Quick Summary: You have your next-gen mobile app idea ready that will transform your business potential, increase your reach and make you an industry leader in your niche. You also gave your mobile app development project to an iOS development company and got the app ready! Even better. Now you tried to submit an app to the app store, and it got rejected. What now? To successfully launch your iOS app on the Apple Store, you need to understand Apple app store guidelines and follow a practical iOS app store deployment guide to ensure your app gets approved and available on the iOS app store. This is your ideal guide to take your iOS app from the development to the deployment stage efficiently.
There are more than 2.22 million apps available on the Apple Play Store as of today.
You cannot drag and drop your iOS app to the app store, wait for it to get uploaded and publish it when it’s done like some YouTube video. Apple pays more attention to its marketplace than any mobile app market in the competition. So having your app on the iOS app store naturally speaks volumes about your brand’s quality assurance and credibility since the iOS app store guidelines are very particular about which apps get accepted and which apps to reject.
This is not to say that your app needs to be the most innovative or revolutionary to get a spot on the App Store. You just need to play by the rules and follow their guidelines, which will help you further enhance your app’s aesthetics and capabilities.
Good news, it isn’t that difficult to upload an app to the app store too. We will guide you through a simple walkthrough of all considerations to keep in mind during your entire app development process and deployment phase to ensure your app gets approved by the apple store. But, since our aim isn’t just to make it to the app store and thrive on the marketplace for your app to get the best results, we will also briefly discuss some of the post-deployment best practices for your iOS app.
iOS App Checklist – Things to Consider Before Submitting your App to the App Store
Apple wants your app to be approved, and they care enough to provide a basic guideline of common mistakes that often leads to app rejection. Though implementing these guidelines won’t guarantee your app getting selected, it still works as a great checklist to know where your iOS app stands.
Before submitting your iOS app to App Store, ensure that –
- You test your app for bugs and crashes.
- Ensure your app information and metadata is complete and precise.
- Provide all necessary resources like a demo account if your app needs a login to access its contents so that the App Store team can thoroughly check your iOS app.
- Make sure to enable backend services, so your app is live and accessible during the testing phase.
- Have your latest contact information updated so the App Review team can contact you if and when needed.
- If your app has some unique features, provide a short description in App Review notes.
- Ensure your app follows or has been checked against various Apple app guidelines at least once.
Prerequisites to Submit an App to the App Store.
When it comes to uploading an app to the Apple app store, there are some fixed app publishing costs that you will have to pay for; without which you won’t be able to upload your app on the Apple store. Knowing all these costs beforehand is good to prepare your app development budget and finances better accordingly.
1. Check Hardware Requirements
For publishing an iOS app on the App Store, you need a computer running Mac OS X, which has Xcode and Keychain Access installed. You can either purchase an iMac or make use of a virtual machine. Either way, this dependency does add up a lot of costs to submit an iOS app to the app store.
2. Sign up for Apple Developer Program
Cost to set up – Individual/Organization – $99/year | Enterprise – $299/year
Approval Time – upto two weeks
For publishing your iOS app on the App Store, you will first need to have an Apple app development account. The cost of setting up your Apple app developer account is $99/year for an individual or organization. If you represent your enterprise that wants to create a proprietary app that can be distributed among your employees, the fee goes up to $299/year. Once you get done with the payment, you will be welcomed to your Apple App Developer dashboard, where you can create apps, submit apps and track their approval status as well.
Signing up for an Apple Developer Program will give you access to –
- Submit apps to the app store on all Apple platforms.
- Creating safari extensions and have them listed in the extension gallery.
- Beta version of Apple software.
- Advanced app capabilities and app analytics.
Pro Tip: Renew your membership promptly; otherwise, your apps will be removed from the app store.
