What Every iOS Developer Should Know About App Submission

April 9, 2020
|
Kendall Gelner
A picture of showing an iPhone with the App Store icon.
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James Yarema

Its time, development is complete, bugs squashed, and code is clean. Approvals are all done, and you’re now good to go on submitting your app to the Apple App Store. After working on your app for days, weeks or even months…. there is light at the end of that tunnel!

Let’s get started with a few tips on some key things you will need to know in advance:

Sign Into Your Developer Program

If you haven’t already, you will need to register and handover about $99/yr into the Apple Developer Program. It’s worth it as you will get access to a slate of great benefits:

  • Ability to submit apps to all platforms in the App Store
  • Create Safari extensions and post them to the extensions gallery
  • Accessing Apple software Beta versions
  • TestFlight – one of Apple’s best testing tools.
  • Advanced app capabilities and analytics

App Store Connect

This is a key website that you will be able to gain access to upon signing up. App Store Connect is a portal used to manage everything to do with the App Store.

Source: help.apple.com

So now that you’ve got yourself registered, there’s still a couple of things to check before your next step.

  • Your app will need to pass the app certification process. All this is, is a human that will test your app out and make sure it meets all App Store Guidelines
  • Before you submit, it is very important that you review and comply with the guidelines simply because the person reviewing your app will be using this document to judge your app.
  • In keeping with testing your app as much as possible, make sure it is crash-free and bug-free. Put it this way, if the reviewer can crash it, it won't pass. Test it out way beyond normal conditions. Do it using low connectivity, and/or low storage conditions as well as testing it on older devices for example. Basically, do your best to break it!
  • This is a good time to make use of friends and Apple’s TestFlight beta tester program.

Create your App Store Listing

This will be done via your App Store Connect portal. Once you are in, select the My Apps menu and then the “+” option. As you complete the information, you can click the “?” button if you have any questions about a specific field. At this stage, you would be filling out the name, description, category, minimum audience age, support URL and your privacy policy.

If you’ve created an app that involves social media and requires a login, you’d need to provide one for the Apple reviewer to access the app’s social features. Additionally, ensure your privacy policy is submitted as a live document online with a public URL.

This is also the stage where you’d be submitting your pricing. You will have a few options here including a scheduled date of delivery as well as allowing for pre-orders and all territories where it will be available.

Screenshots of Your App

Not too much to include here except to add that you must make time to read about submitting proper screenshots required by the App Store. This link will take you right to the screenshot specifications. This is especially critical if you are using multiple sized displays (iPad, Apple Watch, etc.)

Making screenshots can be done, for example, in a couple of ways:

  1. You can use raw screenshots. This is the fastest and easiest way by launching your app in the iOS simulator. Be sure to set it for the screen size that you need. Find the screenshot you would like to use then hit CMD+S to take the pic. Simply upload the PNG file to the App Store Connect.
  2. You can also use a mock-up template.

If you decide to not to rely on actual screenshots, you'll need a couple of tools.

First is graphics software to help with your screenshots, you can try any of these: Pixelmator, Figma, Sketch, Adobe Photoshop. TIP: Figma is free by the way and works great!

Next, you’re going to need some device mockups.

Mockuphone is free to use. Simply select your device, upload the screenshot of choice and DL the mockup. You can choose between portrait and landscape options. Import it then into your graphics app and add any text needed.

Rotato is another one that you can use. It’s a great paid app that uses a “camera” under your control on a 3D mockup. This gives you awesome angles to work with. Again, once you’ve got your shot, upload it to your graphics app.

Angle is a paid collection of mockups. They are in a variety of angles and device frames preset for you to import into your graphics app. FYI: If you pick Figma, just know that only the Sketch files will import from Angle, not the AdobeXD files.

You can use an app store screenshot generator if you don’t want to bother using mockups in graphics software. There are a couple tools that will do it for you.

With both Davinci Apps and Shotbot, you only need to select a template, upload your screenshots and add custom text.

Most importantly, be sure to show your app in action. Please do not make the rookie mistake of including a screenshot of your login screen.

Using Xcode to Upload Your App

First things first, ensure you’ve got no red warnings and your app is clean from errors. Then make sure your Signing and Team info is set up in Xcode. Your app version at this point should be 1.0.0 if it’s your first time publishing this app.

Publishing is much easier now as Xcode is smarter now by enabling or creating the certificates, profiles etc. on your behalf as you go along.  Be sure to create the full archive by selecting the Generic iOS Device from your list of simulators. FYI: When you bundle your app in the Archive, it can be a fairly lengthy process as the size of your app will determine how long it will take.

Once you’ve got your perfect archive set, you can choose Distribute App and expect to be prompted to choose the best method of distribution. After you’ve selected iOS App Store, a couple checks to ensure the app being uploaded isn’t broken will take place. FYI: This will also take time depending on the size of your app.

If your upload is good, you will see a successful upload notification next! Congratulations! If you need a bit more help don’t forget your resources at App Store Connect to assist.

It’s Time to Submit Your App for Review

This is where you will add the build that was exported from Xcode. App Store Connect will need a bit of time to process it. You will receive a notification once your archive has been processed and is ready for use.

Once you’ve clicked the save and submit-for-review buttons, you will need to answer a couple questions regarding compliance and advertising. The review process will take about 24 to 72hrs (on average). If approved, you will get an email immediately.

Nami’s mission is to help app publishers grow their revenue using in-app subscriptions. We want to help app developers build their businesses in a way that benefits the company and the customer. Schedule a demo today to start growing your app business.

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Kendall Gelner

Kendall Gelner is an iOS Architect at Nami ML. He is well regarded in the iOS development community for his technical knowledge and platform experience going back to the App Store launch. The last SDK Kendall was responsible for shipped inside of some of the most widely installed apps, reaching more than 200 million devices.

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