app stores

How to publish your app on the app store

Step-by-step guide on preparing an iOS app for publication

Developing an app is just one of the steps to bring your product to life. After it’s complete, you need to make sure that people can find it, download it and use it. For iOS apps, the App Store is the only distribution channel at the moment. There're no means yet to distribute your iOS app to end users via other apps or websites, as you can do with Android apps.

Based on App Store Guidelines with a pinch of our experience, this article will help you get started on marketing and distributing your product.

App Store requirements for new apps

Before submitting a new app to the App Store, you’ll need to prepare it for distribution. Whether you’re a first-time developer or you’ve developed hundreds of apps for iOS and Mac, there are guidelines and rules that all submitted apps must follow.

The preparation steps include preparing a developer’s account, app build, legal documents, app metadata and listing visuals. These requirements can be split into three categories:

  1. Technical requirements;
  2. Legal requirements;
  3. Product page requirements.

Let’s have a look at them one by one. Following these guidelines, you can make your app available worldwide and easily reach your customers.

Technical requirements

To publish an app in the App Store, you need a developer’s account and app build. Account approval can take weeks, so it’s best to create your account as app development starts.

Creating a developer account

First, you need to become a member of the Apple Developer Program. There’re two options to get enrolled: as an individual or as an organisation.

  • Enrolling as an individual

To enroll as an individual, you'll only need a couple of things: Apple ID with enabled two-factor authentication and basic personal information, such as legal name and address.

If you pick this option, your account name will correspond with your first and last name. It can’t include a nickname or company name.

An app listing of an individual account
  • Enrolling as an organisation

If you need a corporate account, the list of requirements is a bit longer. It includes Apple ID with enabled two-factor authentication, a DUNS number, legal entity status, legal authority to bind your organisation to legal agreements, and a website.

In case you go this route, your account name will coincide with your legal entity name.

An app listing of an organisation account

For both options, the Apple Developer Program yearly fee is 99 USD without taxes. The subscription renews automatically every year until cancelled.

In case you don’t want to make your iOS app public, there're two ways to do that. For enterprises, it’s best to enter Apple Developer Enterprise Program, as it gives more control on giving access to apps. Another way is a recently introduced feature to unlist apps, making them undiscoverable in the App Store search. The unlisted apps are available for download only via a direct link. I’d say, it’s a good feature for startups that have an MVP ready for an app review and want to get more feedback before a full-blown release.

The membership in the Apple Developer program opens access to:

  • Software and tools, including TestFlight
  • Services and capabilities, such as App Store Connect or in-app purchases
  • App distribution on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch
  • Technical support and developer events

Sharing access with your vendor

If you enrolled in the Apple Developer Program as an organisation, you can easily add your vendor to a development team in your account. After that, they can submit an app build, as well as create an app ID, certificate, and provisioning profile.

As for holders of individual accounts, there’s no way to share access to them with someone else. You’ll need to create an app ID, certificate, and provisioning profile themselves. They can be downloaded from the Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles section of your developer account.

Things go a bit differently for proprietary apps in the Apple Developer Enterprise Program. A vendor will need an individual Developer account, so they can be invited by a client to Apple Business Manager. This guide from Apple describes the necessary steps in detail.

Legal Requirements

The App Store states that developers and companies are responsible for ensuring their apps are in compliance with local laws. Both the article and App Store guidelines can only provide general guidance, and it's best to consult with a lawyer.

In short, you're required to give a link to the Privacy Policy. The document should describe what data you gather and how it's processed. You also need to provide App Privacy details. They will be displayed as Privacy Badges in your app listing.

Also, please note that Apple has recently declared that any user has the right to delete their account. This feature should be provided to users on mandatory basis.

Product Page Requirements

Your Product Page on the App Store is essentially a landing page for your app. It provides information about your app features, visuals, and privacy details. Also, the App Store algorithms use the Product Page meta data to form search results and showcases. For example, when you pick a category, your app is automatically added to a related showcase.

After picking a category, you’ll also need to submit texts and graphic assets.

Texts & URLs

App listing texts help your app to show up in search results and describe your app value to users. The App Store forms combinations of countries and languages called locales that you can fill in.

