A concise guide to publishing an app on App Store

Guide to publishing on Apple's App Store

Not too long ago, we’d published a post that talked about Apple’s bizarre and often whimsical reasons behind rejecting app submissions from developers. While it’s frustrating to get vague reasons for rejection, there is always a way to get it done. But let’s go back to the beginning for a bit.

There is a specific ritual to the entire app submission melee. If you’re seeking some information on the same, you’ve come to the right place.

Stage 1: Registering

Register as an Apple developer
An Apple developer account is free. If you don’t have one already, you can sign up at iOS Dev Center. The process is fairly straightforward. When offered the option to create a new ID or use an existing that you may have used for iTunes purchases, choose to create a new ID. Once you’ve entered the access details, personal and professional information required, you’re pretty much done. However, this account alone will not be enough to submit apps.

Register as an iOS developer
This is where Apple requires you to make a payment of US$99 as a developer’s fee. Once you’ve clicked on the right link to sign up as an iOS developer, clarify if you’ll be registering as an individual or as organization. If you choose the latter, you will be asked to provide paperwork to support your claim. Billing details are then requested for the sake of verification. Review your information and license agreement. The rest of the steps are pretty similar to making a commodity purchase online.

Stage 2: Getting Started

  • Await confirmation e-mails once your order has been processed.
  • Download Xcode, the iOS development tool.
  • Login to your account and familiarize yourself with the various sections.

Stage 3: Navigating the iOS provisioning portal

Ideally Apple devices can only run applications that have been approved and installed via the App Store. This is done by mandating (by Apple of course) that each application that is run carry a signed Apple Certificate post approval. No certificate, no app running. However, developers need to run apps as they work before submission. Here’s where the iOS provisioning portal helps.

The iOS provisioning portal serves to generate various profiles. Profiles or code signing identities are files generated by the portal that enables Xcode to sign you’re your apps in order to be considered as valid by iOS. Development profiles let you run apps on specific devices alone whereas Distribution profiles do not require device specifics.   So to begin with you’ll need to generate your development profile certificate and the distribution profile certificate.

Once they have been downloaded, the next step is to get the devices registered. Using a Unique Device Identifier (UDID) number, every device you wish to run the app on needs to be registered (upto a limit of a hundred devices). After registering your device, you need to register your application. Next thing to do would be to create the provisioning and distribution profiles.

Stage 4: App creation and testing

Once your app is ready to the stage where testing is required, it needs to be run on your registered devices.

Stage 5: Submitting to iTunes

Free apps usually need a lot less work at this stage than paid apps. If you’re working on a paid app, start with working through the Contracts, Tax and Banking section. There is one document each for apps and iAds. Once that’s done, set up the Contact information section, the Banking Information section and the Tax Information section.

Before the actual act of app submission, get organized with the required material. For instance, the name, description, 512x512px icon and app screenshots of the specified dimensions. Then prepare your app for submission by providing requisite information on the Manage Your Application section (e.g. company name, app name, preferred release date, pricing information, version number, keywords for discovery, copyright notice, review notes, graphic assets and so on).

At this stage, Apple usually provides instructions on how to upload the app, but it isn’t the only way or necessarily the easiest. One can also upload via Xcode using the developer credentials and the provisioning profile. Once uploaded, you should receive a confirmation e-mail specifying that your app is awaiting review.

Approval times can vary wildly from a couple of weeks to much longer. App review times has an updated average day count based on developers’ feedback.

While this is just an overview of what you can expect, it would be wise to go through a detailed step-by-step instruction like this one before taking the plunge. Preparation is key to a painless submission.


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