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How To Get The App Store To Approve Your App?

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on February 27th, 2022 10:51 am

App Builder Appy Pie, January 2: The Apple App Store is probably one of the best marketplaces for everyone engaged in the mobile app industry. But it is also one of the toughest marketplaces to enter and to get recognition from a developer’s perspective. Developers have been known to have a fear of getting rejected by the App Store lurking in their minds till the very last moment.

In our previous post we have discussed and detailed out the process of submitting an app on the Apple’s App Store, but in this one, we are going to go a step further and tell you how you can avoid rejection and improve your chances of getting your app approved in the first go!

All your work on the iPhone or iPad app that you had been developing is reviewed by Apple’s testers, and only when your app satisfies all the rules and guidelines does it get the approval.

Approval process & timelines

It is quite common for developers to consider or even remember about the App Store submission more like an afterthought and it can prove to be one of the most fatal errors as it has the ability to throw off the schedule of the whole project. The process of app submission to the app store needs to be planned well, and accounted for just like any other phase or process of the project.

In the worst of scenarios, the approval time has been known to exceed 4-6 weeks and in these cases, you might end up missing out on deadlines and waste time & other resources including money. There is no known way which can ensure that the time involved in the approval be cut down, but there are certain things that you might do to ensure that your app gets the approval in the very first time.

1. Study earlier case histories & learn from others’ mistakes

Just like almost any other thing, this too begins with a lot of research. Delve deep into case histories where the apps were rejected and look deeply into the reasons why these apps failed to get their approval. Once you know the reasons why others have failed, you would have a list of things ‘not’ to do. Make sure that you avoid these pitfalls that others fell in, and you would automatically rise above the rest and get the app approved. This data is not too difficult to find, as Apple publishes the biggest reasons apps get rejected. When you have a list of the top reasons for rejection, you have a clear idea about the guidelines as well and you can then ensure that your app meets these criteria and have the best chances of approval.

2. Simplify as much as you can

One of the most effective things to do is to keep things simple. Offer the most basic functions and stay away from all the frills when you are submitting your app for the first time. The initial app submission is what takes the longest and is one of the toughest phases. Once your app is approved and makes its way to the App Store, then future app updates are a lot easier to manage. It is a good idea to keep all the advanced features reserved for the later releases. The idea here is to build your minimum viable product first, and make adjustments later based on the feedback you receive for your app.

3. Stand out with fresh content & unique approach

To come up with a truly unique or original idea is not really as simple as it sounds. For every app idea there must be at least one app on the App Store. If your app performs the same function as any of the other apps on the App Store, it is more likely to be rejected. Take serious effort in creating something that is truly unique and does what no other app on the app store can possibly accomplish. Even the apps that only a little different from the existing ones on the App Store may end up taking a long time in getting the approval.

4. Avoid mentioning any other platforms

We are glad that you have built an app that runs on other popular platforms like Android and Windows, but you don’t have to mention it while submitting your app on the Apple App Store. Any mention of a perceived competitor or any other player in the same or similar field, may lead to your app getting rejected faster than you’d think!

5. Furnish all the possible details

The app description is more than just a column in the form. This description is what your users and the Apple review team would read before doing anything else to get a sense of what is it that your app is going to be doing. If you have a description that gives a complete, precise, and detailed description of the app then the chances of your app succeeding in the review process are higher. Some of the top-rated apps are known to provide detailed description of exactly what they do and add some glittering testimonials to add more ingenuity to the app.

This is something, you, as a newbie should do as well. When your app description is compelling in making your app stand apart from the rest of the crowd, you actually stand a brighter chance in getting approved. Take this as an opportunity to let everyone know how your app is different from everyone and everything else. Take this process of formulating the description seriously. Write, ask other for a feedback and views, incorporate, and write again. Repeat the whole cycle again and again till you reach a satisfactory description.

Apart from the description the following details also need to be furnished at your end:

  • Your name, contact number, email ID or any other details
  • APIs that you have used and their description.
  • Have any images or icons been used in the app and were any of these used in other apps?
  • Any external website links and their description wherever needed.

6. Keep testing for bugs & put a proper process of Quality Assurance in place

Irrespective of the kind of app you are planning to build, you are going to have to run repeat tests in order to make sure that everything runs ok. You as a developer should, of course conduct the tests yourself, but Apple also provides its own set of technology and features to go further than mere tests on your own devices. TestFlight is a great way to help others test your app, and is a great way to run tests on your app before launch.

What you must do is, use your app everyday before it is ready to be deployed. There would be a time when you would want to use it, and that is when you must know that the app is ready to be launched.

