(January 14, 2016) – You’ve spent the last few weeks making sure your app has meaningful content for your audience and is ready to launch. Now, it’s time for the app to be submitted to Apple for review. You may be wondering what this review means and what your app needs to include or not include to be approved. Not to worry—we’ve compiled a few tips to ensure it’s a smooth process.

How Apple Thinks

Apple checks the apps placed on their App Store to make sure they follow these policies the first time they are submitted and for all future updates. Because of this, it’s important to make sure the review guidelines are followed not only for your initial app submission, but continue to be followed once your app goes live so it will be ready to be approved for any updates down the road.

Always following these guidelines can be challenging since the content in your app is frequently changing. At Bluebridge, we check your app before each submission to make sure it is ready for the review process. This helps to lessen the likelihood that your app will be rejected. Keep these best practices in mind when going through a review process:

1. Watch for Online Giving Access

Apple’s Policy: The collection of charitable donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS.

What to Avoid: It is easy to find links in your app that open directly to a giving website, but there are other use cases where this guideline needs to be followed.

Any web page that includes access to a giving site can be rejected. If app users can navigate to your giving site from your website, remember to use the open external functionality any time you link to your website in the app. Although most of the content on a web page may include other information, if a giving link is accessible, Apple requires that page to be opened outside of the app to follow this guideline.

Our Recommendation: When inserting a mobile giving site through the web view property in the Mobile App Studio, choose the option to “open externally.

2. Use Embedded Vimeo and Youtube Links

Apple’s Policy: Developers are responsible for assigning appropriate ratings to their apps. Inappropriate ratings may be changed/deleted by Apple.

What to Avoid: Apple has a rating system to help guide app users on what age level is appropriate for using an app. A common reason for a higher rating, such as 17+, is unfiltered web access. This access presents the possibility that app users can search for mature content within the app. Both Vimeo and Youtube include search functionality on their websites, so including a link to a video on Vimeo or Youtube also provides access to search for other content. If a link to either site is included in the app, Apple will require the app to be rated 17+. Depending on your target audience, this rating can deter potential app users from downloading the app.

Our Recommendation: Choose to directly embed video links from Vimeo and YouTube so there’s no access to a third party search functionality. In addition, embedded links open to a full screen of the video so your app users can quickly get to the content you want them to see. Check out the Bluebridge Learning Center for more information on embedding videos from Vimeo and Youtube.

3. Avoid Mentioning Other Operating Systems

Apple’s Policy: Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.

What to Avoid: Content within your app cannot reference or mention another mobile platform (i.e. Android, Google Play, etc.). This can include content added directly to the app through the Mobile App Studio in a text field or property header as well as any references that can be seen on a web page that is available within the app.

Our Recommendation: If your app does need to reference another mobile platform, use a phrase like “other devices” rather than mentioning a specific device or platform. Any web page that references Android or Google Play within the app will need to be opened externally.

4. Make Sure your Content is Complete

Apple’s Policy: Apps that are “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected. Beta Apps may only be submitted through TestFlight and must follow the TestFlight guidelines.

What to Avoid: Apps will be rejected if they appear to be in a demo or test state during Apple review. This occurs if the content within the app uses words like test, temporary, placeholder, etc. or if there a significant number of empty containers, items, or property fields in the app content.

Our Recommendation: We recommend adding realistic content to the app, even if the content is not permanent. Additionally, make sure content is added throughout the entire app. For the review process, it is better to have a single item with full content rather than an entire container with no content, even if the structure will change later and a container may be needed down the road.

5. Include a Detailed App Store Description

Apple’s Policy: Apps with names, descriptions, screenshots, or previews not relevant to the content and functionality of the App will be rejected.

What to Avoid: A rejection can occur when an app is submitted to the App Store with a description that is too short to accurately describe the app. App Store pages must be complete before being released, and this includes a thorough description.

Our Recommendation: Your app description should communicate to potential app users the value of your app and what problem it solves. Clearly detailing the benefit of downloading the app will accurately describe the app’s purpose to reviewers and will motivate new users to download your app. Make sure to incorporate these details into your description:

  • An introduction to your app
  • A call to action
  • A feature list
  • A short mention of your organization
  • The best way to contact you directly

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure your app is prepared for the review process. Regardless, the Bluebridge implementation team has an initial approval rating of over 90% and often receives approval within a matter of weeks. We’re your personal advocate for submitting apps to Apple and will speak on your behalf! If you have any questions about Apple’s review guidelines and your app, feel free to talk with your Customer Success Manager for the best strategies or contact help@bluebridgedigital.com for technical support.

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Author: Leah Hahn

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