, functionality and policies to both the user and the review team transparently. Any unethical policies or functionalities that breach the guidelines can result in the rejection of the app.

5. Thoroughly Test The “In-App Purchases” Aspect Of Your App 

 

 

In-App Purchases are a great way for you to offer your customers some extra content and features within your application. The user can use this to unlock premium features, services, and buy items on sale via the App Store. The tool also allows your business and developers to bring in additional revenue. You can use these transactions to update and maintain the application. Note that Apple takes a small commission on the transactions made under the In-App Purchases.

Apple has put several tools to test out the implementation of the In-App Purchases within your application. These tools essentially allow you to test In-App purchases through different platforms, including the Apple App Store, Xcode and the App Store Connect. Under a unique Sandbox Environment, you can test your app’s entire In-App Purchases transaction, from simple one time purchases to auto-renewal subscription models, besides other types and forms of transactions.

6. Ensure To Upload Accurate Screenshots 

Screenshots of your app in the store are an excellent way for users to understand its functionality and features. The review team at the Apple App Store use these screenshots to know more about the App and verify if it adheres to their pre-defined guidelines. More importantly, the screenshots should communicate the app’s value to users. 

Note that you need to provide proper screenshots of your app in action, displaying the app’s functionality, design, and features. The review team ensures that the screenshots show the actual application and are not infringing any copyrights or using illegal images or keywords.

Other tips to keep in mind are:

  1. Ensure you upload all the applicable screenshot sizes. Refer to this article for the sizing guide. 
  2. If your screenshots include images of devices, ensure those correct devices are used. Non-Apple devices are a big no-no. Further, ensure that screenshot for iPhones and iPads, if needed, include the correct generation devices.
  3. Do not use logos of any third parties unless you have the right to do so and provide the required documentation to support such rights.
  4. Do not use any dummy or placeholder text in your screenshots (or app, for that matter)

7. Reviews Take Time, So Be Patient

According to a study by Fortune, back in 2016, a typical review and approval process by the Apple App store lasted for a full 14 days. In recent times, however, it has decreased to an average of 2 days. According to Apple, over 50% of the apps are reviewed in the first 24 hours of submission.

The process is extensive where the review team takes a close look at the application. Most importantly, you must remain patient while waiting for this process to end and for your app to be handed its result. The key is to design an app that adheres to ALL the guidelines, besides submitting correct and helpful information.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the initial review of an app takes longer than subsequent reviews. So be patient and answer any queries raised by the review team.

8. If Your App Faces Rejection, Don’t Be Afraid To Strike A Conversation With The Review Team

In a store where thousands of apps are published monthly, 40% of this lot are rejected. Even though the numbers are discouraging, you can always make a strong comeback by fixing the app and submitting an improved version that ticks all the boxes.

The Apple App Store review team gives out well detailed subjective reasons for the rejection of your app. As a developer, you are free to communicate or appeal to the review team if you feel the rejection isn’t justified. Providing additional information to the review team can help in cleaning up any rejections on your app.

9. Iterate And Fix Issues With Your App

Improvement is the key to app development. The betterment of your application is necessary and crucial for its survival amongst the others on the platform. Apple rejects applications the instant they hit a bug. Therefore, ensure your apps are clean and bug-free. As a developer, review your app thoroughly, fixing and rectifying all issues and bugs encountered during the process.

Moreover, eradicating issues that led to the app’s rejection in the first place is a must. Re-evaluate the application to check if it adheres to the guidelines going as far as re-building the same if necessary. Submit a new and improved app for review post the rectification process. 

Conclusion

The number of Apple App Store downloads are climbing up a notch every day. Give your application a chance to be published on the world’s most trusted software application store. Designing and publishing can be a difficult feat to achieve, even with the steps listed above. Our team here at Catalyst Media possess the technical knowledge and expertise to do just that. 

We hope you enjoyed the insights! Did this post successfully explore the essential tips for publishing Apps on the Apple App Store? If you feel we missed anything, let us know in the comments.

Get in touch with us for any mobile app development needs!