3. Explore App Store Connect
Once you sign up for Apple Developer Program and get verified, you will access App Store Connect. App Store Connect is Apple’s dashboard for developers to manage and distribute their apps, accept legal agreements, entering tax and banking information, look at the ongoing trends and analyse financial reports. It is your backend dashboard for iOS apps. The person who joins the Apple Developer Program can sign in to App Store Connect quickly. They can also invite additional users by going to the Users and Access Section.
4. Keep App Package Size in Mind
Apple is generous with app package sizes. They allow developers to submit app packages upto 4GB through iTunes Connect. They increased this app size limit from 2GB to 4GB back in February 2015. However, the cellular network delivery size is limited to 100 MB.
5. Ensure Code Signing
Code signing is an essential practise before you submit an iOS app to the app store. It assures users that the app is from a known source and hasn’t been tweaked or modified since it was last signed. Code signing is a prerequisite for your app to integrate any app services, be installed on a device or even submitted to the App Store. You need to have a certificate signed by Apple.
6. Integrate Bundle ID
The bundle ID is the unique identifier for your app that you can register, modify and delete. Having a bundle ID allows your app to connect to third-party services offered by Apple, like In-app purchases and Apple Pay. Hence, if you plan to launch a paid app or think you might want the possibility to change to a paid app or in-app model, you should integrate Bundle ID before submitting an iOS app to the app store.
Important App Information to Gather Before you Submit an App to the App Store.
Now that we have gone through some of the prerequisites that you should be aware of before you submit an iOS app to the app store, we should next focus on the systematic and logical process of uploading an app to app store.
First and foremost, you need to compile all of your app data in one place before moving further with the iOS app deployment process to App Store.
1. App Name
As we already mentioned earlier, App Store is a crowded marketplace. It hosts 2.2 million apps on the App Store. In a sea full of apps like this, it can be challenging to get your app to be discoverable, let alone downloaded. To increase your app’s chances of being discovered, you can start with giving it a good app name (as per App Store). One approach is to use the most relevant keyword to your app on the title. This has a direct impact on App Store’s algorithm.
Apple recommendations for App Name –
- Keep it simple, catchy and easy to understand.
- Should communicate the key purpose of your app.
- Should be upto 30 characters long.
- Not mimic or copy competitor’s name.
- Exclude spam entries like generic terms, celebrity names, and special characters.
The app description comes right under the app name. A short phrase provides additional information about your app. It extends the app description by communicating the value and purpose of your product in greater detail.
Apple recommendations for App Description –
- Should be compelling for users to download your app.
- Limited to 30 characters.
- Don’t spam with phrases like ‘world’s best app’.
- Need to comply with App Store’s metadata rules.
- Don’t mislead/misinform or display inappropriate content.
- Don’t exploit competitor’s app names too.
Icons is the first thing your users see in App Store search results before opening the product page. The importance of icons for an app increases the significance of its aesthetics and visual design.
3.1 Icon Sizes
To submit an iOS app to the app store, you need to ensure to design your app icon in every size as per every different Apple device the app supports. More than that, there are different icon sizes on different pages of the App Store too. The home page displays comparatively smaller icons that are the same size as the app icon when the user downloads and installs the app on their device. However, you will need a large icon on the App Store and App Product Page.
|iPhone||180 px x 180 px|
|iPad Pro||167 px x 167 px|
|iPad, iPad Mini||152 px x 152 px|
|App Store||1024px x 1024 px|
3.2 Icon Attributes
Apple app store has some specific attributes for your icon that you need to comply with for your app to be eligible to be submitted to the App Store –
|Layers||Flattened with no transparency|
|Shape||Square without rounded corners|
App Store Connect needs you to upload atleast one app screenshot so that users get a visual idea about what to expect when they download your app. After that, you can add a maximum of 10 app screenshots. Depending on the orientation of your app screenshots – portrait or landscape, the first three screenshots will be shown on search results if you don’t add an app preview. Hence, Apple suggests using the first three screenshots to use images that convey the app’s purpose and true value. Subsequent images can talk about distinctive features your app has to offer.
Apple recommendations for Screenshots –
- If your app looks different on different devices, provide an individual set of screenshots for each device.
