At the moment, Apple App Store and Google Play are the two leading platforms for discovering and downloading apps and games. And while Google Play is confidently leading in terms of available apps, Apple App Store generates almost two times bigger revenues. No wonder that over a decade of application stores existence, a steadily growing number of developers and publishers have been trying to conquer the market. So now, having your app or game placed in the application store turns to a more tough task than ever before. There are different requirements for publishing in any app store. In this blog post from the mobile development series we will review the most common problems you can face while submitting an app or game in the iOS App Store.
App Store vs. Google Play
When you look at new apps released in recent years in both application stores, you can notice a strange decline in the number of apps in the Apple App Store in 2017.
In fact, the number of titles released on iOS last year has dropped by 29% in comparison with 2016. At the same time, Google Play has experienced an increase of 17% - the most significant growth since 2014. The reason for such a decline is not in the fact that developers have massively started to ignore the iOS platform, but because of new stricter Apple’s guidelines.
Already in the summer of 2016, Apple has announced an updated process of reviewing, evaluating and removing apps that don't comply with guidelines. All abandoned, useless, crashing and various low-quality apps were eliminated in the first place. Apps that haven't been supporting 64-bit architecture were kicked out of the store as well.
However, not all Apple requirements were looking clear and straightforward, so the news about another violation of the guidelines have been continuously appearing in the press. The recent example is the removal of all WhatsApp sticker apps from the app store. But sometimes the guidelines can impact even a much broader market, including not only developers but also various small businesses and non-profit organizations, creating additional challenges for them. When Apple announced the changes, meaning the further active banning of clones and spamming apps, many developers wouldn't have thought that it would extensively influence template providers as well. And the main issue with template providers is that many small businesses’ apps are built using templates. So now to stay safe and sound with the app in the App Store, you should think of your app more like of essential tool, meant to be more than the web, providing unique customer experiences. And below we compiled some obvious reasons for your app to be kicked out the app store.
The ins and outs of the app
According to Apple, the top reason for rejection of over 40% of app submissions is the Guideline 2.1 – Performance: App Completeness, which means that a significant number of apps was rejected just because these apps were not entirely ready for use. The most apparent reasons for rejection are below:
Bugs and Crashes. An exploration of mobile app crashes showed that crashes are more frequent on iOS compared to Android. And one of the main reason for that is a frequent update cycle on iOS. From the developer’s position, however, it means more time and efforts on ensuring that the app is working stably.
Hardware Compatibility. Apple strongly encourages developers to create iPhone apps with the possibility to run it on iPad as well. Also, starting March 2019, all new iOS apps will need to support the all-screen design of iPhone XS Max or the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation).
Software Compatibility. According to the recent stats from Apple, 72% of devices sold in the last four years are running iOS 12 as of December 2018. This fact is stressing out the importance of testing an app on devices running the latest software. And from March 2019 on, all iOS apps should be built with the iOS 12.1 SDK or later to be approved in the app store.
Privacy and User Data. Privacy is one of the most extensive parts of the guidelines. And everything around gathering and using personal user data is strictly regulated by Apple. The additional privacy requirements are applied to specific app categories, dealing with more sensitive personal information, such as health and fitness apps, apps and games for kids, and location services. Also, developers, who are planning to operate on the EU market, should check if they are GDPR-compliant.
Payments. In the case of the in-app purchases business model, developers have to set all transactions to be going through the official Apple in-app purchasing system. Other business models also have their specific requirements.
Placeholder or Incorrect Content. Even if the app should be released as soon as possible (for outpacing competitors or any other reason), the placeholder content is unacceptable in any form, so the submission of such an app will only waste more time. The same goes with an incorrect name, description, and screenshots.
Low-quality UI. The creativity and innovations mean a lot for Apple and this is the reason for the annual Apple Design Awards in a variety of categories. Of course, it’s not necessary to create an app with the intention to get an award in the future, but the clean, well-thought-out and user-friendly interface is a sure step for the app to be approved. A good help in this process is Human Interface Guidelines.
Lack of Value. If back in 2012, Apple has only started to reject apps that copy other apps’ icons, now the process of app review is more in-depth and thorough. The copycats and apps that do not provide much functionality or content have low chances to be approved. So providing the real value for users is the starting point in the app development journey.
The next steps
After a thorough pre-submission process, a developer only has to submit the app and wait for updated status of the submission. App review usually takes two days. If for any reason, the reviewer rejects the app, there is always an opportunity to appeal to Apple through the Resolution Center. It can provide more information on what specific requirements were not followed by the rejected app.
Also, it worth noting that Apple has the traditional downtime window before the New Year when all new apps and app updates are not accepted. And this year’s downtime window is December 23-27.
In our next blog post we are talking about the integration of payment services into the mobile application. To be more precise, we will review the integration of the Norwegian payment service - Vipps.