With over 2 million apps now in the iOS app store, entering such a crowded market is not an easy feat.
Every day, more and more mobile apps are being built and published.
If you can successfully pass Apple’s rigorous review process and get your app approved by the gatekeepers the first time around, you’ll find that great benefits await!
For example, upon approval:
- You’re no longer left waiting for users to find you in search, on social media, or by word-of-mouth. The apps stores open up a completely new acquisition channel for you.
- Users can begin downloading your app right away, and you can start to generate more revenue through mobile advertising immediately.
- Push notifications will enable you to instantly connect and engage with users, sharing with them real-time updates regarding new content, in-app activity, special offers, and more.
Unfortunately, some apps do get rejected straight out the gate. It's not always easy to find out what you need to do in order to avoid app store rejection.
According to Apple, 88% of those rejections occur because of the most common faux pas.
It’s clear that even making it into the app store is a labor in and of itself.
But that doesn’t mean you can afford to miss any of Apple’s guidelines. If your app isn’t accepted the first time you submit--especially if the reason is due to poor quality of content or app construction - it will be very difficult to change Apple’s mind when you resubmit.
If you want to maintain a strong reputation as you submit more apps to the iOS app store, you must play by their rules.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you traverse the minefield of guidelines that lie between developers and a space on the iOS app store, to help you avoid app store rejection!
Technical Reasons for App Store Rejection
There are generally two categories of reasons for app store rejection. Technical reasons are the first:
1. Crashes and Bugs
We will reject incomplete app bundles and binaries that crash or exhibit obvious technical problems.
Guideline 2.1 - App Completeness
As you can imagine, Apple doesn’t take too kindly to apps that contain explicit bugs or full-out system failures. If your testing of the app demonstrates an unstable performance and ongoing crashes, get that fixed first before submitting for review - if not your app is almost guaranteed to be rejected. Make sure your app works
2. Poor Performance
It doesn’t matter how stunning your app looks or how entertaining it is, Apple expects it to run fluidly. If the entry screen causes confusion or frustration, if navigation is choppy, if pages take too long to load - users will be unhappy. Apple will keep that from happening by outright rejecting your app.
Guideline 5.1.1 - Privacy - Data Collection and Storage
- Providing an explanation of your data retention policies
- Enabling users to withdraw consent to data collection, among other things.
Specifically, Apple has made a point of mentioning that there are two kinds of links it requires apps to have. First, all apps must include a direct link to Support along with contact information.
4. Broken Links
Submissions to App Review, including apps you make available for pre-order, should be final versions with all necessary metadata and fully functional URLs included; placeholder text, empty websites, and other temporary content should be scrubbed before submission.
Guideline 2.1 - Performance - App Completeness
Apple has explicitly called out broken links as one of the top reasons for rejecting an app. If you haven’t taken the time to walk through your mobile app and test out each page and link, do so now.
5. Hardware and Software Compatibility
We noticed that your app did not run or display as expected when viewed on [Apple's latest devices]
Guideline 2.4.1 - Performance - Hardware Compatibility
Per Apple’s guidelines, your app must work on all the latest systems--hardware and software. They’ve placed extra importance on apps’ ability to run on the iPad, so take note of that for your tests.
Apple also stresses the importance of designing apps so they don’t inefficiently use up the resources or put strain on devices (e.g. excessive heat, battery draining, etc.) They also strongly discourage apps from encouraging or asking users to disable core iOS features. In other words, if your app can’t work everywhere and on every Apple mobile device, you have a problem.
6. Payment System
Use payment mechanisms other than in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality in the app
Guideline 3.1.1 - Payments - In-App Purchase
If your app takes payments to unlock functionality or allow the user to download digital content, transactions must go through the official Apple in-app purchasing system. This is to ensure that money is securely transferred via Apple's marketplace.
This is something to be aware of when converting your website into a mobile app since traditional payment systems will be connected to the site.
When using MobiLoud News, you can sell access to content, remove ads, and so on for a subscription fee using in-app payment tools from Apple, and eCommerce apps built with us can integrate whatever payment gateway necessary!
7. Lacking Standard Functionality
Your app appears to be a pre-release, test, or trial version with a limited feature set. Apps that are created for demonstration or trial purposes are not permitted on the App Store.
Guideline 2.2 - Performance
Creating a mobile app for the wrong reasons--i.e. for the purposes of giving customers another contact channel--could result in app store rejection.
The key thing to remember is that a mobile app must be useful. If all you want to do is share a contact form, and there’s no other functionality or features to the app, then there’s no reason to have it in the first place.