- If your app looks the same on all devices, simply submit screenshots of the high-res required for iPhone(5.5-inch visuals) and iPad(12.9 inches).
5. App Categories
Apple lets you add upto two categories for your app – a primary and a secondary one. Your primary category is most important for being identified and discovered on the App Store. So when users browse the app store or filter search results, this will be the category that your app will appear on.
Apple recommendations for choosing the right Primary Category –
- Your app’s purpose
- Study of existing categories to see which matches your app the most
- When users naturally look for apps like your
6. App Previews
App preview allows users to see what they can expect from an app. Consequently, it allows app publishers to demonstrate the functionality, interface and features of their apps.
Apple recommendations for App Previews –
- Avoid using animated hands gesturing or actual people navigating devices.
- Use footage of the app in use and enhance it with textual/video overlays, graphic elements and narration.
- Make the first few seconds of app preview engaging as app previews autoplay.
- Keep the preview duration between 15-30 seconds.
- The size of the preview can be 500MB at most.
- Upload 1-3 previews for each localization.
- The file format has to be either – tH.264 or ProRes 422.
According to Apple, 65% of all downloads happen after a search.
When you submit your app to the app store, you will notice there is a unique field for iOS apps called ‘Keywords’. Interestingly, Google does not provide a specific segment for keywords. This field is private and won’t show up on your public app store listing. Keywords help the app store’s algorithm understand what your app is about, enabling it to determine which searches to list your app on. Keywords are limited to 100 characters.
Apple recommendations for Keywords –
- Don’t add space after coma as it wastes a character.
- Add spaces between two words of the same keyword if needed.
- Choose keywords based on your audience’s search intent.
- Balance the trade-off for ranking low on popular terms vs. ranking high on less known terms.
- Don’t make unauthorized use of celebrity names, trademarked terms or other protected words and phrases.
- Don’t use words that aren’t relevant to your niche, and avoid using special characters unless they’re an integral part of your brand identity.
8. Support URL
Apple goes the mile extra for its users by making it mandatory for app developers to provide a support URL for users who have any queries regarding the app. Only users that purchase the app can see the support URL on the App Store.
Apple recommendations for Keywords –
- Your support URL should lead to a website that has helpful information regarding your app.
- The users should use this website to raise issues, clear doubts and other such activities.
Apple makes it mandatory for including the name of the owner who owns the exclusive right to the app, preceded by the year they got the rights. For instance – 2012, John Doe, Inc. The copyright symbol is added automatically.
10. Age Rating
When you get to the Age Rating page while submitting your iOS app to the app store, you will be asked some questions about the type of content on your app. Apple uses your answers to determine the age rating for your app.
|iOS Age Ratings||Description|
|4+||No objectionable material.|
|9+||It might have some content unsuitable for children under the age of 9.|
|12+||It might have some content unsuitable for children under the age of 12.|
|17+||It might have some content unsuitable for children under the age of 17.|
How to upload an app to App Store?
1. Make use of Bundle Identifier
The bundle identifier is how App Store and iOS devices see your app name. Bundle Identifier naming convention you need to follow is – com.yourcompanyname.yourappname. To create your bundle identifier, simply follow this process –
How to Create Bundle Identifier?
- Open your browser> Apple’s Developer Portal
- Log in with your Apple Developer Account
- Click Identifiers> Press the “+” in the top right of the screen
- Name your App ID the exact name you give your app
- Ensure to follow the standard Bundle ID naming convention
- Check for any app services needed by the app
3. Get your Certificate Signing Request
Certificate Signing Request is needed to link your computer to your Apple developer account.
How to request certificate signing for iOS?
