How to submit your app to the app store

How To Submit Your App To the App StoreUsing App Store Connect

by Chris Ching


After working on your app for days, weeks and months … it’s finally time to set it free and publish it to the world.

App Store

You’ll learn:

  • How to get access to App Store Connect
  • How to create your App Store listing
  • How to create your screenshots
  • How to submit your app via Xcode

How to submit your app to the App Store

  1. Sign up for the Apple Developer Program
  2. Prepare your app for submission
  3. Create your App Store listing via App Store Connect
  4. Make your App Store screenshots
  5. Upload your app to App Store connect using Xcode
  6. Submit your app for review

Chapter 1

Sign up for the Apple Developer Program

In order to be able to submit apps to the App Store, you need to be enrolled in the Apple Developer Program.

Apple Developer Program
Apple Developer Program

It costs $99/year but it will give you access to a bunch of different benefits including:

  • Access to submit apps to the App Stores on all Apple platforms
  • Ability to create Safari extensions and list them in the extensions gallery
  • Access to Beta versions of Apple software
  • Testing tools like TestFlight
  • App analytics and advanced app capabilities

If you’re planning to build apps for the App Store, then it’s worthwhile to sign up!

Keep in mind that your apps will be removed from the App Store if you don’t renew your membership next year.

App Store Connect

App Store Connect is one of the websites that you’ll get access to after you sign up. It’s your portal to manage all things to do with the App Store.

Here’s what the App Store Connect dashboard looks like:

App Store Connect
App Store Connect dashboard

Before you’re ready to submit your app, let’s double check a few things…

Chapter 2

Prepare your app for submission

Make sure your app follows the App Store guidelines

Before your app is live in the Apple App Store, it needs to go through an app certification process. It sounds scary but it’s essentially just a person who tests out your app and makes sure that it conforms to App Store guidelines before approve it for publish into the app store.

App Store Guidelines
App Store Guidelines

So before you submit your app, I would recommend that you go through this document because the reviewer will be using it to judge your app.

Test your app and fix any bugs

Aside from following the guidelines, you should make sure that you app is bug free and crash free. If the reviewer manages to crash your app reliably, s/he is not going to give you a pass.

When you’re testing, don’t simply test it under normal conditions. Try low network connectivity conditions, low storage conditions, test it on older devices etc.

Your mindset should be like a hacker. Actively try to break it!

You can test the app yourself or you can enlist the help of your friends and family. If you’re going to use your friends and family as your beta testers, then make use of TestFlight which you’ll get access to as a member of the Apple Developer Program.

TestFlight tutorial from Brian Advent

Chapter 3

Create your App Store listing via App Store Connect

Alright! Now you’re ready to create your App Store listing.

First, login to App Store Connect:

App Store Connect

To publish an app, go to the My Apps menu and select the “+” option to create a new app. If you are looking to submit an update to an existing app, the steps are similar but instead of adding a new app, you’ll be selecting an existing app instead.

New App Store listing

App Name and Category

Fill in the information about your app and use the “?” button if you are not sure what Apple wants. The website is pretty straight forward too.

At this point, you have to fill in all the informations about your app. The name, description, the category (to be placed in the App Store), the minimum age of the audience and a privacy policy and support URL.

If you app is based on social media and demands a log in, you have to provide a test account and password for the Apple reviewer.

Fill in app store listing information
The main page for the app description

App Privacy Policy

You’ll also have to provide a URL to a privacy policy. If you’re not sure of how to write one, simple google for “App Privacy Policy” and you’ll see a lot of samples and privacy policy generators that you can use.

App privacy policy
Don’t forget to fill in the URL for privacy policy

You’re also going to have to put it on a public URL. If you have your own website, put it on there. If you’re not sure how to put it on a URL, you can use a Facebook page or a website builder.

App Pricing

Decide on the pricing of your app on this screen:

App pricing options
Set up the pricing and also if you need to publish your app worldwide (or not)

App Release Options

You can decide how your app should be released after it passes the certification process.

