QAOps Blog

How to get your app approved by the App Store

The hard work has been done. The endless hours of lessons and practice have been leading up to this moment. You’re taking your driving test.

You have already bought a car. You have even made plans for your first road trip. All you need to do now is pass.

To do that, you have to stay within the constraints of the driving test rules. If you fall outside of this scope and make any errors, you will probably fail. Will you drive in the same way once you pass? Probably not. But the sole purpose of the driving test is to achieve one thing. Pass.

How to get your app approved by the App Store

 

Submitting your app to the App Store is a lot like a driving test.


You commit many hours to developing, designing and testing a great app. You fix every known bug and ensure the design works perfectly on every device you test. But if you make a costly error, your app will get rejected.


You can take comfort in knowing that every developer has faced an app rejection. Nonetheless, it can be hugely frustrating and disheartening. Initially, you should carefully review the reasons for the rejection and fix any obvious problems.


Remember, once the App Review system or the reviewer sees a reason to reject your app, they may not look at the rest of it. That means there may still be unknown bugs that need fixing.


So how do you become more proactive and less reactive by avoiding an app rejection altogether?

 

Top 3 App Store rejection reasons

Firstly, let’s take a quick look at the top three reasons why apps are rejected. Don’t make the same mistake other developers do!

 

1.  App Incompleteness (25%)

Submissions that are not final versions with all the necessary metadata and fully functional URLs can be rejected. All placeholder text, empty websites and other temporary content should be removed.


Make sure you thoroughly test your app on multiple devices and fix all bugs before submitting.

Don’t make the mistake of using App Review as a software testing service - it’s not! Your app will get rejected if you use it as such.

 

2.  Design: Spam (12%)

Creating multiple Bundle IDs of the same app or using different versions for specific locations can result in rejection. Consider submitting a single app and providing variations using in-app purchases.


Also, do your research; avoid adding to an app category that is already saturated. No one wants to see the 110th Flappy Bird app! Spamming the App Store isn’t a good idea and may lead to your removal from the Developer Program.

 

3.  Performance: Inaccurate Metadata (10%)

App screenshots that just show title art or your log-in page can cause rejection. App Review wants screenshots that show your app in action. Try to include text and image overlays, and to show extended functionality.


Choose a unique app name and assign keywords that accurately describe it. Including trademarked terms, popular app names or other irrelevant phrases in your metadata can lead to rejection.


App subtitles are a great way to provide more context for your app. But ensure they follow Apple’s standard metadata rules. Do not include inappropriate content, reference other apps or make misleading product claims.


For more details, see the full App Store Review Guidelines or try the Comic Book version!

 

Checklist: How to get your app approved by the App Store

How to get your app approved by the App Store

 

Apple are well known for their thorough testing of applications, even more so for paid apps. Sometimes apps can be rejected for the slightest of errors. The biggest challenge for developers is getting an app approved by the App Store.


With this in mind, we have created a checklist to help you successfully navigate the App Store approval process.

 

Complete information

Enter all the required details needed to review your app in the App Review Information section of iTunes Connect. The key things to complete are:


  • Your name, contact details and email ID
  • The APIs used and their description
  • Images or icons used and if they are used in other apps
  • Links to external websites (where necessary) with a description

Remember, if some features require signing in, provide a valid demo login and password. If certain features need an environment that is hard to replicate, provide a demo video.

 

Accurate description

One of the most important elements of your app is the description. App Review is looking for an app description that helps users understand the app. Your description and screenshots should clearly and accurately convey your app's purpose and functionality.


Research from Incipia gives a valuable insight into best practice for app descriptions. In terms of getting App Store approval, remember these key points:


  • Keep it simple but compelling
  • Don’t be too similar to other apps in your category
  • Stand out - what makes your app unique?

The clearer your app description, the less chance of rejection.

 

✅ Be patient

Average App Store approval times are around two days. But in reality, most apps are approved much sooner (usually within a day or less).


The key is to stay patient because it’s impossible to know whether your app will be approved within hours or weeks.

 

Clean UI

Apple place a high emphasis on clean, user-friendly interfaces. Simplify your app as much as possible to pass the initial submission. Remember, you can add more advanced features later. It’s more important to get the basics right first.


Make sure your UI meets these expectations by following Apple’s design guidelines and UI Design Dos and Don'ts.

 

✅ Lasting value

Apple like to approve apps that are unique and provide value to the App Store. Take a look at similar apps in your category and consider how your app is different.


But bear in mind, App Review is more likely to approve your app if it resembles other apps in your category. Yes, we know we just told you apps should be unique, but it's about striking a balance. Your app should stand out, but not like a sore thumb.

 

 Fix crashes and bugs

You must only submit your app to the App Store when it is 100% complete. Learn from other developers’ mistakes; 25% of app rejections are because apps are incomplete.


It doesn’t matter what type of app you have, testing is crucial. Not only to gain App Store approval but to the future success of your app. Make sure you test your app on as many devices and platforms as possible. And always fix the significant bugs before submitting.


Automate testing wherever possible to save time. And consider other alternatives to find more bugs such as crowdsourced testing.

 

✅ Remove placeholder content

Finalise all images and text in your app before submission. Apps that contain any placeholder content will be rejected.

 

✅ Fix broken links

All links in your app must be functional or you risk having your app rejected. A link to user support with up-to-date contact information is required for all apps. Plus, if you're offering auto-renewable, free subscriptions or a Kids Category app, you must provide a link to your privacy policy.


Be careful to check all links in your app as any broken link may lead to rejection.

 

✅ Don’t mislead users

Be careful with what you promise because if your app doesn’t deliver, it may get rejected. You should not give users the impression your app is something it is not. Be realistic with what you commit to.

 

Consider crowdsourced testing to find more bugs

Aside from getting the basics right, having a well-designed app that works well, without bugs or crashes, must be high on your priority list.


Testing your app is a key area Global App Testing can help with. We are a leading crowdsourced testing company that understands that creating high-quality apps is difficult. We have a global community of over 20,000 professional testers in 105 countries. Their diverse backgrounds allow us to pick the most relevant to test your app.

 

How to get your app approved by the App Store

 

Key benefits:

  • Get high-quality and relevant bugs to fix
  • Exploratory testing results in 48 hours or less
  • Test case execution in under an hour
  • Cost-effective, scalable price options for your unique needs
  • Instantly cover hundreds of devices/OS combinations
  • Our experience of testing 6,800+ apps

Download our free eBook The Ultimate Guide to Crowdsourced Testing to find out more.

 

Conclusion

There is no point having a new car and lots of exciting trips planned if you fail your driving test. The key to passing a driving test is not giving the instructor a reason to fail you. Your driving and manoeuvres don't have to be perfect because you will improve, but you can’t afford to make any major errors.


It’s about doing enough.


Getting App Store approval is the same. No doubt you have lots of exciting plans for your app but if it gets rejected by the App Store, they’re pointless. You can't afford to get ahead of yourself or cut corners; the potential rewards on offer if your app is approved are too great.


Always remember to:

  • Avoid the common mistakes of others
  • Get the basics right
  • Follow Apple’s guidelines
  • Fix all the bugs

Make sure you do enough to get App Store approval. Then you can concentrate on working on those exciting plans.


Contact us if you need some extra help with your mobile app testing.

 

Tony Dolan

Tony Dolan

Tony is a Marketing Manager at Global App Testing. He is interested in technology and how it is affecting our personal and work lives. He has worked in the IT industry for seven years.

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