client guides · Clock10 min · 09 Feb 2022

How to Submit an iOS App to the App Store: A Step-by-Step Guide

Nikolay Kuts

Nikolay Kuts

iOS Developer

how to submit an ios app to app store
Illustration by Amir Kerr

Once your app has been developed, you need to upload it to the App Store and open it to your audience. Submitting an app to the store for the first time can be quite tricky. There are lots of things to consider before uploading the app. You need to prepare a Privacy Policy URL, screenshots of your app, test accounts, text for the App Store page, and promotional images. Then, you’ll be ready to go through the publishing process at the Apple App Store. 

Four Things You Need to Consider before Submitting an iOS App to the App Store

Your app entrepreneurial mission can’t be completed without publishing your app on the App Store. The store allows your potential customers to download and use it. Nowadays, hundreds of apps are released daily. So, you need to stand out from the crowd in order to attract more users. Here are a few basic things to cover before going public with your app.

Prepare All the Promotional Materials 

You need to attract as many customers as possible. So, marketing materials will come in handy. Apart from the app name and description, you also need to prepare screenshots and promotional text. If your app is available in several languages, make sure to localize all materials for each of the markets.

Assign the App Build to Your Account 

You need to assign the latest app build to your developer account before sending out the app for review. You can ask your development team to create the required certificate and to sign the build. 

Meet All Legal Requirements

Apple pays particular attention to user data. Check out the Apple Developer Program License Agreement to find out more about data usage and storage, health research data protection, etc. Moreover, your app should comply with the legal requirements in any country you’re targeting. Also, your app should contain only content you’ve licensed or your team created. Otherwise, Apple may remove your app from the store.

Check Apple’s Official Guidelines

Apple has special requirements for the quality of submitted apps and the detailed app information featured on the Product Page. Since the App Store is constantly changing, it’s better to check out the requirements before each app submission so you do not miss any important detail. 

Related: How to Publish an Android App on Google Play Store: A Step-by-Step Guide

Nine Steps to Get Your App to the App Store 

1. Create a Developer Account 

Without a developer account, you won’t be able to submit apps. It costs $99 a year for both individuals and organizations. Besides the ability to publish apps, you also get many other benefits like the ability to create Safari extensions, review advanced app analytics, access Beta versions of Apple software, and use TestFlight

Right after you create a developer account, you get access to App Store Connect, where you can manage your apps and access all the information about them.

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But while enrolling as a legal entity, you need to go through a verification process and get a D-U-N-S Number, a unique nine-digit business identifier. It’s better to get it beforehand since obtaining a D-U-N-S Number can take some time.  

2. Create a New App and Fill in the Product Page

In order to create a new app, open My Apps, and tap the plus button in App Store Connect. 

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You will need to fill in the following information:

  • Platforms – here, you specify which Apple platforms your app supports.
  • Name – contains up to 30 characters. This is the name that users will see in the App Store. Since the app’s name is verified, it should be unique.
  • Primary language – the main language for the app’s information. 
  • Bundle ID – here, you can select from the app identifiers registered in the developer account. This value is unique for every app on the App Store. The Bundle ID must be an exact match of the bundle identifier in your Xcode project’s Info.plist file (in the target’s General > Identity section).
  • SKU – stands for Stock Keeping Unit. The SKU is an optional field and is not visible to users. It can be an identifier you use in your company or something else that is meaningful for you.
  • User access – specify if your app should be accessible to all members in your App Store Connect organization or just to specific groups of people.

Filling in all the required fields and tapping the “Create” button will redirect you to the Product Page. Here, in the App Information section, you can add localizable information. This is very important for apps that target different regions. If you don’t add this information, the primary language you picked in the previous step will be used.

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The app category is one more value to fill in. You must choose a primary category, and, if your app can fall into more than one, you can pick a secondary category. 

If your app is paid, you need to decide on the pricing in the Pricing and Availability section. Unlike in the Google Play marketplace, you cannot set your own price in the App Store. You need to choose a suitable price tier from the list. Here, you can also manage the availability of your app for different countries; this comes in handy when soft launching a product. 

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If your app requires a log-in, you have to provide test credentials for the Apple reviewer and fill in Contact Information in case Apple wants to ask something.

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In the App Privacy section, the Privacy Policy URL is required. It will be visible on your app’s page and can either be a link to a PDF file or a web page.

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3. Set the Roles, Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles 

Once registered, you need to set roles, permissions, certificates, identifiers, profiles, and more. Check out Roles for the Apple Developer Program for more information about roles and permissions. Your developers also need to get permissions to create certificates and provisioning profiles. Without those permissions, your developers won’t be able to make any necessary changes. 

After getting the necessary permissions, developers can sign their app and specify the identifier as well as the app’s capabilities in the Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles section. 

  • Distribution certificate – the certificate that identifies your team and allows you to submit apps to the App Store. 
  • App ID – the identifier of your app. The Bundle ID must be the same as the bundleIdentifier in your app’s binaries. 
  • Provisioning profile – only apps signed by Apple can be installed on an iOS device. This becomes an issue when developing because you will likely want to test the app on a real device before submitting it for review. Provisioning profiles are the solution to this problem; they are embedded in your app binaries and allow the app to run on certain devices before Apple signs it. A provisioning profile must be created for each app.

4. Upload the App Build 

Next, the developers need to assemble the app’s build and upload it. Open your app in Xcode, go to the Signing and Capabilities section, choose the right account, proceed to the General section, and set the build’s version to upload. Don’t forget to set your app version to 1.0.0 if you are publishing a new app or increment the build version if you are publishing an update.

