Publishing Guidelines

Apple and Google have some very specific policies regarding what is and what is not allowed. So we've put together this guideline to help.

As you may or may not know, Apple and Google have very strict set of guidelines when reviewing your app. But don’t worry! Below are some tips and best practices to increase the chances of your app being approved by both Apple and Google.

If you would like to review their app store guidelines in full (which we highly recommend) you can find them at the following URLs:

Apple’s App Store Guidelines

Google’s Play Store Guidelines

To better correspond with Apple & Google’s review guidelines, the items below match the 5 main areas that Apple and Google look at when reviewing your app. Again, it is highly recommended that you review their guidelines in full via the links provided above.

General Tips

To help your app approval go as smoothly as possible, review the common missteps listed below that can slow down the review process or trigger a rejection. This doesn’t replace Apple or Google’s guidelines or guarantee approval, but making sure you can check every item on the list is a good start.

1. Safety

When people install an app from the App Stores, they want to feel confident that it’s safe to do so—that the app doesn’t contain upsetting or offensive content, won’t damage their device, and isn’t likely to cause physical harm from its use.

People need to know how to reach you with questions and support issues. Make sure your Support URL includes an easy way to reach you. Failure to include accurate and up-to-date contact information not only frustrates customers, but may violate the law in some countries.

2. Performance

Submissions to Apple and Google should be final versions; placeholder text, empty websites, and other temporary content should be removed before you submit your app for publishing. 

Also, if your app includes a login requirement make sure you create a demo account and include its info so that Apple and Google can use it for testing purposes. If your app has in-app purchases, make sure they are complete, up-to-date, and visible to the reviewer. For Apple specifically, make sure the in-app purchases that you’ve set up have been approved before you include them in your app.

3. Business

There are many ways to monetize your app in the App Stores. If Apple or Google can’t understand how your app works or your in-app purchases aren’t immediately obvious, it will delay your review and may trigger a rejection. And while pricing is up to you, they won’t distribute apps and in-app purchase items that are clear rip-offs. They will reject expensive apps that try to cheat users with irrationally high prices.

Also, if Apple or Google has found that you have attempted to manipulate reviews, inflate your chart rankings with paid, incentivized, filtered, or fake feedback, or engage with third party services to do so on your behalf, they will take steps to preserve the integrity of their App Stores, which may include expelling you from their Developer Programs.

Another thing that we should note that is Apple-specific, is if your app is for your business, you’ll need to make sure that you enroll as a Company/Organization. If you decide to go ahead and enroll as an Individual and your app is for your business, there’s a very good chance that Apple will reject your app, so it’s very important that you enroll in the correct developer account type from the get-go.

4. Design

Most phone users place a high value on products that are simple, refined, innovative, and easy to use. Coming up with a great design for your app is up to you. Make sure that your app is designed and laid out in a way where users can easily and intuitively navigate around your app. Even after your app has been approved, you should make sure to regularly maintain your app to ensure it remains engaging to new and existing customers. Apps that offer a degraded experience may be removed from the App Stores at any time.

5. Legal

Make sure your app only includes content that you created or that you have a license to use. Your app may be rejected, or if previously approved, removed from the App Stores if you’ve stepped over the line and used copy written content without permission.

Feature-Specific Tips:

Home Page 

While it may be ideal to require users to log-in to your app when they first open it, this isn’t allowed by Apple. All users, regardless of if they have logged into your app, must be able to view content. Users must only be forced to login when accessing account specific features. For example, the Loyalty or Social Wall features. Users can see the content in these features, but in order for them to post/comment on a Social Wall, or redeem points in the Loyalty feature, they must first login to their in-app accounts.

Web View

When using the Web View feature, it’s important to know how many is too many. Generally speaking, your app should not contain more than two to three Web View features. If your app has more than this, the chances increase that Apple specifically will view your app as not providing a significant difference from a user simply using Safari to view the content, and could potentially end in a rejection of your app. The more content that you can add to your app (as opposed to pointing to an external website in the Web View feature) the better.

Another thing to keep in mind is if you wish to include a link to a donations page, or a website that contains donation taking capabilities, the Web View must be set to the “Device's default external browser” option so that the URL opens in Safari on iOS devices and Chrome on Android devices.

Social Wall

While Apple & Google have no issues with the Social Wall feature as a whole, it’s best to make at least one or more posts before submitting your app. This allows them to see the functionality and purpose of the feature, which increases the ‘native functionality’ that they’re looking for in your app.

Publishing Information-Specific Tips:

Store Description - When filling out your app’s store description that displays in the App Stores, it’s best to stay focused on the following questions:

  1. Who is the target audience?
  2. What is the app's main purpose?
  3. What features does the app include to accomplish its purpose?

Do your best to avoid using ‘about us’ type of information in your app’s description, as that comes across as ‘marketing/advertisement’ material. Apple and Google don’t allow apps whose main purpose is to market or advertise your company/organization, so if your app’s description is simply information about your company/organization, it may be rejected.

Support URL - Make sure this is a valid URL to a website for your company/organization. Apple and Google no longer accept email address’ for this item, so it must be a valid URL. This URL will display on the App Store, and should contain contact information for users who have any questions about your app.

Related Articles

In addition to this article, we recommend checking out the following related articles so that you have a better insight into how to use the system to its fullest advantage:

Still have questions? No problem! Reach out to us and we’d be happy to help :)

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