How To Publish an App to the AppStore and Avoid Costly Delays

How to Publish an App to the AppStore

One of the most common challenges we hear from new customers developing an iOS app is how they’ve had trouble publishing their app to the AppStore. They’ve invested in both a team of developers and a project manager that are focused on meeting a release date.  They “complete” the code, test, and submit their app for official review. The code is submitted in time to make their release deadline, but when the app is denied in the review process they miss their target release date.  They have to identify and remediate the issues which takes more time and more money, and they have to communicate the late release to investors and other stakeholders. These delays cause stress and cost money, and they are completely avoidable.  

It’s not uncommon for app teams, even with experienced iOS developers, to have trouble passing the review process of the AppStore. We’ve developed dozens of mobile apps over the last few years, and we’ve learned the important pieces necessary to receive approval from the AppStore, and the stuff that will guarantee rejection.  We’ve learned what to look for in the code to what functionality and documentation are needed for a successful review. The goal of this article is to provide guidance on what to look for on your own projects and ensure your apps are published without a delay.

Apple’s App Store Guidelines

Apple has a strong developer program with relatively clear guidance on app development.  Their guidelines start with a simple statement.

The guiding principle of the App Store is simple – we want to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful.

The guidelines are clear, and categorized into five sections: Safety, Performance, Business, Design, and Legal.   While the full list of guidelines are quite detailed, they’ve made a point to clearly state an overall framework/belief system in how they approach app reviews.

  • Kids are an important part of the AppStore community, and while Apple provides parental controls, they also put the responsibility of appropriate content on app developers.
  • Apple states that they support all points of view as long as they are respectful to other users.
  • Apple will remove your app and expel you from their Developer Program if you attempt to cheat the system.  That might include tricking the review process, stealing user data, copying others work, or manipulating ratings.

Fun fact – 40% of app rejections are due to Guideline 2.1 App Completeness. Make sure that apps submitted for App Review are final versions.  All necessary metadata, fully functional URL’S, placeholder text, empty websites, and temporary content should be resolved before submitting to the AppStore.

You can find a full list of App Store Review Guidelines.

Testing for Bugs and Crashes

A good mobile development team will go through a thorough testing process looking for bugs and crashes.  Even the best developers have bugs, and they can only be found with thorough testing. It’s important that you test your app on devices running the latest software and fix all bugs before submitting. But that’s development 101.  We’ve found that teams are often tripped up on mobile development because of the myriad of iOS devices. iPhones, iPads, and iPods have so many screen sizes, and so many versions that it’s important to test each. While iOS simulators help to testing the variations, they aren’t perfect.  It’s always best to test on an actual device if you can. Another common issue that causes your app to be rejected is broken links. Apple requires that every link in your app be functional including user support with contact information and a link to your privacy policy. Irrelevant content is another major cause of  reject. Your app will be rejected if your have placeholder images and text. It should be no surprise that Apple places importance on a good UI. Their UI Design Dos and Don’ts provides guidance for your design.  The goal is to ensure that every app in the AppStore is clear and user friendly.  Apple provides guidance on avoiding common app rejections.

Submitting for Official Review

Your app will be reviewed by the Apple team before it is released.  In a future article we’ll provide detail on setting up you Signing and Team information in Xcode.  The Apple team reviews to ensure that your app meets all of the guidelines including safety, performance, business, design, and legal.  

Many apps receive approval (or rejection) within 24 hours, and a majority within 48 hours.  While this is a relatively quick turnaround, the real delays are the time that it takes to identify and remediate rejection issues.  Apple provides communication to help you understand the issues that led to rejection.

Once approved, you’ll have the option to release your app manually or automatically.  At that point, it’s time to celebrate…for a bit, and then get back into your development cycle.

We help our customers to launch mobile apps on both iOS and Android. We’re a mobile development company that specializes in React Native.  If you are looking for help publishing your app to the AppStore, or just thinking about a mobile project, we can provide the guidance to meet your goals.   We want to learn more about your project, so we invite you to reach out to schedule a discussion this week.

Publishing to the app store isn’t hard, as long as you understand the process and plan for it from the beginning of your project.  Whether it’s your first app, or your an experienced development team, publishing to the AppStore can be a significant cause of stress.  If you understand the AppStore Guidelines, thoroughly test your app to meet the AppStore standards, and address issues in the approval process you will have a successful release.

About Us

Parsed is a mobile development company that specializes in React and React Native.  We build mobile applications, augment in-house teams with React expertise, and we help companies to staff great React developers. We are a team of passionate developers, project managers, and designers that help companies to release apps on both iOS and Android.