We deal with Apple App Review a lot. Too much actually.
We’ve submitted thousands of apps on behalf of customers and dealt with lots of rejections. In this article, we are going to cover some of the biggest mistakes we have seen that could get your app rejected by the Apple Review Team.
It’s a topic close to every app developers heart and hopefully this article will keep you out of that dreaded Apple Resolution Center. Ok, the Resolution Center isn’t all that bad and is really a place to help you get your app through the strict iOS Guidelines and Manual Review Process. This article aims to limit your time spent in there and to try get your app accepted first time, so let’s get stuck in.
1. Your App Is Not for Everyone
One of the main reasons for rejection is to submit a public app that is not relevant to the broader population. If you have an app that will only benefit a handful of people in the general public, Apple is going to say no.
For example, if your app was to promote a local grocery store in a town with a population of 27 people, I’m afraid the likelihood is that Apple will say “No”. Your app also needs to have some sort of functionality. Gone are the days of the I Am Rich app, for example, which did nothing but let other people know you were rich enough to spend stupid amounts of money on a screen shot! Seriously, check out the link, people actually bought it. Basically, make sure your app does something useful and for a wide range of people.
What about an app for employees of a company?
Apps for internal use at a company, such as a tool for salespeople, can be submitted via the Apple Enterprise program. The app will not be available on the app store for anyone to download, it is restricted to certain devices only.
2. Your App Is Identical To Your Website
Many people want an app that does exactly the same thing as their website, displayed with the same design.
For example, a church website that wants to display information about the church and some blog posts in the app. This type of app will be rejected. Why?
Apple wants the app to do something the website cannot do. Otherwise why do you need an app? Unfortunately push notifications alone won’t get you past this hurdle. You need to create interactivity like a members area, in app purchases, media downloads, using the device camera, and native features like that.
Apple expects the app to meet their Human Interface Guidelines. Human Interface Guidelines are software development documents which offer application developers a set of recommendations. Simply put, Apple wants your apps to meet their design principles and guides. Oh, and don’t use any Apple branding in your app, they don’t like that either and it will be a rejection.
3. Your App Doesn’t Work, or Is Incomplete
This may seem obvious, but make sure to test your app before submitting it for review. If reviewers can’t login because you didn’t give them credentials, or they find dead links, they will reject your app.
If your app is using demo content, they also may reject it. It’s ok to create fake user profiles and add some content so your app is not empty, just make it look real.
You need to make sure that your app also does not hang on the splash screen. If an app is taking over ten seconds to load from the splash screen, you are more than likely not going to get by the reviewers. To be honest, if your app is hanging for so long on the splash screen anyway, it would suggest there is a larger problem in the development of the app.
4. Your App Description Is Incomplete
This is an easy one. Make sure the app has a good description, and you include everything that needs to be there.
There is lots of space available when filling in your descriptions, so use it. Tell your customers about all your apps features, what it can do and who you are. If you are using features that require extra description, such as in app purchases, make sure to include that.
Apple appreciates this information and leaving it out or very limited is a sure fire way to get rejected. Also, don’t include the price of the app in the description. Different countries may see your app and if you are selling your app to these countries, it will more than likely be in a different currency. Leave all this to Apple.
5. You Copied Another App
So this leads my onto my next point, don’t copy! If your app description describes itself as Facebook for example, its not getting into the store. You need to make sure that your app is unique, it’s new, it’s fresh. Of course, there is no harm in taking an existing an idea and improving on it, but blatantly copying another app is not going to get my the Review Team.
6. Your App Is Too Big
Make sure your .ipa file size is not too big. At time of writing, Apple is allowing apps of up to 100Mb to be downloaded over a cellular network via the App Store. Anything bigger and you are going to be rejected.
Your total app size can be up to 4GB, but the bigger the file, the longer it takes for users to download. Try to stay under 50MB to make sure your app is quick and easy to grab from the App Store.
7. You Used The Wrong Version Number
Apple likes the number one in your build numbers. So, when uploading an app, make sure you use a version number of at least 1 ie 1.0, 1.0.0, etc. If Apple see a number lower than that, like 0.1, they will reject it.
When Apple sees a version number lower than 1, they assume that the app is still in a pre-distribution stage. They want to see nice, complete, feature rich apps. If they feel like the app is incomplete, even if it is just a version number, they will reject it. They also don’t like words ‘Alpha’ and ‘Beta’, so try keep them out of your descriptions.
8. You Abused Downloading
Apple wants to ensure that the app they approved is the app that is distributed to the user. Also, don’t abuse the file system. That is to say, don’t download any files without the users permission. You need to make sure that your app actually works in some way when there is no network either. Even if it is just a page to say that an internet connection is needed, Apple need that form of functionality. A good way to test this is by switching your device onto Airplane Mode and see what happens when testing.
9. You Violated Apple’s Guidelines
Apple has a set of App Store Review Guidelines that you must abide by. You can review them , but let’s quickly run through these ones as they are pretty self explanatory:
- Apps that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited towards religion, culture and ethnicity will be rejected.
- No Gambling.
- No Adult Content.
- Matching Icons
- Use Apple for In-App Payments, so no PayPal.
- Don’t make the user sign a User Agreement.
As you can imagine, this is in no way the full list, but it should cover off most of the sure fire ways to get your app rejected.
What To Do If Your App Is Rejected
As I touched on at the start of the article, if your app finds its way to the Resolution Center, it’s there for a reason which will be detailed for you.
What you need to do is carefully review the reason for rejection, and fix the issue. Google is your friend, if you just put the rejection reason there you should find a thread somewhere explaining it in more depth.
The Resolution Center is not the end of the world and once the issue has been fixed, you are free to upload again. Make sure to bump your build number before resubmitting, or you will get an error when trying to upload your .ipa file.
I hope this has helped you out and if I have missed anything, be sure to let me know in the comments.