A Guide to App Store Approval

So, you’ve spent the last two months slaving away building your app, perfecting the UI, bug chasing and avoiding the dreaded monster of feature creep. Finally, it’s ready, and with high hopes you submit it to the iOS app store, only for it to fail to get App Store Approval.

“What the heck?” you ask in frustration.
It was a sure thing, you were certain of it, why would it be rejected?
Apple do send out detailed rejection mails, explaining why your app was rejected, but with it taking 1-4 weeks to get a reply, wouldn’t you rather avoid that time spent twiddling your thumbs?
With that in mind, Kumulos, your ever helpful mobile Backend as a Service provider, have put together a short list of the most common rejection reasons and ways to avoid them.

1. You didn’t follow the rules

Apple has, somewhat infamously now, a large list of rules for App Developers to follow if they want their app approved for the store. Some of the rules might seem arbitrary or weird, but if you break them you’ll be kicked out faster than a dog that just farted in bed.
These rules include, but are not limited to:

·         Correctly spelling technical jargon

·         Having an icon that matches Apple’s aesthetics

·         Never use any “violent” language to describe your app or what it does

·         Don’t use unpublished APIs

The full rulebook can be found at: https://developer.apple.com/appstore/resources/approval/guidelines.html

2.   Your app didn’t work

With the aforementioned publishing of the approval rules, most apps are now rejected on technical grounds. Most of these are coming from bugs, glitches and general breaks in the app, so it’s up to you as the developer to make absolutely sure that what you’re submitting works.

Test, test, and test again. Test it until you hate the sight of it, then test it some more. Try to find every single bug and stamp it out. Also, make sure that when you’re submitting, you’re submitting the correct version number, so the reviewer is getting the finalized version of your app rather than a barely working beta.

Xcode’s most recent release has a “Fix It” option, that can go through and take out many little niggles that could damage your chances of being approved.

3.   You didn’t provide enough or the correct details

When sending your app for approval, you should always fill out every piece of information as accurately as and completely as you can.
Most importantly you should include:

·         Full name and contact details (including email id and phone/mobile number)

·         Whether icons and images are used, and if so if they appear in any other apps

·         What APIs are used along with a description of them, including a link to the API’s terms of service can also be useful

·         If your app links to any external sites, be sure to include descriptions of what the websites are about, especially if they have names that sound “suspicious”, for example anything including “hacker” or “pirate”.

4.   You tried to go too complex

Submitting a very complex app with multiple features and functions is only hampering your chances of approval by increasing the things that can go wrong.

Instead, for your first time approval, submit a simple version of your app that shows the core concept in action and that works well. Once you’ve been approved, it’s easy to update your app with new features and the update approval service only takes days, not weeks.

That said, don’t go too simple otherwise you risk being rejected for having a pointless app.

5.   Your idea has been done before, and better

To make an obvious example, if your app is designed to let users place interesting filters on pictures they’ve taken and then to upload them, Instagram already holds that title and you’re unlikely to make a mark on its lead.
It’s the core of good app design, but it’s worth saying again, make sure your idea for an app is actually a good one and that it’s not going to a saturated market. Find a niche for your app that’s not too heavily populated and try to find a unique angle on what your app does and why it’s different to the other apps out there.

6.   You weren’t polite

It may sound a little strange to be rejected because you weren’t polite, and it’s not usually just that that will net you a rejection. Being short, or even rude, is going to make the reviewer unlikely to be positive about your app, and they’re likely to make sure to find any negatives they can to deny approval because, well, you were a dick to them.
Remember that these reviewers are human beings and are going through hundreds or even thousands of app submissions on a regular basis. A little politeness and remembering that they’re people too could make the difference between acceptance and rejection. You know what they say, a little courtesy goes a long way.

Well there you have it folks, follow these guidelines and you’re very likely to have an approved app sitting in the App Store. Remember to be patient with submissions as they can take up to a month to go through, and if you are rejected, take it in good stead, work out the kinks and get back into the game.
If your app’s already launched but you want to add some new features that need, say a database to access, why not sign up for free and get started making the next big improvement to your app?