Arran Kirkup Head of Client Engagement 6 min read 10 things you need to know about Apple’s App Store review guidelines It’s no secret that Apple is incredibly selective regarding the apps they allow on their App Store. By limiting access to the Store, their logic goes, users will be presented with fewer apps but generally with a more consistent experience and higher quality. It’s hard to argue with the results as well. For years Google has been plagued with reports of poorly made, unsecure or inappropriate apps on their Play Store platform which has seen them start taking a far more curated standpoint recently. What this means for app developers though is that regardless of the size of your app and what it’s designed for you’ll need to acquaint yourself with some of the, sometimes confusing, App Store review guidelines. This isn’t for when users review your app but for when Apple actually checks the app themselves before it even makes it on to the store front. Here at Indiespring we’ve been launching apps to the App Store for over 8 years and advising our clients on best practice. Here are our top tips to ensuring your app can cross that final hurdle: 1 – Give yourself enough time for the review process – If it’s the first time your app has been submitted to the App Store you should leave at least a week or two for Apple to review the app. Even after following the rest of our advice there’s still a good chance of getting knocked back at least once as Apple will go through your application with a fine tooth comb. Don’t panic if it happens and simply follow their advice then resubmit. 2 – Take into account Apple’s guidelines when designing and building your app – We’ll call out a few of the more common mistakes in this list but from the very start of your design process you should be thinking about Apple’s guidelines and doing your best to stay updated with any changes. You can read through Apple’s full guidelines here. 3 – Your app must be complete and functional when submitted – The App Store is for fully completed and release-ready apps which have already been tested both internally and externally. Demos, betas and trial versions should be tested through Test Flight before submitting and any placeholder text or empty URLs should be removed. You’ll also need to make sure that all the metadata is complete, accurate and up to date. 4 – Test, test and test again or expect to be rejected – Talking of testing; Apple have a zero tolerance policy to both visual and functional bugs and if anything obvious is missed in testing you’re likely to get a quick rejection. Our policy is to test alongside development while also leaving time at the end of a project for a full sweep of the app. We have a team of ISTQB certified testers in house but if you’re a smaller team or not specialised in app development this is something that may be worth outsourcing. 5 – Pay special attention to Apple’s content guidelines – It should go without saying but defamatory, discriminatory, sexual or pornographic material will not be accepted. Less commonly known are the rules regarding religious texts (inflammatory or inaccurate quotations or commentary are banned) as well as false information or features such as “joke” location trackers. And, contrary to popular belief, stating that your app is “for entertainment purposes” won’t overcome these guidelines! 6 – Provide all the correct meta-data and valid imagery for the store itself – Frequently developers will be wrong-footed not by the quality of their app but by the quality of their supporting meta-data and images. Your meta-data must be completely correct and imagery must conform to Apple’s standards (which are surprisingly restrictive. For example you cannot show elements of your app extruding from a phone screen for emphasis and must use the latest iPhone model for any images. There are a few things to bear in mind so we recommend using Apple’s guideline here. 7 – Make sure your app passes Apple’s Minimum Functionality criteria – Hopefully you’ve thought about this before reaching this point but your app must include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website. This means that app “wrappers” around a web browser which then serve the majority of content are a big no-no. 8 – If you’re offering social sign-in options you MUST offer Sign in with Apple – A newer change since the introduction of Sign in with Apple is that where you’re allowing users to log in using their social network profiles you are now required to also offer the option to use Apple’s proprietary system. If you haven’t already thought of this you’ll need to get this booked in with your developers before submitting the app for review. 9 – Check that your app complies with Apples’ other guidelines – As well as the content guidelines you also need to make sure your app takes into account the UIKit, AppKit, iOS Date Storage and App Extension Kit Guidelines in regards to development. You’ll need to be compliant with the Human Interface and Design Guidelines as well as potentially other branding guidelines around the use of Apple trademarks and copyright. 10 – If you’re struggling there’s help available – If your app has failed to pass the App Store review stage, or even if you’re at the start of your app journey, you can engage a third party app agency like Indiespring to assist with some of the common pitfalls.