Recently we have updated you on How to list an App on Google Play Store?, and today it is time to have a high-level overview of how to list your app to the Apple Store. There are 3 parts to this equation:
1. Provisioning Profile
When it comes to apps, provisioning has to do with identity and permissions. Otherwise speaking, each app has to be tightened up to a known developer, be installed on a known device and have proper permission to access all of the services that it is trying to use. All this information is stored in a provisioning profile. Therefore, your app must have a valid provisioning profile, before you submit it to the App Store. Creating a provisioning profile is pretty straightforward, so it is not going to be a part of this guide.
2. App Store Connect
Here you submit and manage your apps. Once you log in to App Store Connect, you can create a brand new app store listing or manage your existing apps, check your app analytics, check your sales and financial reports, and add your banking information, so you can get paid.
Once you have finished building and testing your app in Xcode, you will need to create an archive of your app, which is a bundle containing the code and all the resources that you can then submit to the App Store Connect.
After you have built and tested your app in Xcode, you need to set up a provisioning profile that identifies you as the developer. Then you go to App Store Connect to create a listing with the title, description and screenshots. Finally, you go back to Xcode to create an archive of your app and submit it to the App Store Connect. Then you log back to the App Store Connect and review your app store listing information together with the archive and send it to Apple Certification Team for review. They are going to make sure your app follows all the Apple guidelines, meets the quality threshold and does not contain any restricted content. In a day or two, you are going to hear, whether you passed or not.
This guide will guide you step by step through the process mentioned above. In the first chapter, we will explain why you need to enrol to the Apple Developer Program and how to do it easily. The second chapter throws light on what you should have ready before starting up the process of your app publishing. We will get started with the Apple Store Connect and proceed to the final chapter, which unfolds the entire process of submitting an app to Apple Store.
1. Apple Developer Program
Unlike Android, in order to submit apps to the Apple App Store, you need to enrol to the Apple Developer Program, which gives you access to App Store Connect. In this chapter you are going to learn how to enrol to the Apple Developer Program and what benefits you will enjoy being a part of it.
1.1.) What are the benefits of being a part of Apple Developer Program?
If you act on behalf of a nonprofit, educational, or government organization, you can request a fee waiver. For most organisations, it costs $99 a year though, but the list of benefits is worth it. You will be able to:
- submit apps to the App Stores on all Apple platforms
- create Safari extensions and list them in the extensions gallery
With Safari extensions you can enhance and customize the browsing experience on Mac. They show helpful information about a webpage, display news headlines, help you use your favourite services, and change the appearance of web pages.
- get access to Beta versions of Apple software
The Apple Beta Software Program is a voluntary program that allows users to install pre-release software from Apple and provide feedback.
- use the testing tools like TestFlight
- get access to app analytics and advanced app capabilities
1.2) How to enrol in the Apple Developer Program?
- D-U-N-S® Number: it is used to verify your organization’s identity and legal entity status and is requested for free.
- Legal Entity Status. If you intend to have any contracts with Apple, your organisation must obtain a legal entity status which will appear as the “seller” for your app
- Website: make sure that your corporate website is publicly available, and the domain name is directly associated with your organization
- Legal Binding Authority: as the person enrolling your organization in the Apple Developer Program, you must have the legal authority to bind your organization to legal agreements. You are probably an owner/founder, executive team member, or senior project lead. Besides, you can have legal authority granted to you by a senior employee
- Apple Device: iPhone or iPad running iOS 12.4, iOS 13.1 or later, and iPadOS 13.1 or later with a Passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID enabled
- Apple ID with two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security for your Apple ID. It ensures that you're the only person who can access your account (even if someone knows your password). If you have an iPhone and are signing into your account for the first time on a brand new Mac, you'll be prompted to enter your password. And the verification code that's automatically displayed on your iPhone.
- Make sure you signed in iCloud on your device
- The latest version of the Apple Developer app installed on your device
- Think of a unique Bundle ID for your app. The bundle ID represents your app and should, therefore, make sense. Most developers use the reverse domain name notation, for example, com.wiredelta. Remember that you can not change it after the first app build is uploaded.
