After creating your mobile product in cooperation with your digital partner, you probably wait impatiently for it to be available in App Store. However, Apple’s ecosystem is very peculiar and knowing certain mechanisms and methods may save you lot of time and nerves.
As we have assisted many proud clients in that process, we wanted to share our experience with you and give you some tips and tricks for going through app review and making sure your product will get well-deserved exposure, so that users will find it easily.
I. User roles
Let’s begin with the user roles that determine which tasks you can perform in App Store Connect, platform that allows to upload, submit, and manage applications.
Basically, every person involved into submitting an app into the App Store has a function that is associated with specific tasks and constraints.
We have Admin, Legal (Team Agent), Finance, App Manager, Developer, Marketer, Sales, Customer Support and Reports. The last one isn’t assigned, but belongs to Admin and Legal by default.
Talking on our behalf, it’s always the client who holds an Admin role. He is also the one managing role distribution between project members, which usually depends on company’s policy. The most important thing to remember here is that you have to be at least an App Manager to submit an app and its new versions.
II. Adding new app in App Store Connect
Actually, adding your product to the App Store can be quite exciting. If you spent months carefully establishing your idea, and then watch it become a clickable solution, you most probably enjoy talking about it. Well, App Store is there to listen.
You begin with:
In most cases it will be iOS - unless your product was created for Apple TV, then you choose the tvOS platform.
The official name of your app as it will appear in the App Store.
This should be set to the language used in your app - if your project is in your native language, it should be selected here.
A unique identifier for your app that is only used in reports.
Here you should select the ID that uniquely identifies your application. Usually you use reverse domain name notation for choosing an application's bundle identifier. Once it has been selected, you will be unable to change it for this app.
After approving entered data, you will be able to add more information about your product. However, you want to submit a whole application, not just an empty shell with a fancy description - that’s why now the chosen member of your development team will submit a build.
III. Submitting a build
First of all: what even is a build? It’s a pre-release version and as such is identified by a build number, rather than by a release number. Before official version release, developers may work on multiple builds.
You don’t have to worry about submitting a build - your developers will do it for you - but important thing to remember here is that the processing will take a while. A singular build issued for iTunes Connect testing needs a dozen minutes to half an hour to be accepted.
Your developers will submit the build using XCode or Application Loader, but your field of interests narrows down to iTunes Connect.
Obviously, the build has to be fully processed to be submitted. However, in the meantime, you can safely enter the rest of information needed. Let’s talk about the views first.
Picture is worth a thousand words. No description will catch your user’s attention better than alluring screenshots of your product. They allow users to get familiar with your product and decide whether they are interested in it or not. Their attractiveness often determines the answer. You can read more about great screenshots for App Store here.
Talking on our behalf, we always make sure that screenshots we provide for our projects are suited for success - we make sure they not only show app’s core functionalities, but also highlight product’s best sides.
- You can add five screenshots in total and in most cases its best to add as many as the App Store allows.
- You submit them for a 5.5 inch display by default, so the screenshot size equals 1242px × 2208px.
- Required pixel density equals 72 dpi and the file format should be PNG or high quality JPEG.
- You can also add screenshots dedicated for iPhone X display (5.8 inches, so 2436px × 1125px, doesn’t have a frame around a screen), but it is not necessary. The only mandatory size is 5.5 inches and App Store will calibrate the views for every other screen size. Depending on user’s device screen size, he or she will see screenshots calibrated for his smartphone.
V. App description & other information
Now you can add all the additional data that will allow your users to get to know the product better.
It it supposed to be engaging, yet short and informative. The best practice is to begin with highlight of application’s main function, followed by short list of its features.
Remember to use a tone of writing tailored to the overall image of your company and use terminology your potential users are familiar with. Take a moment to think-through to whom you target your product to and match your style of writing to the way your recipients communicate.
Once you submit a new version of your application, you will be allowed to update your description.
Things to leave behind while writing a description? Definitely unnecessarily added keywords - they won’t improve search results, the place for keywords is somewhere else. Also, don’t talk about pricing here, there is also a whole separate section just for that.
