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The iOS App Store Review Process: Avoiding Mistakes that Lead to Rejection

The introduction of its app store review process states that Apple wants to help you to join the hundreds of thousands of developers who have discovered the professionally and financially rewarding process of developing iOS apps. However, if you do a search looking for information on iOS app development, you’re likely to find a number of stories about applications that were rejected over the past several years through the App Store review process. If you’re wondering whether you can be a successful developer of iOS apps, read on for more information about rejections.

What Apple Says About Rejection

Apple’s introduction states upfront that there are a number of reasons why your app would be rejected from the App Store, where more than a million apps already exist. They start with the vague reasons as to why it may not be accepted: if it isn’t useful, or entertaining, or it’s “plain creepy.” Also, if its content or behavior is “over the line” — and Apple states that they will know where that line is if they see it and you will know if you’ve crossed it.

Some of the other reasons are a bit more clear, however: If it looks like something that was made quickly or by someone who didn’t know what they were doing, it will be rejected. Apps that steal the work of other developers are a no-go, as well.

Beyond the introduction, the real nitty gritty of app rejections is stated. If your app crashes, it will be rejected. Likewise if it has bugs, doesn’t perform as advertised, downloads code in any form, is larger than 100 MB and won’t download over cellular networks, and much more. (See the document for the complete list.) In short: there are a lot of reasons that an app can be rejected.

The Most Common Reasons

According to Apple, during a 7 day period ending February 12, 2015, the most common reason that an app was rejected was that more information about the app was needed in the App Review Information section on iTunes Connect. This reason accounted for 14 percent of all rejections during that time.

The second most common rejection, accounting for 10 percent, was that the app contained bugs.

A Recent Rejection

In early March, an article from Pocket Tactics discussed the recent App Store rejection of the game Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager, published by Slitherine. The reason for the rejection, according to the article, is that the game contains well-known third parties. Aldrin is reportedly the third party, in spite of the fact that he actually helped work on the project.

It was expected, at the time of the writing, that the issue would be cleared up in the appeals process.

About the Review Process

The App Store Review Process features a number of steps. Developers are encouraged to make sure it meets guidelines before submitting the app for review. Once that is done, developers are asked to provide information such as specific settings and special instructions in the App Review Information section on iTunes Connect.

Once the app has been submitted, developers can view its status in the My Apps module of iTunes Connect.

Apple allows for the request for an expedited review to take place, but only in certain circumstances, including urgent bug fixes and time-sensitive releases. Requests to expedite are limited, Apple says, and not every request will be honored.

What to do If Your App is Rejected

Apple’s Resolution Center provides information to developers as to why their app was rejected and rejections can be appealed to the App Review Board. This allows developers to offer additional details as to why the app should be approved.

Take a look at this post to see more about the appeal process from someone who actually experienced it.

Avoiding the Common Mistakes

Master Software Solutions posted several months ago about common mistakes that lead to App Store Review rejections and offered some solutions to avoid them.

In addition to making sure you fill out the information carefully and completely for the App Review Information section and thoroughly test your app before submitting it, the post also stresses that you make sure all of your metadata is relevant to the app. Additionally, if your app uses IDFA for advertisements, make sure there is ad functionality. Do not use words such as “beta,” “demo,” or “test” in your descriptions as this will also cause your app to be rejected.

Ensure that your ad doesn’t get rejected for including wording that it is available in other platforms. Also, be careful of rating your app, as a rejection will happen if your app reviewer doesn’t believe that the app is suitable for that rating.

In Closing

There are over a million apps in the App Store. Adding yours to the list is a matter of carefully following Apple’s instructions. Making yours stand out is a matter of creativity, usefulness, and that special something that isn’t already out there. Good luck!

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