This article may look like another article about the common app rejections by the App Store reviewers; though it’s not.
Even Apple itself is very open about this subject and they have an official guide on common app rejections in the app review. So we will rehash these from a positive perspective instead by focusing on how you can develop your app in such a way that it is well-received by Apple. For a much better app, don’t ask yourself the question “How can I avoid being rejected?”, instead ask yourself, “How can I make Apple like my app?”
With such a positive approach, you can avoid rejection and also get a chance to become a “featured app”. Let’s dive deeper into the important points to increase your chances to be noticed by Apple.
12 Tips to get along well with Apple for app reviews
1. Everyone likes crash-free apps
One of the most important aspects of having a well-received app is to have it well-tested with minimal bugs and no crashes. It may be inevitable to have small bugs, but crashes are another thing, and no one, including Apple, does not like crashes.
For this reason, make sure that your application is tested thoroughly in different conditions. For this purpose, you can use the Appcircle Distribute module for manual testing in the browser or on real devices. For automated testing, you can use AWS Device Farm and Firebase Test Lab in your Appcircle CI/CD workflows.
2. Your app must be an app and an iOS-worthy one for Apple
This one looks straightforward, but for one reason or another, developers may be inclined to use WebViews for certain functionality, but Apple recommends using native functionality over WebViews.
Apps with no native functionality are rejected outright, but in any case, Apple likes apps with full native functionality more than the apps with a more hybrid approach.
3. Reasonable and transparent advertising
It is perfectly fine to have a solid business model for your app, but transparency and respect for users’ privacy are very important for Apple for any app.
For instance, if you specify that you have no ads in your app you need to make sure that there are no ad frameworks present and no ads are displayed.
If you are transparent about your business model, it would be highly likely to be better received by Apple.
4. Attention to transparency and privacy
Apple differentiates itself from others such as Google and Facebook with its emphasis on user privacy so any app sharing the same privacy-focused approach is preferred.
5. Adhering to the app permission rules and best practices
Another point regarding privacy and transparency is requesting the permissions the right way. You should not ask for additional permissions than absolutely necessary and the reason for each permission request must be explained clearly.
One of the most common rejection reasons is the missing permission request description in Info.plist file.
As per Apple’s focus on privacy, the way the permissions are requested, and the way the sensitive features are used are thoroughly reviewed.
6. The infamous “Restore Purchases” button
Another common review point is the “Restore Purchases” button. Any app that provides in-app purchases must have this button within the app.
Again, it is all about these small details that make an app noticed or rejected by Apple.
7. The mention of Android and the exclusivity
Talking about small details, we should also point out that Apple also cares about the presentation and exclusivity. If the app description includes any references to Android or if the screenshots are coming from an Android device, the app is rejected right away. On the other hand, if an app is exclusive to the App Store, then it has a higher chance to be featured.
8. Do not underestimate the importance of the app metadata
App Store listing description is indeed as important as the app itself. If you are keyword spamming in the app name or description or if the description is too short, the app will be rejected.
Even though smart app store optimization (ASO) tricks are welcome, your primary objective should be providing insightful and meaningful descriptions. If the app description conveys the value of the app in an exemplary way, you also have a higher chance of getting more downloads and getting noticed. Keep in mind that being featured provides as high visibility as keyword optimization, if not more.
This also applies to screenshots. Your screenshots should be relevant to the app and they must come from the actual form factor (e.g. iPad or iPhone) and of course, not from an Android device. Beautiful screenshots always attract more users and complement Apple’s attention to beautiful design.
9. What the user sees must be what the user gets
Two other points regarding the app description are that it should not contain any pricing information and any features that are “in roadmap” or “coming soon”.
It must be a reflection of the currently available features. You must also refrain from classifications like “beta” or “testing”.
10. App Store is no place for pre-release apps
Anyway, any pre-release version of an app belongs to TestFlight or platforms like the Appcircle Distribute module, so you should avoid submitting pre-release apps entirely, not just avoid mentioning it in the description.
This also applies to apps designed for private use such as an in-house enterprise or a closed group of people. In such a case, you should ideally be distributing your app through an Enterprise App Store with Enterprise or Ad Hoc certificates. However, also note that these certificates also have certain terms, so you cannot use them for public distribution out of the App Store.
11. Take advantage of Continuous Integration, Delivery and Testing to deliver the highest quality
There are so many details to take note of to get along well with Apple, but it all comes down to having a high-quality app. If your app crashes right away, even the most amazing screenshot in the world does not matter.
For this reason, you need to have a full CI/CD/CT (Continous Integration, Delivery, and Testing) pipeline set up for your project so that you can make sure that you can provide the best quality with the highest productivity. With Appcircle, you can manage the CI/CD/CT of your iOS apps for free.
12. You actually have a direct line to Apple
The last but not the least important tip to get along well with Apple is to make life easy for the reviewers. Better descriptions and screenshots surely help with this, but you actually have a more powerful tool in your arsenal, which is the notes to the reviewer field.
This is your direct connection to Apple so use it wisely and reasonably. If you have sample credentials, you must specify them here, but you can also specify instructions or certain features that are not visible at first sight. If you have exceptional cases for any reason, you can specify them here so that they are not classified as bugs. (Not a bug but a feature!)
Special thanks to Celil Bozkurt for his contributions to this article.