Those are the words that help to find your app in the store. They are limited to 100 characters in total.
Important thing to remember: improper use of keywords is a common reason why app can not make it through a review. Avoid using unauthorized use of trademarked terms and other protected words and phrases, terms that are not relevant to the app, competing app names, as well as any offensive or vulgar words.
To maximize the use of keywords, avoid plural forms of words you have already used and duplicating words in general. Also - you are in App Store, the word “app” won’t be necessary.
It’s a link to a page that belongs to the developer. It allows users to get in touch with the app creator if they experience problems or have any questions about the application.
It’s a link to a page dedicated to marketing activities of the app - speaking shortly, your product’s web page.
It’s an information about who holds the legal rights to the app. You should also include contact details, in case someone needs to contact you about legal issues.
It has to make a strong first impression. It’s the first thing your potential users will see, so it has to visually represent your product.
Designers from your team will do their best to create a perfect icon for you - and as for its technical side, it has to have sizing of 1024px × 1024px, RGB color space and can’t contain the alpha channel (which allows pictures to have transparency property)
The number of app’s official releases. If you submit the first version of your product, it will be 1.0 for now.
Age restrictions for your app’s usage. You have to answer a few questions regarding application’s content (violence, nudity, gambling, etc) in order to define whether your product is allowed for young and sensitive audience or not.
Be sure to select a primary category that best describes the main function of your app. Remember - primary category determines your product’s visibility.
VI. Going through the app review
Every single app submitted to App Store is being manually checked and reviewed by a dedicated person. Yes, you have read it correctly - every single app out of around 2 millions that are currently available in the App Store. That’s impressive, you have to confess.
Why am I telling you this? Well, information you will add now will be addressed directly to your reviewer. So it’s very important to treat that section seriously, as it is in your best interest to go through a review as quickly and easily as possible.
- Contact information
It’s there for the reviewer to be able to contact the person responsible for app development in case of any troubles or misunderstandings. Typically, it is the person that has been given the Team Agent role in your organization. All fields are required to be filled.
Very important and often underestimated! You can add here any notes for the reviewer, for example explain or draw attention to some elements of the app. It builds trust and decreases the chance of rejection.
If your app requires creating an account and logging in, here you should include login data. This is the user account that reviewer will use to log into the app and check its functionality and viability for the App Store.
Here you determine whether you want your app to be released right after being accepted by a reviewer, or if you would prefer to do it manually. By default it’s being released as soon as possible (“Automatically release this version”), but you can make it available from a certain date, or choose to do it entirely by yourself.
If this is the first version of your application, you leave it blank - however, when you update your product, it’s best to inform your users what was updated and why.
What else you should know about the review process?
Once again: every single app is reviewed by a dedicated person, so it can take a few days. Here you can find a website that will show you current estimated time, based on recent reviews.
Review time depend on how complicated your product is, how many functionalities it has and how many things reviewer has to check. Keep that in mind.
Reviewer’s opinion isn’t final and irrevocable. You can always appeal against his or her decision and even arrange a phone call to discuss it.
Notes for reviewer can be a make-or-brake! Sometimes the problem app reviewer encounter can be trivial and can be easily explained. Here is an example from our experience: one of our projects included recording a video, but it was supposed to work in landscape view, so when reviewer tried to test that functionality with phone laying on the desk, gyroscope didn’t react and video couldn’t be recorded. Reviewer thought the app was damaged, while it wasn’t and the situation could be easily prevented by adding the explanation in the Notes field.
Reviewer does not only check the smoothness of operation of your product, but also if it contains any inadequate or offensive content. So it’s important to be honest when choosing the app’s rating.
VII. Pricing and availability
Lastly, you have to choose whether you want your app to be available for free, or to charge money. In order to do that, you choose the pricing tier (you can read more about pricing tiers here) and it will be automatically converted into your currency.
Then you have to choose the availability option - you can give a discount for educational institutions or choose app to be available only privately - and finally, you are all set and done.
Now you only have to click “Save” and then “Submit for review” - and wait for your beloved product to hit the shelves of the App Store.