7. Don’t send Betas for approval

You are planning to submit an app to the Apple Store and it goes without saying that the marketplace has some stringent standards, not only at the reviewers’ end but also at the users’ end. If the app you are submitting is incomplete in any way, or has any kind of language that suggests that it is a beta version, there is no way you are going to get an approval.

8. Keep it all organized before you go for submission

You can’t possibly think that submitting your app on the Apple App Store is going to be an extempore at your end. It is important to be organized. Get all the necessary information together about the Apple App Store that you might need even before you begin, make sure that you have a valid Apple developer’s account and a computer that runs OS X. apart from this ensure that you have Xcode and Keychain Access installed on your computer. Now before you begin the process of submission, make sure that your app meets all the Apple App Store Guidelines.

9. Understand the cross-platform limitations

While you might be smart enough in utilising some cross-platform development tools, do not ignore the fact that there can be some issues that might crop up during your submission. In such cases, unlike the native apps there can be an impact on the app’s performance or even on the UI/UX which might prove to become the grounds for rejection. Though the cross-platform tools are not really against the app store guidelines but the decision to approve or reject varies from case to case. There are some tools, however, that have proven to be more successful in getting approved than the others. It is prudent to conduct a research first, before opting for such tools.

10. Adhere to every little Apple’s App Store Directive

This is the single most important point in this entire list! Treat the directives or guidelines from the Apple App Store as your gospel and do not deviate from it under any circumstances. One good thing here is that the App Store is very crisp and clear about their guidelines leaving no space for misinterpretation. However, a cursory glance at the guidelines is not going to be enough. Take a deep long look into it, and then evaluate your app against them before going ahead with the submission. Whether it is the technical guidelines or the design part of your app, make sure that you stick to each and every aspect with as much precision as possible. Apple has guidelines even for your icons. Apart from this you need to consider how the app is going to be displayed on other iOS devices especially the new iPhone X. The screen dimensions for iPhone X is different from any other iPhone and it is important that the app you submit meets the requirements in order to avert rejection. If you spend a great deal of time looking into and studying the directives and guidelines, then the chances of you getting your approval also gets multiplied.

11. Be kind & polite while dealing with members of the review team

The review process can be a little frustrating for you and you might end up getting frustrated or disappointed at various levels. The judgement about your approval is going to be a subjective one, and your attitude could make a lot of difference – positive & negative. Be kind and polite with everyone that you interact with from the reviewers’ end. Act in a way that everyone could have a say in you getting an approval for your app. And a good attitude never hurt anyone, you have no way of knowing what influence the person you are speaking with, carries.

12. Innovate but try and stay within the boundaries of similar apps

It’s true that Apple likes to see original, unique content in your apps, that would bring in fresh content to the Apple App Store. However, they also like to play it a little safe. In case you want to expedite the process of approval, try and follow the general outlines of the apps that are similar to you and have gotten approved before yours.

Begin first by looking at the apps that are already there on the app store in your genre. Conduct a deep analysis of their features, graphics, layout, and other design elements that they incorporate and their App Store descriptions. Conduct a quick comparative study between what exists and your own app.

Innovate in terms of the features and services you are going to offer with your app, but make sure that you are in tune with the general practices and trends that others are adhering to and include some kind of a familiarity.

13. Stay high on patience after you submit your app.

You might think that it’s all over, once you have submitted your app. Though you are not entirely wrong in thinking so, but there is one of the most important and most difficult things yet to do – wait. The entire review process can take a really long time. Way back, it would take nearly a whole month to get the approval. Thankfully, things have changed for the better in the recent years. As per the latest data, the average time taken per approval has come down to two days.

This two-day time period, however is an average, most of the apps do not take that long and are approved in a matter of hours. There are some outliers who pull the average down to as long as two days. It is impossible to know beforehand, whether your app is going to be approved in a few hours or it’s going to take weeks. All you can do at this point in time is be patient and wait.

14. If at first you don’t succeed, re-evaluate, fix bugs and re-submit

There are times when even after doing everything right, testing and fixing all the bugs, and great design, the app gets rejected by the reviewers. It is disappointing, but it’s important not to be discouraged and look for ways to get back in the game. There is not a single developer who has not faced this problem. The trick is in knowing that you can fix it and come back stronger.

Once your app has been rejected, pore down on it and focus on the reasons why it happened! Pay attention to the specific reasons that have been mentioned as grounds for rejection. Fix the bugs or issues, rectify any other problems that you might encounter while making the changes. Apple might have stopped at the first bug they hit and rejected the app, there might be more bugs lurking around. If you still face issues, Appy Pie is always there to help!

Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

App Builder

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