In order to create a Bundle ID follow the steps below:
- In the Apple Developer Account click on Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles → Identifiers → App ID. Hit Continue
- Enter an app name in Description, hit Explicit App ID, and enter an ID
- Under Capabilities select the services your app will use, then click Continue
- On the next page, confirm the details and click Register to register your Bundle ID
And you are ready to go to the App Store Connect Website.
To enrol open the Apple Developer app, tap the Account tab, sign in with your Apple ID, tap Enroll Now, review the program benefits & requirements and hit Continue. You will have to provide your personal information – legal first & last and a phone number – and verify your identity with your driver’s license or photo ID.
Once you have reviewed your submitted information, complete the enrollment and purchase the membership. When your information has been verified and approved, you’ll receive a confirmation email. As a part of the Apple Developer Program you can now access the App Store Connect.
2. Getting Started with App Store Connect
This chapter briefly highlights the key aspects of testing your app and provides you with the checklist of what you should have ready before initiating the process of your app publishing.
- A valid Apple Developer Program account
- A system that can effectively run MacOS X
- Programs, like Xcode and Keychain Access, installed
Xcode includes everything developers need to create applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch. It provides developers with a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing, and debugging.
Keychain Access is a macOS app that stores your passwords and account information and reduces the number of passwords you have to remember and manage.
- The app should be in line with Apple app submission guidelines
Apple wants to provide a safe experience for users and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful, therefore every app is reviewed by experts. An editorial team helps users discover new apps every day. The Apple app submission guidelines are arranged into five clear sections: Safety, Performance, Business, Design, and Legal.
Test your app and fix any bugs
Apart from following the Apple guidelines, make sure that your app is bug-free. During the review process, the Apple manager will do his/her best trying to crash your app. If s/he succeeds, your app will be rejected.
We recommend you to test your app under the most extreme conditions: check whether it is going to load in low network connectivity conditions or at low temperatures. Make sure you test it on older devices: even though the mobile phone industry develops fast, you can not take the older models out of the equation. Imagine that you are a hacker, and your main goal is to break your app!
The other great way of testing is to hire your friends and family as beta testers. In this case, you can exploit the benefits of Apple Developer Program membership and use TestFlight. Apple does not have a group of beta testers waiting for you, but TestFlight makes it easy to invite users to test your app before listing them in the App Store. You can upload your app beta build and use iTunes Connect to add the names and email addresses of people who are going to test your app. It is a feature of Apple Store Connect, and we will show where to find it later in this guide.
Now that you have invested a lot of time, energy and resources into building an app of high quality, there is only one step left – the store listing. It does not matter how good your app is if you do not sell it well, so take your time to go through this process properly.
We are going to walk you through all the necessary steps that will help you publish your app on Apple App Store successfully.
3. How to Fill in an App Store Connect Listing
The steps below will show you how to fill in your app listing in App Store Connect and submit it for review for the first time. Having created an Apple Developer account, you can use the same credentials to log in to App Store Connect:
Once you’ve logged in to App Store Connect, you should see a screen that looks similar to the one below:
Click on My Apps. Click on the + sign in the top-left of the window and hit New App.
The new window will pop up, where you will have to give a few details about your new app listing. Let us go through all of them together.
First, choose iOS as Platform and enter a unique name in the Name field (If you enter an already existing name, the name field will turn red and give an error). Then select a Primary Language for your app and choose the Bundle ID you created earlier (if it does not show up, refresh the browser). Finally, an SKU – your code identifier.
This account allows users to have different roles, so in User Access you can limit which users see this app in the Apple Store Connect. Most should choose Full Access. (The Limited Access option will probably apply to large companies, where there are huge teams with various roles, such as designers, developers, accountants etc).
Having clicked Create, you will automatically be forwarded to the next section. The next sections consist of 4 tabs: App Store, Features, TestFlight, and Activity.
The Features tab contains in-app purchases, App Store promotions, game centre, encryption and promo codes. We have spoken already about what TestFlight can do for you, but this is where you can find it. The Activity tab contains all your builds – your app archives uploaded to Apple Store Connect. Below we will dig into the filling of the App Store tab.
App Store tab
It consists of the following sections: 1) App Information; 2) Pricing & Availability; 3) Version Information; 4) Build; 5) General App Information; 6) Rating; 7) App Review Information.
