Last Updated on
April 25, 2024

7 App Store Requirements and Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Published in
Key takeaways:

The Apple and Android app stores get you in front of a huge base of potential app users, and also offer powerful benefits for your brand’s image.

Yet getting past the extensive requirements for app store submissions can be hard. When you build an app with MobiLoud, we handle all of this for you, and with the experience of launching over 2,000 customer apps, we know what needs to be done to get your apps accepted.

If you’re doing it yourself, read on to learn what’s to be expected from each of the major app stores’ requirements, and the most common ways that publishers slip up and lose valuable time by having their submissions rejected.

One-Minute Summary:
-The guidelines for Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store are fundamentally very similar (though Apple’s are more strict).
-Follow best practices in regards to content, minimum functionality, design, data security and legality to comply with both app stores’ requirements.
-Before you launch, make sure your app and its information are complete, and that you’ve double checked the app store requirements, to avoid any delays in your listing going live.

Check out the following video for a summary of our top tips to follow when submitting your app to the app stores:

The iOS App Store vs Google Play Store

Though there are other mobile app stores you can consider launching on, the iOS App Store and Google Play Store are the big two. Any e-commerce publisher should be looking to get their app on these two platforms at a minimum.

The core principles of submitting apps to each of these app stores are largely the same. Though there are some differences in the guidelines and regulations for each, much of it involves following a few best practices to ensure your app submission gets accepted.

Apple is generally considered to be more strict than Google in terms of app store requirements, though it’s important you check through both thoroughly to ensure you don’t run into problems.

Pre-Submission Checklist

The app store submission process can take a while even when everything runs smoothly. If you submit your app before it’s ready, or forget to include key information, it’s going to take even longer, and it’s easy for this process to drag out and become a huge time and money sink.

To avoid unnecessary delays, check these items off before you begin the submission process:

  • Thoroughly test your app for bugs and usability issues.
  • Make sure you have all the necessary information and metadata required by the app stores.
  • Provide up to date contact information.
  • Ensure everything in your app is complete, live and ready for actual users.
  • If your app requires an account or login to use, create a demo account for app reviews to use (that enables them to test all the features of your app).
  • Write up explanations for how to use any non-obvious features in your app.
  • Double check the app store guidelines and documentation.

Rushing to start the process is likely to cost you more time and money in the long run, so check and double check everything is in order before you submit.

Complying with App Store Requirements

When you go through the submission process for each app store, check the official guidelines in-depth for both Apple and Google. 

You can read through these guidelines here for the iOS App Store and here for the Google Play Store.

There’s a lot of overlap in each store’s requirements. Here we’ll summarize what you should aim for in terms of best practices, to increase the chance of your app being accepted on the first attempt.

Content

Apple and Google both have certain standards for content in apps in their app stores. Apps should not have content that can be deemed objectionable, offensive, risks physical, mental or emotional harm, puts users in danger, or encourages any behavior that may do so.

Content should not facilitate or promote illegal activities, and should not exploit or abuse users.

This also covers user-generated content, with app publishers needing to take steps to prevent users from sharing any content that goes against guidelines as well.

Minimum Functionality

Apps need to meet a minimum level of functionality to be accepted to the app stores. The most notable example of this is an app that is a simple copy of a website, with nothing else added.

Apple and Google (Apple particularly) want to see an “app-like” experience, not a repackaged website. This is particularly important to note if you’re converting an e-commerce store into an app. It’s vital to add some small touches to make your app feel like an app, such as mobile navigation features, a native tab menu and push notifications.

Design & Performance

Apps should also meet a minimum standard for design (UI & UX) and performance. If an app is an incoherent mess, if it has broken or incomplete features, it will likely be rejected.

The same goes if it crashes constantly, if it’s riddled with bugs or if it causes the user’s battery to drain particularly fast.

Data Security & Privacy

Apps’ handling of data is particularly important today, for both app stores. The app needs to be secure in how it handles data, that data is collected and used with permission, and that certain steps are taken to keep user data safe.

Monetization

Both platforms have regulations regarding how in-app payments (e.g. in-app purchases, subscriptions, paid app purchases) work. These payments generally need to happen through the Apple/Google payment systems, and users can’t circumvent this (and thus avoid their payment fees) by taking payments off-platform.

E-commerce apps are excepted from this, however. For both Apple and Google, payments for goods and services used outside the app (e.g. physical product sales) should use an external payment method (e.g. credit cards).

