Bianca always wanted to be a writer - to craft fantastic stories or to be a professor at an Ivy League university. But since life decided that wasn't the path she should take, she yelled "PLOT TWIST" and became a communication professional, having the chance to work with challenging projects. She enjoys it, nonetheless, but still believes there is a huge need for dragons.
You reached the final installment of the creation of your digital product. The UX journey passed flawlessly – the app flows and the user goals were defined. You managed to get through the hot debate, where you pondered if you should choose native mobile development or React Native for your product. Also, for a gaming platform, you can choose Unity or Unreal Engine. The app is now basically done, and all you have to do is to launch it, by submitting it to the app stores.
Since we develop mobile apps for a living, we wanted to share with you, as simple as the process allows us to, how to submit your app on Apple’s App Store.
Before you plan on submitting an app, what you have to do is to test it, review it and test it again, to make sure it is bug-free and functional. Now, let’s see how you can launch your app.
Apple App Store Guidelines
Sometimes rules are made to be broken, but not when it comes up to launching your app on the App Store. You see, Apple is known for having manual reviewers, therefore before you submit your iOS app, we highly recommend that you read the guidelines.
In short, what you need to take into consideration in order to pass the app store review:
- They do respect all points of view presented on the App Store, as long as they do not cross the line. In case you are wondering which one, in their words “I’ll know when I see it”.
- Apple penalizes system cheating – such as tricking the review process, stealing user data, copying other developer’s work or manipulating ratings. If any of these cases happen, your app will be removed.
- You have to make sure everything in the app complies with the guidelines, including ad networks, analytics services and third-party SDKs.
Regarding the last point, we’ll elaborate a bit in the upcoming section. But, all in all, before you do plan to launch, do not avoid reading the guidelines.
Test the app before submitting
Now, you know that everything complies to the Apple Guidelines. Great! But before you embark on the launching journey per se, it’s highly recommended to test your app.
- Design test
Before you submit, have another look at the visual elements of the app. Do the elements, menus, fonts, colors, titles and everything look as you want them to? For guidance, you can always check iOS Human Interface Guidelines. They describe the basic principles for designing a user-friendly interface.
- Usability & Security Testing
Although this usually happens during the production itself, it’s not a bad idea to have a second glance across it – think about it as a last proofreading before submitting.
Look over it to see how simple or hard the navigation is. Put yourself in the shoes of the user and test everything, from scrolling aimlessly to performing a task. You can also ask a friend to look over it, to see if everything works as flawless as it should.
Also, in case your app requires a login, check it twice to see if it’s easy to log in and if you enabled access control for pages, forms, RSS, image feeds. Social login is also an option to add if you missed it beforehand.
Register for Apple developer program
Now that everything is in order, the next step is to create an Apple ID account. After that, you have to enroll in Apple’s Developer Program.
Before we dive in, it’s worth mentioning that the registration in Apple Program is charged on a yearly subscription.
As a private individual or legal entity, you can enroll for $99 per year. If you want to register as a Developer Enterprise – in case you need to publish your apps in-house, the membership will cost $299 per year.
To register as a legal entity or as a Developer Enterprise, all you need is the Apple ID and following details:
- A D-U-N-S® Number
- Legal entity status
- Legal binding authority
- A website.
Set-up your App Store Connect account & Xcode
Next step is to create your App Store Connect account. All you have to do is to go https://developer.apple.com/, access “Account” and log in with the Apple ID you used to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. Or, in case you are part of an organization as a user, you have to be invited by someone in the team.
In case you haven’t download Xcode yet, here are the steps you have to take:
- Add Developer Program account
- Click on “Accounts”. In the bottom left corner of the window, press the “+” sign and then “Add Apple ID…”, where you enter the one you used for Apple Developer Program and sign in.
- Select your team
Now, you launch a new project, and you will have a signing certificate – if you are part of the team. Otherwise, if you choose to build it individually, you will have the term iPhone developer plus your own email address.
You go back to App Store Connect, select “My Apps”, click on the “+” sign and then “New App”.
In order to make a new App Store Connect record, you have to enter these details:
- App name
- Default Language
- Bundle ID – this has to be identical with the one in Xcode, and you have to choose a reverse domain name. It has to start with .com.team.nameproject
- SKU – is not visible to the users, you can use it as an identifier for your company or anything else that matters to you.
Since you can’t change these details later, make sure you are content with the information you enter.
Then, you build your app in Xcode. When it’s done, you choose the current build and you click on “Upload to App Store”.
Create app store listing (Product page optimization)
Now, in iTunes Connect, you pick the “App Information” page, where you can add additional metadata information about your product. These include:
- Name of the app
- Bundle ID (the one from Xcode)
- SKU (the one from Xcode)
- Apple ID – generates automatically
- Primary Language – it’s usually the one that was set from Xcode
- Category – you can choose a primary category and a secondary one
- License agreement
- Rating – in case it’s not suitable for minors
- Apple will ask you to fill a form. Based on your answer, your app will receive its rating.
- Additional information
Next, you go to the version you uploaded. It’s highly recommended to name them on the XYZ principle, where:
- x – big update
- y – smaller update
- z – hot fixes or bug fixes.
Afterward, upload a set of screenshots of the application, so that the user will know what to expect when downloading the app. It’s highly recommended to think about the screenshots as your store’s displays they either convince or not the user. Make sure you choose the ones that represent your app the best and don’t choose the most plain – adding a video is also recommended.
Going to “General App Information” section, you upload your app’s icon, preferably in PNG and 1024px x 1024px. Then, you enter the version number (the XYZ principle), copyright and contact information.
Before you can submit it to review, you have to choose the category and the rating – for the latter, you complete a questionnaire and they will give you the rating. It’s highly recommended for you to be honest. The app can be rejected during the review if it doesn’t match its rating.
Upload your iOS app
You finally reached the almost final phase of your journey. Now, scroll to the “Build” section in your app’s iTunes Connect, then click on “select a build before your submit your app”. Choose the build you uploaded through Xcode, click done and then “submit for review”.
Finally, you have to answer the Export Compliance, Content Rights and Advertising Identifier and to click “submit”. Now, your app status should be “waiting for review”
Submit your app for review
The app will be reviewed manually, so it usually lasts between 1 and 5 days. Since it’s going to be made by real humans, you have to provide signing in data for Apple, in case your app requires a login.
To make sure the review goes as smoothly as you wish and if you believe the app is a bit difficult to use, you can write notes where you can guide them on how to test the application. Also, you can add a personal contact to reach if they stumble upon something.
Manual or Phased release for your iOS app
There are three app status indicators that let you know if your app needs your attention.
- A red status indicator means that you have to perform some type of action before the app can be available on the App Store;
- A yellow status indicator lets you know that there is some ongoing process;
- A green status indicator signifies that your app is ready for sale.
For several details of each indicator and status, visit App Store Connect.
If everything is well and you get the green light from Apple, you have two choices when it comes to publishing your app on store: scheduling a date and an hour beforehand – automatic release or you can release it manually, from your App Store Connect dashboard.
Now, this is a rough guide on how to submit your application on the App Store.
Read our next article, on how to submit an Android app on Google Play!
Plan to develop your next top-notch digital product?