  • App name

Pick a catchy name to help users find your app, using up to 30 symbols. If you have some symbols left, it’s a good idea to add some keywords that describe the app functionality.

  • Subtitle

You can add another couple of words about your app in this field. It’s limited to 30 symbols as well.

  • Description

Tell everything that needs to be told about your app, using up to 4000 symbols. Different from app name, subtitle, and keywords, descriptions aren’t indexed by the App Store search algorithms.

  • Promotional Text (optional)

This is the only part of your product page that can be changed without uploading a new app build. It shows up right above a description text and can contain up to 170 symbols.

  • Keywords

Keywords help your app appear in the App Store search results. They’re limited to 100 symbols per one locale.

  • Support URL

A URL where users can ask for help. It can be your website or company page on social networks. This URL will be visible on the App Store.

  • Privacy policy URL
  • Marketing URL (optional)

A URL with marketing information about your app. This URL will be visible on the App Store.

While we’re on the topic of texts, let’s dive into a bit of legalese next. Your app needs to be compliant with all legal requirements in countries where it’s available. For example, GDPR compliance is a must for apps available for EU citizens. Apple Developer Program License Agreement must be followed as well. It describes the requirements for data collection, usage, storage, and sharing. It also outlines rules regarding health research data protection and collecting data from kids. Don’t forget to mention everything in your Privacy Policy. Further, rights to all app content have to certainly be in order.

Graphic assets

  • App Store Icon

Dimensions: 1024x1024.

Please note that transparent PNGs aren’t supported. You can see more details in Human Interface Guidelines.

  • App Screenshots

You need to provide screenshots for 6.5” and, optionally, for 5.5” devices. If your app is optimised for iPads, it's best to include these screenshots as well. Just images captured with your app's UI will do, but I recommend to decorate screenshots and add explanatory texts.

  • App preview (optional)

It’s a video that can show your app functionality or gameplay. Uploading it isn’t required and hardly impacts app conversion to install. However, it’s a great addition to advertising for games.

Experiments with graphics and some texts can increase app visibility and conversion to install. Check our guide to learn the ASO basics.

You can add in-app purchases to your app. The name for each in-app purchase is limited to 30 characters, and the description is limited to 45 characters.

Creating a New App in the App Store Connect

Now that you’ve done all your preparation and planning, it’s time to upload everything you prepared for the app listing.

First, go to your account and click a blue plus button next to Apps in the upper left-hand corner. You’ll see a dropdown, offering to pick between creating a new app or app bundle. We need the New App option, of course.

Fill in the app name, primary language, bundle ID and SKU. You also need to choose if all account users can see the app in the App Store Connect or not.

Then add images with sizes corresponding to each supported device. Please note that you need to fill in each locale separately. You can switch between them after clicking the arrow button next to "English (US)".

You can fill in texts in the fields right below the screenshots. Make sure you're within limits for each field described previously in the article.

After that, upload the app build. Tapping on the blue button will open a dialogue box with your app build options. It may ask if your app uses encryption. Choose the answer that fits your app’s functionality.

Check if general information about the build is correct, leave testing notes if needed, and pick a release mode. There're three options: manual, automatic, and automatic with date restriction.

Then check all the info once more, confirm you have rights to use the app content, specify pricing and availability in countries and regions. After doing all this, add information about your Privacy Policy and in-app purchases.

Submit the app for review, and you're all set. It's time to wait until your app gets through to the App Store.

Going live

The app review can take from a couple of hours to several days. If reviewers don't find any issues, the app will become available to the App Store audience without any additional hassle from your side.

Sure, App Store Review Guidelines are quite strict and might look intimidating. But it’s no wonder: there are more than 1.8 million apps on the App Store already. And the number had peaked at 2.2 million before Apple decided to sweep away old or non-compliant apps. The sheer number of apps means that apart from compliance with the App Store rules, your app should be at least a little bit unique.

However, you shouldn't worry that your app will be rejected. Getting your app accepted onto the App Store can require some careful planning, but following Apple's guidelines will definitely help your app sail right through.

Hope this article will help you publish your app with little to no effort.

Got any questions left? Contact us and get a consultation!
Blog author photo
Diana Sadykova

Head of Marketing at Quality Wolves

I love Belgian beer, future pop, and writing about IT products.

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