IP, Deception & Impersonation

Apps must not violate any intellectual property (IP) laws. They shouldn’t represent a relationship with a person or brand (unless they have the right to do so), and shouldn’t attempt to impersonate another app, or in any way deceive users.

Malware/Harmful Software

Apps should not contain any malware, viruses, or software that may harm users or their devices. This includes harvesting/transmitting information without a user’s knowledge and software that is abusive, harmful or deceptive.

Common Pitfalls & Things to Avoid

If you want to cut down the time from submitting your review to going live, watch out for a few common issues that cause apps to be rejected and have to be re-submitted.

Incomplete Apps/Information

Don’t submit beta builds, partial builds, or anything else that could cause your app to appear incomplete. Also ensure you’ve got all the necessary information and metadata required for submission.

Broken Links & Placeholder Text

Make sure all links work, and you don’t have any placeholder text (e.g. lorem ipsum) left anywhere in the app. It should work exactly as you intend for real users.

Meeting Minimum Functionality for an App

Don’t submit a direct copy of your website. This is probably the most common reason for apps to be rejected. Apple specifically mentions that apps should have features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website.

Google Play is a bit more lenient in this area, but they still don’t like apps that have very little utility or value.

If you use MobiLoud, you can be safe knowing that we’ve found the sweet spot for website-to-app conversions that adds enough to get your app approved while maintaining what makes your website great.

Poor UI & UX

This is likely to be an issue if your website is not optimized for mobile before you start. If your app looks bad or is awkward to use, it’ll likely be rejected. This is especially true if you try to convert a website that’s not responsive and optimized for mobile screens.

Not Giving Reviewers the Ability to Test Your App

Many publishers have lost valuable time having to regather and re-submit their app because they didn’t provide the necessary information, permissions and resources to allow full testing of their app. This includes giving an explanation of non-obvious features and how to test them, and creating a demo account for testers to review account-specific features.

Mentioning Other Platforms

Finally, don’t mention any competing platforms in your app store listing. This is mostly an issue when submitting to the iOS app store, and often results in app submissions being rejected because the publisher mentioned Android or Google in their listing.

How to Submit Your App

For the iOS app store, you’ll submit everything through your App Store Connect account, including all the information, metadata and listing details. When you’re ready to submit your app, hit “Add for Review”. Make sure this is the full, complete, release-ready version of your app.

For the Google Play Store, submit your app through the Play Console. Go to the “All apps” tab and hit “Create Application”. From here you’ll give your app a title, provide information about your app’s content, category, tags and other details (including your listing copy, title, description etc). Finally you’ll upload the files of your app (app bundles or APK).

In the Google Play Store you can upload a beta version of your app for closed or open testing, or go straight to submitting the final version for review.

App Store Submission FAQs

Does it cost to publish my app?

It doesn’t technically cost to submit your app to the iOS/Google Play stores. However you will require an account for each. You’ll need an Apple developer account for the iOS store, which costs $99 per year, and a Google Play Console account, which is a one-time $25 cost.

What happens after I submit my app?

Once you submit, a reviewer will check your app and listing to ensure it meets the app store’s criteria. The app stores will notify you once the submission process is complete and let you know if your submission was accepted or not. If it was rejected, you’ll be given a reason and a chance to fix and re-submit your application.

How long does the review process take?

Apple claims that 90% of submissions are reviewed within 24 hours. However, it’s not unusual for it to take several days.

For Google, this process can take anywhere from a few hours to 7 days (or more in some cases). Most often, it takes between 3-7 days.

What happens if my app is rejected?

If your application is not successful, you will generally receive feedback explaining which section of the guidelines you were not compliant with. From here, you will be able to go back and fix these issues and re-submit, or if you believe there was a mistake, you can submit an appeal.

Final Thoughts

Unless you’re building an app that’s specifically for private use, you’re going to want to get in the app stores. There’s minimal downside - very little expense, no risk - yet big benefits for your brand and huge upside as a user acquisition channel.

The only downside is the time and effort you put into getting your app past app store review. And though a lot of what’s required lines up with simple best practices for launching an app, the app store submission process can certainly be frustrating and difficult for first-time publishers.

This is one of the most valuable parts about launching your app with MobiLoud. We’ve done this countless times, and know the process inside and out. As part of our service, we submit your apps to the App Store and Google Play for you. Our knowledge of the process means you can get approved much faster, and start enjoying the benefits of launching your own shopping app to the public.

In the next article we’ll dive deeper into how to optimize your app store listing for visibility and downloads, as well as a few other ways you can start getting users after launch.

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