How to get your app in the App Store

There are three broad steps that anyone submitting an app to the App Store must follow. Some of these steps are one-off and some need to be done for each app submission. The total process for apps via a new company is a minimum of 5 weeks and therefore it is worth understanding the whole process so you don’t incur any extra delays.

The three steps are:

submitting an app to the app store

iTunes app store

1. Organize your account

Time frame: The review can take up to 3 weeks

For submitting an app in the App Store Apple requires you create an Apple developer account. This costs $99.00 for a personal or a business account and can done via Apple’s Developer site.

As part of the set-up process companies must create an account, pay their membership, add their bank details (so Apple can distribute earnings if you sell apps – even if you don’t, you still must enter your bank account information) and prove that the company associated with the account does actually exist (for example, we had to submit our company registration data via fax).

The initial process of signing up for an account when we did it was fast and could be done easily online; the review of the account by Apple and the request for us to fax over paperwork took a week and then the second review and final approval of the paperwork took another week.

There is an alternative to having your own account – you could submit your app via someone else’s account except this has a few issues:

  • If you charge for the app the revenue will be sent to the bank account associated with the account that submitted the app. This can get complicated when distributing funds.
  • You may be dependent on the owner of the account to make changes or release updates to the app
  • If you ever fall out with the person whose account you used you cannot transfer the app to another account, the app must be removed from the account and set up on a new account. All existing users must manually install the app from the new account. Basically this is a guaranteed way to lose users as you’ll be asking them to take further action to keep your app.

2. Set up your app’s data

When preparing for submitting an app to the App Store, Apple will ask you to enter the following details:

  • Name of app to be displayed in the App Store: This can be between 2 and 255 characters
  • Name of app on the device: Up to 12 characters depending on the width of each character. You can test how the app name will display on the device by creating a folder on your desktop and naming the folder after your intended app name.
  • Price and territory: Where the app should be available for download — globally or only in certain countries
  • Copyright: The exact name of the person or entity that owns the rights to the app
  • Category: Select the one that best describes the app’s purpose
  • App description: This can be no more than 4000 characters
  • Keywords: Which terms should this app appear for?
  • URLs: The URLs for support (required), marketing (optional) and privacy policy (optional)
  • Screenshots: Up to 5 either Portrait: 768 x 1024 (retina 1536 x 2048) or Landscape: 1024 x 768 (retina 2048 x 1536)
  • Icons: the following images must be provided to Apple for each app with the file names as specified:
    Image purposeFile nameSize
    IconIcon-72.png72 x 72 pixels
    Small iconIcon-Small-50.png50 x 50 pixels
    Small iconIcon-Small-50@2x~ipad.png100 x 100 pixels
    Small iconIcon-Small.png29 x 29 pixels
    Small iconIcon-Small@2x~ipad.png58 x 58 pixels
    iTunesArtworkiTunesArtwork (saved in PNG without file extension)1024 x 1024 pixels
    Loading screen – for portrait appsDefault-Portrait.png (or Default-Portrait@2x.png for retina) 768 x 1024 pixels (retina – 1536 x 2048)
    Loading screen – for landscape appsDefault-Landscape.png (or Default-Landscape@2x.png for retina)1024 x 768 pixels (retina – 2048 x 1536)

Double check the age rating you’ve chosen for your app. If there’s any inaccuracies it will be delayed or rejected (requires an apple developer account to access).

3. Submit your app

Time frame: The review will last for a minimum of 15 days

Now that everything has been set-up it’s time to submit your app. The submission process is fairly easy once the data is collated and the app is uploaded. There are various steps to the submission and Apple will email you as the app progresses through the stages.

All apps must be within Apple’s App Store Terms and Conditions. A version that is publicly available although likely out of date can be found at Cult of Mac.

The main notification to watch for is a rejection as this means Apple will not allow your app to proceed. Reasons we have had apps rejected in the past include:

  • Wrong age rating. An app included content that is inappropriate for the current rating will be caught by this clause: “Developers are responsible for assigning appropriate ratings to their Apps. Inappropriate ratings may be changed/deleted by Apple”
  • Apps with a low level of functionality. An app that doesn’t have a high degree of functionality will be caught by this clause: “Apps that are not very useful, unique, are simply web sites bundled as Apps, or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected””

If a rejection is caught and managed well Apple may not require the full app review process to be carried out again; it may only require the app’s data to be tweaked and resubmitted. Sometimes an app rejection can be discussed and the case for the app made to the reviewer.

Hopefully this post helps you to plan your app submissions – please let us know in the comments about your experience registering and submitting your app and any advice you have on ensuring that apps are not rejected.

Full details of Apple’s App Store assets and recommendations can be found at Apple’s Developer Site.

Full details of Google Play’s assets and recommendations can be found at Google Play’s Support site.