Demo content or trial versions are also to be avoided. All content in your app must be real and final.
Content-Related Reasons for App Store Rejection
The second type of reason Apple rejects apps is because the quality of the content is lacking:
8. Copycat of Another App
Are a duplicate of another app or are conspicuously similar to another app
Guideline 4.1 - Design - Copycats
Think twice before going to the trouble of remodeling the latest mobile craze. Apple may not feel that it’s a welcome addition to its market (along with the 15 other versions of it already out there…). Plus, Apple hates wasting its reviewers’ and users’ time with unoriginal content. Creating your own unique app and content is a good way to avoid app store rejection.
9. Website or Application?
Your app provides a limited user experience as it is not sufficiently different from a mobile browsing experience. As such, the experience it provides is similar to the general experience of using Safari. Including iOS features such as push notifications, Core Location, and sharing do not provide a robust enough experience to be appropriate for the App Store.
Guideline 4.2 - Design - Minimum Functionality
If your app is based on a website, make sure that what you upload is, in fact, an app rather than a website in an app wrapper. If you’re looking for a solution to convert your site into an app and want to avoid any risk of a rejection, check out Canvas. While the apps are built from your existing site or web app - Canvas gives them functionality that goes way beyond that, and there's no chance of an Apple rejection!
10. Placeholder Content
One of the most frustrating things for anyone on the receiving end of an app--Apple’s review team or the end users that encounter it in the store--is to find placeholder content still in there.
This is a sign that your mobile app is incomplete and wasn’t ready to be sent over. It will also give reviewers an extra reason to dig and find more things wrong with it.
11. Inaccurate Description
Make sure your app description is as to the point and accurate as possible. Also, make sure your app doesn’t describe itself as something it’s not. In sum, if your description misleads users to download the app, you’ll find yourself in hot water.
12. Lack of Valuable Content
Similar to the point made about the lack of standard functionality, the same goes here if there is a lack of valuable content. If you’re simply aggregating a bunch of web pages with no rhyme or reason, or there isn’t much substance in the content, you can’t expect users to gain much from the experience.
13. Poor UI
Before designing your app, get up to speed with Apple's Human Interface Guidelines. They’ll provide you with a good baseline on how to properly design a user interface that leads to good results. As you can see from this example from Apple, there are clear dos and don’ts when it comes to designing mobile interfaces:
14. Bad UX
The first thing you should ask during testing is: “Is my app easy to use?” This includes reviewing the navigation, the customer journey through design, as well as custom features and functionality you’ve introduced to the app. If it doesn’t comply with standard iOS design specifications, take it back to the drawing board.
15. Mentioning Other App Platforms
If it’s clear the app wasn’t built strictly for iOS, you’re going to have a difficult time getting it approved. In other words, don’t mention Android apps or any other platforms. And, when creating screenshots for the store, make sure they come from iOS devices.
16. Incomplete Information
The last reason why Apple might reject your app is if the information you provide for the store and for review purposes is incomplete or out-of-date. In other words, make sure to include:
- Your contact details
- The title, description, specifications, and other details about the app
- Categorization information
- Special configuration notes
- Demo video if there’s something regarding hardware or software you have to explain
Other Reasons for App Store Rejection
If you have submitted your app to the store and it was rejected for a reason not listed here, call Apple directly to get more details.
Apple’s support team is really helpful during the review process and can walk you through whatever went wrong.
If Apple became lenient in its rules and allowed buggy, spammy, or misleading apps into the store, how long do you think its users would continue to trust the store’s ability to provide high-quality apps for their devices? Needless to say, there’s a valid reason behind each app store rejection from Apple.
That’s why you should invest more time and energy in making your app. If you can spare yourself the hassle of being rejected by Apple, you can start reaping the benefits of having an app in the iOS store right away. We hope that this guide will help you avoid app store rejection when you go to publish your own mobile app.
Apple are sometimes a hard company to work with. We should know, we've published over 1000 apps to the App Store. If you're looking to build apps - from your existing site - check out our solutions. We specialise in turning news websites, web apps, WordPress sites, eCommerce stores and membership platforms into both Android and iOS apps.
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If you're a WordPress based digital published, check out our News platform. For any other kind of apps including social, eCommerce or eLearning - check out Canvas.
Once your app has been successfully published, follow these App Store Optimization strategies to make sure you've optimized your app to rank well on the iOS and Google Play App Stores to start getting more downloads!