How to Submit Your App to the App Store: Understanding the Process

by | Jan 16, 2019

When a mobile app has been developed, tested, and is ready to deploy, it has to meet some rigorous standards before it can be available for download on the App Store or Google Play. To the dismay of some developers and clients, the submission and testing involved to be cleared for publication by Apple and Google is surprisingly technical. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the process of publishing to the App Store and Google Play to help demonstrate all that goes into deployment and management of your app. Here at Hatch Apps, we provide an end-to-end service whereby we lead the process for your app’s submission and management, taking the burden and complexity off of your plate.

 

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iOS Apps: Publishing to the Apple App Store

Because iOS Applications run on proprietary hardware, submitting to the App Store requires developers to meet a stringent set of compatibility standards defined by Apple. Right now, new applications need to be built with Apple’s Xcode 10.1 IDE and the iOS Software Development Kit version 12.1. Apple requires that published apps maintain an “Information Property List” within their application that keeps track of the hardware-based features – like Face ID or full-screen display – that a particular app uses. There’s also a $99 annual fee to maintain your app store listing.

Optimizing for Apple Devices

When you submit your app to the App Store, Apple mandates that your application run on all supported versions of iOS, and encourages the introduction of recently developed features, such as Siri integration and the Core ML machine learning framework. Similarly, it requires that you test for compatibility on the latest hardware, such as the iPhone X product line, notable for its distinct screen shape, and iPad Pro. Usually, these compatibility concerns are worked out in the development phase. To learn more about the technical requirements for submission to the App Store, check out Apple’s official developer guidelines.

iOS App Listing Requirements

When you submit your mobile app to the App Store, the page requires that you provide certain information for Apple’s records and user experience. Some mandatory elements include:

  • Screenshots for each of your app’s supported device sizes
  • The official name of the app as seen by users
  • A detailed description
  • Keywords for search optimization
  • A URL for support and reference
  • A JPG or PNG icon with a minimum DPI resolution of 72

There are a number of optional fields as well, such as a privacy policy link and demo account; including these features on your listing can help boost your app’s performance in searches and improve the overall user experience.

Bundles, Certificates, and Profiles: Managing Your iOS App Submission

When you submit your app to the App Store, Apple requires that you create and maintain several proprietary documents in your app’s files and on Apple’s web-based developer portal. These include the bundle identifier, which is the name of your application as it’s used by iOS devices as opposed to the user-oriented name. When you create this identifier in the Apple Developer Portal, you also need to select the iOS-specific App Services that your app might need, such as font managers, translation services, and various accessibility features.

To verify your app with Apple’s platform, you need to create an official certificate and link your Apple developer account to your computer. This is usually done through Apple’s Keychain Access program, through which you can request a certificate from an authority, manage passwords and permissions, and other security features. Once you have a certificate file saved on a local machine, it’s uploaded to the developer portal to create an official App Store production certificate.

The final verification step involves generating a production profile in the developer portal – you select the bundle identifier, upload the local certificate, and save the production profile so App Store users can download your app. The process can be frustrating and complicated – each of these documents are critical to maintaining a functional app listing, and producing and maintaining them can be unintuitive.

If the process seems complex and daunting, well, it is. That’s why Hatch Apps provides an end-to-end service, including publication, optimization and management for the iOS App Store.

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Android Apps: Submitting your app to Google Play

The diversity of the Android platform and its supported hardware makes the publication process very different from Apple’s linear, regimented app submission procedure. For a better understanding, you can find more information on the technical distinctions between the systems in our earlier blog post on whether to build your app for iOS or Android.

The steps required to publish your app have some things in common; for example, the Google Play Console is analogous to the Apple developer portal, and it lets you manage much of the app submission process from a web browser. In the Play Console, you can manage Android Package files, or APKs (the standard file format for Android applications), create listings, set pricing and in-app purchase standards, manage regional settings, and more. Android and the Google Play Store don’t require verification and certificates to the same degree as Apple, but there are still some complexities to submitting an app and getting it approved; Android has fairly rigorous technical requirements for a broad software ecosystem, which are covered in the next section.  

Technical Requirements for Google Play

The wide variety of versions of the Android operating system has some notable implications for mobile app development and publication. Though Google is now at Android version 9.0, APKs that can be supported by version 2.3 and below must be below 50 MB in size. For APKs above version 2.3, the maximum size of an APK is 100 MB. The latest requirements from Google mandate that new APKs must target Android version 8.0 (called “Oreo”) or higher, and APKs that target lower versions of Android can no longer be published to the Play store.

You convert the debug APK file to a release-ready version using a certificate signature and the zipalign data optimization tool, a built-in Play Console feature that enhances an app’s performance on all supported devices. The release version of the APK is then tested in the Play Console’s internal test track; this testing feature lets you distribute your app directly to approved users and can provide an automated pre-launch performance report. Fortunately, the Play Console automatically generates different bundles of your APK for the devices your app supports, which saves time during the development and testing phases. A more detailed walkthrough of the Android publication process can be found on Google’s developer site. Google Play’s publication fee is a one-time registration cost of $25.

Building a Google Play Listing

Once your app is technically compatible with the Play Console and your target devices, the next step is to build out an engaging Play Store listing. A localized title, short description, and full description are required for every app’s Play Store page, and usually contain search keywords and an description of the app. The Play Store allows for more flexibility when it comes to visual assets – for example, screenshots are not required, and listings can contain other promotional images as well as video content.

In the listing management section of the Play Console, you can also add categories for your app to improve searchability, reference your privacy policy, and include contact information. Given the number of apps available in the Google Play Store, building an optimized listing is pretty critical to an app’s success.

 

Skip the Paperwork: Publication with Hatch Apps

If you build your app with the Hatch Apps team, we manage the publication and submission phase of your application after it’s developed on our powerful and intuitive no-code platform, which you can find details on in our blog post on the visual development experience. Our experienced tech professionals ensure that your mobile app meets the standards for submission, complies with the policies of Google Play or the iOS App Store, and has an attractive listing that’s optimized to bring in users and keep them engaged.

If you’re interested in end-to-end code-free development for your project, or have questions about our platform and what it can do for you, book a short consultation with a member of our team.

 

 

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