3.1. App Information
Under App Store tab, in the left-hand menu select App Information and provide Localizable & General Information:
- Name has a limit of 30 characters and should be intuitive and easy to spell. It is crucial to differentiate your app from the competition. Here are some tips to name your app
- App category: choose a relevant for your app category. Mind the competition! If you app could fill in 3 categories, choose the two where there is less competition.
Books, Business, Education, Entertainment, Finance, Food & Drink, Games, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Medical, Music, Navigation, News, Photo & Video, Productivity, Reference, Social Networking, Sports, Travel, Utilities, Weather
3.2. Pricing & Availability
In the left-hand menu click on Pricing & Availability. You need to decide whether your app will be paid or free and which markets you want to launch it in first.
3.3. Version information
The next step is adding screenshots. In the left-hand menu click on Prepare for Submission marked with a yellow dot. The minimum requirement is one PNG or JPG screenshot for a 5.5 inch iPhone (1920 x 1080px) and one for a 5.8 inch iPhone (2436 x 1125 px), but we recommend aiming for 10 screenshots with the most interesting ones at the beginning. Don’t worry! This section has a link for you to get the exact sizes of the screenshots that you are going to upload.
Moreover, you can upload up to 3 app previews – short videos of 15-30 seconds. The videos take more resources and time to produce, but the screenshots are less convincing and are not as explanatory as the app previews are. Most people would prefer to watch a concise app preview than browse through the images and thus will be more likely to download your app. Simply ask yourself, what drives your decision to download an app?
Scroll down and enter your app’s description, keywords, support URL, and marketing URL and promotional text
- Promotional text (optional): It has a limit of 170 characters and can be updated without the need to submit a new app version. The intention of the text is to share the latest news about your app, events or upcoming features
- Keywords dictate how your app will show up depending on what people type into the App Store for search. The general piece of advice will be to avoid plurals, category names, the word “app” and duplicates. Forget about trademarked items, celebrity names, competitor app names or offensive words. Try to be creative, yet precise
- Support URL: It can be a landing page with a contact form or your corporate Facebook page
- Marketing URL: It can be your app’s website
Scrolling further down the page you will find the Build section, which shows all the app builds you have uploaded from Xcode. Click on the + sign and select your build in the window that pops up (you do not see any build in the screenshots because we have not uploaded any). Most importantly, be aware of the long waiting time: it might take up to 15 minutes for the + sign to appear. Do not forget to hit Save in the top-right corner!
3.5. General App Information
Below follows the General App Information:
- App Store Icon should be high-res 32-bit PNG, 1024 x 1024 pixels. It will be automatically processed to create the round corners, so remember to have the important content in the inscribed circle
- Version: set it to 1.0.0 if you are publishing a new app
- Copyright: mention the name of the person or entity that owns the exclusive rights to your app
- Trade Representative Contact Information: if you want your app to be displayed at the Korean App Store, you need to fill this field in (it is a confusing field! 🙂 )
Scrolling further down, you can see the Rating section. Initially, your app has no rating, so you have to answer several questions to determine the rating of your app. Hit Edit to open up a questionnaire. Being honest is crucial. Otherwise, your app can be rejected during the review.
3.7. App Review Information
The App Review Information tab (to be found below Rating) is designed for the certification team. They will be likely to approve your app if you fill in some useful notes on how to use the app. Hence, create a test user for the certifiers if your app requires a login. This way you will make their life easier: they will be able to better understand the experience your app provides to its users. Remember, the note section is your way to communicate with people who decide whether to give a seal of approval or reject your app. They review dozens of apps daily, so it will not hurt to thank them for taking their time to review your app at the end of your note! Make sure you read through the list of the most common rejection issues (created by Apple) and check whether your app meets all the criteria!
Here you will also enter the contact information of the person responsible for the Apple Developer account within your organization.
At the end of this section, you will determine when the app will be released into the App Store. In other words, it is up to you to decide whether you want our app to be available as soon as possible or whether you want to launch your app on a certain date. The last step would be to hit Save before clicking on Submit For Review.
Congratulations! You have just submitted your app to Apple Store!