App Release Options
Decide if your app should be available after the review process or set up a launch date.
  • Manually: you’ll have to go in to App Store Connect and release it
  • Immediately: it’ll be released as soon as it passes certification
  • On a date: it’ll be published on a specific date (if it has passed certification)

Chapter 4

Make your App Store screenshots

App Store Screenshots

Use this link to go read more about the screenshots needed by the App Store, especially if you have multiples sizes to cover like iPad, Apple Watch, etc.

App Store screenshot specifications
App Store screenshot specifications

Making App Store screenshots

You have a few different ways you could create your screenshots.

Technique 1: Raw Screenshots

Using the iOS simulator for screenshots
Using the iOS simulator for screenshots

The fastest and easiest way is just to launch your app in the iOS simulator (for the screen size that you need), navigate to the screen you want to take a screenshot of and then hit CMD+S on your keyboard.

That’s going to put a PNG image file on your desktop. You can simply upload that to App Store connect!

Technique 2: Use a mock up template

Using device mockups in your screenshots
Using device mockups in your screenshots

If you go this route, you’ll need a couple of tools.

First you’ll need some sort of graphics design software such as:

I recommend Figma because it’s free. That’s what you see me using in the screenshot above.

Next, you’ll need the device mockups. Here are some places you can get device mockups:

Mockuphone

Mockuphone
Mockuphone

Free to use! Just select your device, upload your screenshot and download the mock up in portrait and landscape orientations. Then you can import that into your graphics program and add whatever text you want.

Rotato

Rotato
Rotato

A paid tool that lets you control the camera on a 3D device mockup so that you can get the perfect angle. Then export the image and import it into your graphics program.

Angle

Angle
Angle

A paid collection of mockups in various angles and device frames. Import into your favorite graphics program to use! (Note: Even though this collection is made up of Sketch and AdobeXD files, I’ve been able to import the Sketch files into Figma)

Technique 3: Use a app store screenshot generator

If you don’t want to bother with graphics software and mock ups, there are tools out there to make it a very smooth and easy process.

Here’s one that I would recommend: DaVinci Apps

Davinci Apps
Davinci Apps – App Store screenshot generator
Davinci Apps - selecting a template
Davinci Apps – selecting a template

All you need to do is to select a template, upload your screenshots (that you took with the iOS simulator) and add your custom text. Then you can export all your screenshots in one go.

Shotbot is another tool that you can check out.

Upload your App Store screenshots

Simply go back to your app store listing and upload the screenshots that you’ve created.

Upload your App Store screenshots
Upload your App Store screenshots

Chapter 5

Upload your app to App Store connect using Xcode

First, your app needs to run properly and be clean of errors (the red warnings).

Second, you should have your Signing and Team information set up in Xcode.

Don’t forget you should have your app version set to 1.0.0 if you are publishing a new app (or remember to increment the build version if you are publishing an update).

At this point if you are still having issues regarding your Apple ID or the certificates, I would recommend to check this article. As a small refresher, go to Xcode >> Preferences >> Accounts.

Publishing:

Publishing an app with Xcode 11 is really simple. Where it used to take multiple steps, certificates, profiles, etc. now Xcode is smart enough to enable or create all of those by itself.

To create the full app archive, you first need to select the Generic iOS Device from the list of simulators.

Now go to Product >> Archive and let it bundle your app. This can be a pretty lengthy process depending on the size of your app.

Once this is done, the Archive window will open and this is where you can manage all the archives generated by Xcode.

Every time you select Archive in the menu, Xcode will bundle a new archive for App Store Connect.

If you have duplicates or older ones, just delete them from this list.

Now select the archive and choose Distribute App. You’ll be prompted to select the method of distribution:

Once you have selected iOS App Store, it will go over a couple of checks and validations to make sure you are not uploading a broken app.

If something happens, there is a great chance Xcode will stop you here and you’ll have to go back to coding or adding missing assets like icons.

