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Tips for preventing common review issues
Prepare your app for review with these tips from the App Review team. Learn how to prevent the most common issues and discover best practices for an easy and straightforward review experience.
Greg Bradley: Hello, App Store developers! I’m Greg from the App Store Review team.
Our goal is to help developers find success on the App Store.
We're an international team with reviewers on three continents, fluent in over 80 languages, working around the clock to give you feedback on your apps.
Today I’m going to share tips from our team to help you prepare your apps for review and get ahead of some of the common issues we see.
The three tips we have for you today will help you avoid issues that we find on 30 percent of rejected submissions.
These issues are as common as they are preventable.
Implementing these tips before you submit your app will make your submission ready for your customers on the App Store, and also ready for us to conduct our review.
To help visualize that, we’ll describe the journey of two apps: one that implements all of these tips, and one that doesn't.
We'll call it, "A Tale of Two Apps." And we’ll touch on some additional resources you can check out to help you before, during, and after you submit your app.
Our three submission tips are: test thoroughly so that your app is ready for your customers, tell us more about the unique experience your app provides, and provide access, setting us up to do a complete review.
Let's start with testing.
Your app may have a great concept, but bugs and crashes can ruin the experience.
So when we find a major bug, or your app crashes during our review, we’ll let you know and do our best to help you fix the issue.
We'll share the steps to reproduce these issues, and for crashes, provide crash logs.
We review all apps on physical devices, not on a simulator, to mirror actual, real-world conditions.
The issues we see will also impact everyone using your app, and we want to help you prevent that.
The best time to fix a bug or crash, though, is before you submit.
At App Review, we review apps the way a user would use them, not necessarily in the way that a proper QA team would QA them.
A great tool to help you do quality assurance and beta testing on real, physical devices is TestFlight.
TestFlight makes it easier to resolve issues in beta before you hit production.
You can upload beta builds right in App Store Connect and distribute to internal testers on your Apple Developer Program account.
You can also share your beta app to users with iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS devices by inviting them via email or by sharing a public link.
TestFlight builds are also reviewed by App Store Review.
We may reject a TestFlight submission if it has issues that would prevent beta testing or has content that would never be on the App Store.
Our TestFlight reviews exist to help you resolve App Store Review guideline issues before the app is submitted to the App Store.
And it’s also accessed with your developer account, you could start testing today! If your app is live on the store, and you’re submitting a critical update to fix some issues, we're happy to work with you to get that update to your customers.
This includes what we call "bug fix submissions." If we find an issue with your app during our review of an update, we'll let you know and ask if you'd like to resolve the issue on the next submission.
If so, we'll approve the update.
It's a simple process and we'll let you know if you're eligible in our message to you in App Store Connect.
Keep in mind though, apps with legal, trust, or safety concerns are not eligible for this process.
Now let’s imagine these types of preparations in the context of two apps being submitted.
We’ll call them Turtlr and R-bit.
For one of these apps, the developer took the time to go through an industry-standard QA process, while the other cut some corners and sped past the testing phase right into submission.
If you’re familiar with heavy-handed idioms, you can probably guess which one is which! Turtlr had a full round of QA using TestFlight, after which the developer was fairly certain that it was bug free, and it runs really nicely on all of the tested devices.
R-bit didn't use TestFlight and did a quick, but noncomprehensive QA.
There were a couple of lingering bugs, and sometimes it crashes when we try to sign in.
Let’s move on to our second tip.
Tell us more about your app when you submit! You’ve worked tirelessly to make an excellent app, and we’d be happy to read about your app’s concepts and features in your own words.
We encourage you to provide any information in the App Review Information section on the app version page in App Store Connect.
Are you submitting a new app for the first time? Tell us about your app's concept, how to enable key features, and even describe the target audience you designed your app for.
Are you submitting a big update? Tell us about what’s changed and where to locate significant new content.
Also keep in mind that as apps change, we may ask you questions you answered on previous submissions.
This is to make sure our understanding of your app keeps pace with all the improvements and new features added over time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some apps may require additional documentation, such as from a regulatory agency, or to demonstrate authorization to use protected content.
For example, if you’ve worked hard to secure regulatory approval for an app that syncs with medical hardware, you can attach the documentation when you first submit your app.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should submit documentation, it never hurts to provide us with more information about your app -- especially if you’re operating in a highly regulated industry.
To learn more about apps that may require additional documents, see guidelines 1.3, 1.4, 4.1, 5, and 5.2.
Remember, it’s up to you to comply with local laws wherever your app is available.
If we need additional information about any of the features or functionality, we'll let you know via an Information Needed message.
But if you can anticipate the type of questions that a person using your app might have, this information could help streamline your app’s review.
Let’s check in on our slightly cliche metaphor real quick.
