How to Successfully Submit a Mobile App to iTunes

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Submitting your mobile app to iTunes can become a real nightmare. This article will help you to prepare and avoid mistakes.

You have finished the process of developing an iOS mobile application and are hurrying towards the launch of your mobile app on the Apple store. Very often developers and companies are hurrying up the finishing process due to the deadlines and tight schedule. This can lead to overlooking and possible big mistakes in the process of launching a mobile application to the Apple App Store.

What Problems Might Pop up When Submitting Your iOS Mobile App to Itunes

As an iOS mobile app development company, we are always counting on a few extra days just for the submission of the application. As you might already know, the App store is reviewing each iOS application. If you don’t pass the review, there is a fixing process on which you can lose two or more days.

Every application is reviewed based on:

  • Set of technical criterion
  • Set of content criterion
  • Set of the design criterion

All three of the criteria must meet the Apple standards or else they will be rejected. The point of the review is to ensure all apps are performing as expected, and are reliable.

In the next couple of passages, we will try to sum up all the things to bear in mind when going through your final stages of mobile app development. The checklist can help you to easily pass iTunes review and launch the app.

Checklist for iOS Application Submission

1. Make Sure You Have All the Needed Data

This one sounds really basic and simple, but in the midst of it all, a lot of companies forget to provide the needed data and fail the review. Thus, make sure you provide all the necessary data to pass the review.

The best thing to do is to read the App Store review guidelines thoroughly before even thinking of submitting your application. You can find them at Guidelines review from App store. There is a lot of information and it is easy to skip something. So the advice is to double-check everything!

Unfortunately, mistakes happen even with the double-checking. For example, we had trouble with login info for the Apple reviewer. This is a classic example of an easy mistake to make, especially if you have an application with monthly subscriptions and want to have a clear account to do tests on.

So, you need to make a switch from the development environment to the production environment, before launching the app. Very often developers forget to check if the provided account is still active. Our account wasn’t active because the development test data wasn’t copied.

It happens to even the best of us and sometimes the app doesn’t pass the review even with the correct data.

2. Provided Data Should Be Easy to Find and Understand

Apple can be tricky sometimes. Even if you have an awesome and user-friendly app you still might fail the review.

It is important to give the reviewer easily understandable and clear instructions. Once he or she starts the reviewing process they need to navigate easily and find the important bits that are going to be tested, like buying process, reviewing the legal part of the app or subscribing to services.

The problem we faced was a rejected app due to lack of subscription screen. The application was running perfectly but the reviewer couldn’t find the subscription screen and therefore rejected the application. What we did, was to create a short video detailedly explaining user creation and purchase process and attached it under the notes section. You can do this for every part of the app you consider is more complicated or needs additional instructions. This will assure the review pass for the application.

What is interesting is you can submit a perfectly running mobile application and still get rejected due to silly problems like lack of data or instructions. The good thing is these problems are easily solvable with a few words more in the iTunes Connect.

3. Don’t Ignore the iPad Compatibility Mode When Developing and Testing the Application

This is the tricky part of iTunes, even if you are building an iPhone only app, you still have to make sure the application is working properly on an iPad.

You can find this in Article 2.4 About Hardware compatibility in the guidelines. Companies need to assure the only iPhone application is working properly on iPad in compatibility mode.

Forgetting this part can be really bad for you. If the app gets rejected, you have to invest extra hours in development and quality assurance. This will make you pass the deadline and take a lot of your time but also cost you more.

Unfortunately, we did the same mistake. Actually, we did test it on the iPad, but didn’t test it thoroughly. What happened was that the reviewer tested the application on an old iPad and found that some elements of an app weren’t displayed properly. Of course, we were rejected and needed to invest additional time and money in repairs.

4. All Apple Services Should Be Running Properly

If you think Apple services don’t have anything to do with you, think again. Your app can still be rejected even if the Apple parts are the ones causing problems. Your responsibility is to report any kind of problems and we recommend writing it down in the notes section.

Also, if you encounter bugs or weird problems during the testing phase make sure you first check the status of Apple services. There is a good possibility that your code is fine and the actual problem is with Apple. You can do this by checking system status on the link.

Furthermore, if the problem continues to pop up and you know your app is not to blame, report the problem to Apple through Apple Bug Reporter. By reacting quickly you are solving a future problem and saving valuable time and money.

We had some issues with Apple’s sandbox that wasn’t working properly. Since at the time we didn’t report the problem and raised flags, reviewer rejected our application due to problems with in-app purchases/subscriptions. The fact is they weren’t working due to Apple services and once we pointed this out and explained, the app was approved. Nonetheless, we still lost some time and energy that could have been saved.

Also, we had a problem with a fault in iTunes Connect on a couple of in-app purchases SKUs. This time, we reported this to Apple but didn’t mention it in the notes to the reviewer. Instead, we removed the faulty SKUs from the app to avoid being rejected. The reviewer rejected the application either way. Thankfully after writing an appeal and providing all of the information regarding the problem, our app was approved.

Since Apple is one of the largest companies in the world, you need to have an understanding of their information flow. Not every time is the reviewer going to have all of the information regarding your application and unfortunately, this can result in rejection. So, all you can do regarding this is providing timely information about the faults.

5. Take Your Time for the Review Process

When developing a mobile application, it often happens the deadlines are close and frequently punched through. If you are running late because you invested more time in making sure the app is running smoothly, we recommend the use of Expedited review process. Also, we recommend using this only in critical situations!

Furthermore, since you can’t be sure Apple will accept the request, make sure to have a plan B. Find out more about Expedited review process at App store review – Guidelines. Also, you can log a request for a review here.

6. Remember! It Takes Time for the App to Become Visible in the App Store

Download our Checklist before submitting the iOS app to iTunes 

Once your app gets approved, remember to pick the right time to release the application. It often takes up to 24-hours for the application to become available in the app store. Since there is always much stress put on a meeting deadlines the time for the app to be live is often neglected. It usually takes a few hours but just to be sure, count for 24-hours.

For example, our team had to wait 24-hours for one particular mobile application to become available in the app store. The deadline was met and review approved, but we were still one day late. Thus, take this into consideration when setting your deadlines. Also, if your mobile app is not visible after a few hours, always contact apple to check on why and when is going to go live.

Remember to Follow the Steps!

We recommend following these 6 steps to ensure the shortest and painless application submission to iTunes. By having clear communication with Apple as well as following given guidelines you are saving time, money and energy.

Go easy through the process and get your mobile app approved and launched on time!

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