If Xcode doesn’t find anything wrong with the archive, the upload process will follow. Once again the upload time will vary depending on the archive size and your internet connection.

Once completed, you will see a final window like this. Congratulations! Your app is halfway there to the iOS App Store.

Chapter 6

Submit your app for review

Now it is time to add the build you exported from Xcode. The archive was sent via Xcode but App Store Connect needs some time to process it.

If you’ve already taken care of the app title, description, pricing and screenshots, there’s a great chance that the build is ready to be selected.

In my case, since I was publishing an app update, I was faster and had to wait about 10 minutes. (Tip: you also get an email when your archive has been processed and is ready to use.)

You can see my version 1.0.4 is not available yet for me to select.

THIS IS IT!

Select the save button on the top right of your screen and the “Submit for Review” button should turn blue.

You’ll have a couple of questions to answer about your app:

After that, your app will be on the waiting list for the Apple’s certification and review team.

Your app should now have a yellow tag:

You just have to wait now.

In the past, the review process took between 1 to 2 weeks and then a couple of years ago Tim Cook said they would be working on improving the speed.

Then the review process was close to 3 or 4 days but I’m happy to say that my app update has been reviewed and accepted 13hrs later! (app updates usually take a shorter time to review than a brand new app.)

After your app is approved, you’ll get an email about it.

Your app is now on the App Store! Hello World!

If you published an app, please share it with us below!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and please share it with your friends and peer using the social buttons below!

18 Comments

  1. Hi Chris,
    Extremely important topic ! If you share by you experience and the mistakes you made during the submission your app to the App Store it would be very useful. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the blog, everything went smoothy…after I removed the transparent background from the app icons which prevented me from uploading at first. I used AdobeXD to resize the images. Now I just need to resize the app previews.

  3. Hey Chris,I want to run my app in “Generic IOS device but when I do it It tells me “A build only device cannot be used to run this target.”

  4. I get pleasure from, lead to I found just what I used to be having a look for.
    You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

  5. Pingback: ios - Xcode 8 chiede un dispositivo per essere registrati per creare un profilo di provisioning
  6. Hi Chris

    Please help me, I am new to ios app development process, I have already completed 2-3 apps. Apple constantly rejected my app for 4.2.2 guideline issue, Could you please provide me some tips so that it will approve by apple?

    Thanks

  7. Congratulations and thanks!!

    Just an add:
    at section “4. Submit your app through Xcode 5”, after Distribute, now developer must select submitted binary at respective container “Compiled”…

    regards,

  8. ah wait , now i see it also in your explanation … hmm probably skipped it after i saw the ”
    4. Submit your app through Xcode 5″ headlines …

  9. hi i did all off above but at the end when i login in to itunes connect after i pressed distribute. it says “No application records were found.” cant continue. You say “Use your iTunes Connect login to sign in and it’ll look to make sure that you created a matching App Listing.”. How do i make sure about this app list?

  10. I now have two apps in the app store! Getting them thru the scrutiny of Apple’s reviewers can be frustrating because if they reject your app, it puts you back in the queue for another week or two of waiting. Depending on who reviews your app, it could be rejected for minor nitpicking stuff, but regardless, there is no guarantee the second submission will be accepted either as it may be reviewed by someone else who has a whole different outlook on the many many rules imposed by Apple. Both of my apps were initially rejected, but the second submissions were then approved.

    It is quite a good feeling of accomplishment once you finally jump thru all the hoops and and get that email saying your app is ‘Ready for Sale’.

    My second app was just approved today while the first app has now sold 6 copies in the first two weeks. Being specialty apps that won’t get used often, I elected not to use ad support and simply charge a one time fee.

    I won’t get rich at this rate, and doubt it will even pay for my developers license, but it was a rewarding experience just to be able to say I did it.

    • Quite an accomplishment! You’re totally right about the review process; there’s an element of luck depending on how lenient or thorough your reviewer is. In the project plans for consulting projects at my old firm, we always buffered about 2 weeks to get through certification. If we pass on the first try, I see it as a bonus!

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