Turtlr put the time into fully describing the app, as well as helping us understand who the app is for, not only in the app description, but in the notes for App Review.
Also, they were not sure if we needed documentation for regulatory clearance, but they’ve gone ahead and submitted that anyway.
R-bit’s plan for marketing their app is to be mysterious to create some buzz, but perhaps too mysterious because when they submitted the app for review, there’s not a lot of information about what the app is or does.
We’ll have to spend some time figuring that out.
Even when one launches the app, it’s got a bit of a learning curve.
Well, let’s move on to our third tip and see how that can help streamline a submission! We review the entire app, so if there are account-based features, we need to review the app experience both with and without an account.
Two ways to accomplish this are either with a demo account, or by creating a demo mode.
Let’s talk about demo accounts first.
Provide us with up-to-date login credentials to a demo account in App Store Connect so that we can easily access any account-based experience.
Ensuring the account is up to date is an important step because while we may create a new account to review the sign up flow, you know best the experience that you want users with accounts to have.
If your app doesn't have an account-creation feature, it’s even more important to provide this up-to-date login information.
Also, if it makes sense to do so based on your app’s concept, fully featured demo accounts populated with relevant content can help show us your app in its best light.
For example, if you’re creating a social media platform, you can populate the demo account with content that really shows off the services and experiences your app provides.
For apps that handle sensitive user information, or operate in highly regulated industries with restrictions on creating new accounts, consider building in a demonstration mode, like one your QA or marketing teams may already be using.
Demonstration modes exhibit your app’s full features and functionality to us, while using stand-in data.
We understand that you may be working with data that simply cannot be shared externally, even with Apple.
With a demonstration mode, you can help us understand the entire user experience from beginning to end without compromising any sensitive user information.
Let’s compare this demo account preparation using our thinly veiled rabbit-versus-turtle analogy.
Turtlr’s account was up to date and working.
This might seem like an obvious first step but invalid or expired account credentials are something we observe rather frequently! The account provided was populated and looked lived in, as if we were taking a look at the existing account of someone who uses the app daily.
This created a natural user experience for us.
It’s as if we’d been using the app forever even though this is the first time we launched it! R-bit’s demo account, however, was expired.
Well that’s that; we’ll try creating our own if we can, otherwise, we'll have to ask for some updated credentials.
Getting close to the finish line here.
Will Turtlr or R-bit cross it first? Let’s put all of that together and see the conclusion of our Tale of Two Apps.
Turtlr followed all of these tips and did a couple of relatively simple things.
They QA’d their app, they provided some detailed info, and they made sure the demo account existed and was functional.
R-bit did a little bit of testing, but not enough to catch all of the issues.
They didn't give us or their prospective audience much guidance on how to use the app, and the demo account had expired some time before submitting.
With Turtlr, the time spent preparing the app for submission ended up saving them time in the end.
They submitted the app, and after doing a thorough review, we approved their submission since there were no other issues.
R-bit, however, ran into a couple of obstacles.
Without a working demo account, and having a handful of usability issues including some bugs and concept clarity concerns, it will take more time for the app to be ready for the App Store.
Both apps did get approved, but by more thoroughly preparing the app for submission, our turtle friend here -- much like the turtle you may have heard about in a story or two -- ends up taking the win at the end.
What does that time look like in the real world? We complete our review in less than 24 hours for 90 percent of apps.
Reject or approve, you’ll typically get an answer from us in about a day.
This means that if there are no issues with submission, it's likely your app will be reviewed and approved in under 24 hours.
If there are some things to fix, you'll also likely know in under 24 hours.
But, if it takes multiple submissions to solve the issue, it may take a few days for your app to be ready for approval.
We understand the difference between one day and a few days can be significant in the world of apps, so we are happy to provide these tips to help your app be ready for approval without needing multiple submissions and reviews.
We’ll close out by pointing you to some additional resources to keep in mind as you submit apps to the App Store.
The first resource is the person reviewing your app! If you’ve heard from App Store Review about an issue with your app but you don’t understand our requirements, you can reply to our message right in App Store Connect and let us know.
We’re happy to explain the issue and help you understand our guidelines.
If you’re facing extenuating circumstances, such as submitting an update with a critical bug fix or a time-sensitive event, you may request an expedited review.
Be sure to let us know your circumstances and we’ll do our best to support you.
If you think we’ve misunderstood your app and disagree with the outcome of our review, you can file an appeal with the App Review Board.
Be sure to provide specific reasons why you believe your app follows our guidelines to help the App Review Board consider your case.
You can find links to the forms for requesting an expedite or filing an appeal on the App Review page on the Apple Developer website.
There you can also find more tips for preparing your app for review and other common issues to look out for.
Thanks for watching our video.
We're always excited to see the next big thing from App Store developers, and we look forward to helping you find success on the store!
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