- On your macOS device, open KeyChain Access>Click Certificate Assistant
- Click Request a Certificate from Certificate Authority
- Fill in the email id field with your apple developer account mail id and the common name with your app name
- Tick the saved to disk button>Click Continue
- Save the Certificate Signing Request for later
4. Issue your App Store Production Certificate
As we discussed earlier Code signing certificate is a mandate required to submit your app to the app store. It links your iOS apps to your Apple developer account. For getting your code signing certificate to follow the process mentioned below –
How to issue your app store production certificate?
- Open your browser> Apple’s Developer Portal>Certificates
- Press the ‘+’ in the top right of the screen
- Go to Production>App Store and Ad Hoc
- Upload the previously obtained Certificate Signing Request
- Download the certificate
- Install the certificate on your computer by double-clicking
- Keep this file in a secured and protected place
5. Get your Production Provisioning Profile
A provisioning profile is a collection of digital entities that ties the devices and developers to a genuine iOS development team and enables the device to be used for app testing.
How to get your Production Provisioning Profile
- Navigate to Apple’s Developer Portal>Login
- Select Provisioning Profiles
- Press the “+” button
- Click App Store Distribution
- Select the Bundle ID you created previously
- Select the certificate you created previously
- Set a Profile Name using the standard naming convention – App Name App Store Distribution
- Click Generate
- Download the Provisioning Profile
- Install it on your desktop
- Keep it in a secure destination
6. Create App Store Listing
Now is the time to use all the app information you gathered before starting the process of submitting an iOS app to the app store. Gather all app-related details and use them to create your app store listing.
App Details for App Store Listing
|App Information||Short Description|
|1||App Name||The users see the name of your app.|
|2||Subtitle/Description||A brief description of your app, highlighting the functionality and features.|
|3||Icons||To be in PNG format and sRGB or P3 format.|
|4||Screenshots||Minimum one screenshot per screen size. The maximum number of screenshots allowed are 10.|
|5||App Categories||Setting primary categories, secondary is optional.|
|6||App Previews||Quick experience for users, so they know what to expect from your app.|
|7||Keywords||Useful for ASO and ranking on App Store.|
|8||Support URL||A mandatory URL that users can use to ask you questions about your app.|
|9||Copyright||Required by Apple to publish app on App Store.|
How to Create App Store Listing
- Open iTunes Connect > Login
- Click My Apps
- Press the “+” icon> “New iOS App”
- Bundle ID – select the one you created on Developer Portal
- Ensure the SKU matches the Bundle ID
- Click and create the first version listing
7. Work on the Release Build with Xcode
Release builds and reduces your overall project size to make your executable file size smaller and faster execution. The compiler doesn’t produce debugging information, hence reducing the overall project size.
How to create Release Build with Xcode?
- Open Xcode
- Open project/application
- Update all the versions and build numbers
- Open the build settings for your app. Ensure to select all settings here
- Scroll down till you see Code Signing, and make use of the provisioning profile with your code signing identity
- Now come back to the top menu and select Generic iOS device as your build destination
- Click “Distribute” and sign in from your official Apple Developer Account to submit your app to the Apple Store
8. Fill your Version Details
How to fill in your version details?
- Enter all your app details in their respective fields
- Select the build that you want to sync with the version
- You can also add pricing details if any
- Save all the details after rechecking them once
9. Submit App to App Store
Now that you are finally done with all the necessary steps for deploying your app to the app store, all you need to do is submit an app to app store and wait for Apple’s official team to review your app.
How to finally submit an app to app store?
- Choose between manual and automatic Release.
- Wait for Apple’s approval or rejection. (2-3 weeks)
- If the app gets rejected, make sure you review the notes in the Resolution Center section and improve on the mentioned points
- Once you are done making the changes, resubmit your iOS app
- If the app gets approved, then we reach the release stage
- Manual Release – You will get a release option from the iOS team
- Your app status will change to ‘Ready for sale’. This can take 1 to 24 hours after the official Release
- Automatic Release – The app will be uploaded on the App Store automatically
Now you are ready to submit your iOS app to the App Store. Make sure to follow all these steps carefully and come back to this guide if you get stuck somewhere in the iOS app submission process.