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After you fill in all necessary information, go to Product -> Archive and let it bundle your app. Once this is done, the Archives window will open; this is where you can manage all the archives generated by Xcode. Then, press the “Distribute App” button and upload your build to App Store Connect. Xcode will generate all the certificates automatically. It will alert you if there are any errors. 

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5. Test Your App 

Once your app is uploaded to the App Store Connect, you need to open the TestFlight section and add QA engineers to your Apple team so that they can test the app and detect any bugs. 

6. Fill Version Information 

Now, you need to go to App Store Connect and choose the app you want to publish. Here, you need to add the app’s screenshots (in JPG or PNG) and essential information.

  • Screenshots

You can upload up to ten screenshots. Apple requires uploading screenshots for 6.5-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones. Check out Screenshot specifications to find out all of Apple’s requirements. Screenshots need to be both informative and catchy. The first two screenshots (if there is no app preview) are shown in search results, which is why they are very important — they are one of the first things the user sees. Screenshots can be different for each supported language.

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  • App previews

An app preview is an optional short video demonstrating the core app features. It can be up to 30 seconds long, and you can add up to 3 app previews. Similar to screenshots, the app preview can be localized.

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  • Promotional text

The promotional text is the only field you can update without adding a new version of the app to the App Store. The users can see the promotional field before they press the “Read More” button. This is an optional field.

  • Description 

The description field contains all the information about app features. It should not exceed 4000 symbols. 

  • Keywords

Keywords make your app more searchable and help users find it in the App Store. Here are some requirements for keywords:

  • Must be shorter than 100 symbols 
  • Use spaces to separate words within keyword phrases
  • Use commas to separate keywords and keyword phrases  
  • Support URL

This is the URL where users can get help. It is a required field.

It is best that you have a website, so you can put a proper link here. Otherwise, you can use one of many free website creators.

  • Marketing URL

This is the URL where users can find marketing information about the app.

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  • Icons 

Your app icon should be unique since it is an important part of the user experience on all Apple devices. Apple has specified the correct shape and requirements; see Human Interface Guidelines.

  • Resolution: 1024px x 1024px, 72 dpi 
  • Format: PNG 
  • Color space: RGB, flattened with no transparency
  • Shape: Square with no rounded corners 

Related: How To Create An Amazing App Icon

Note, you cannot change the app information in the App Store Connect right after publishing. Except for the promotional text, the information can only be changed with version updates. So, check all the fields carefully before submitting the app. 

Next, you will be asked to fill in sections on App Clip, iMessage App, and Apple Watch. You only have to do this if your app supports these features.

7. Choose the Release Date 

After you submit the app for review, your app will be on the waiting list for Apple’s review and certification team. The reviewing process may take up to two weeks. It’s hard to predict how long your app will be in review. 

You can choose how your app should be released. Here are your three options:

  • Manually - you will need to click the “Release” button after the positive review
  • Automatically - your app will be automatically released right after the positive review
  • Automatically with date restriction - the app will be released on a specific date after the positive review
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8. Set Age Ratings 

This is the last step before submitting your app for review. You need to go to the Set app age rating section and complete the survey. Apple will set the age rating of your app automatically based on the answers. 

9. Submit Your App for Review 

Now, you can submit your app for review. Go to TestFlight and choose the tested app build. It should meet all Apple requirements.  

Reasons Why Your App Can Get Rejected

The App Store has a rather strict approval process. In 2020, Apple rejected 150k+ apps that violated the company’s guidelines. Over 500 Apple experts who are based around the world review over 100k apps or updates manually every week.

The app won’t get into the App Store if it contains:

  • Any malicious software 
  • Broken links 
  • Overtly sexual material or pornography, images of people or animals being killed, descriptions that encourage illegal use of weapons or encourage consumption of tobacco products, illegal drugs, etc. See App Store Review Guidelines for more information.  

Apple tightly controls all aspects of the ecosystem and makes the App Store a safe and trusted place to install apps and bring amazing experiences. If your app has no valuable content and is just a bunch of pages with no rhyme and reason, Apple won’t let you submit it to the App Store. Sometimes even the apps meeting all guidelines can get rejected. This only means that the app needs some follow-up revisions. Go through the rejection reasons and fix all the reported issues. Use the Resolution Center in App Store Connect to communicate with Apple about any questions you may have. You can also escalate the issue and submit an appeal if you believe your app was wrongly rejected.

Related: Why Google and Apple May Remove Your App and How to Deal With That?

Most common reasons for App Store rejection:

Inconsistent UI and UX

Since Apple has strict guidelines around the look and feel of the apps, flouting the guidelines results in your app getting rejected. For example, a tab bar should appear at the top of the screen. Check out Human Interface Guidelines to learn all interface essentials. 

Bugs and Crashes 

While submitting apps for review, you need to ensure that they are stable and no bugs or crashes can occur during the review process. At Orangesoft, we can test your app and ensure its flawless performance.

Sign in 

If your app requires users to create an account, you need to share a test account with the Apple Review Team. Otherwise, your app will get rejected. 

Access to Users’ Data 

If your app requires access to contacts, location, and photos, you need to point out the reasons to the Apple Review Team. You need to persuade the team that your app isn’t trying to steal user data. 

Summing Up 

There are lots of things you need to consider while submitting an app for review to the App Store. When doing it for the first time, there is a higher chance that something may go wrong. 

There is a way to minimize your risk and take the publishing process out of your hands completely. While developing mobile apps with Orangesoft, you don’t need to take care of all the App Store hassles. We can do it for you! Contact us to estimate your project. 

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