Top Tips to Avoid App Store Rejection

After spending considerable resources to develop an app, no one wants to experience app store rejection. There are a number of common issues that cause apps to get rejected by the Apple App Store or Google Play, so it’s important from the outset to be familiar with the design, content, and tech requirements that are used to evaluate apps.

Avoiding App Store Rejection from the Start

Before reviewing common reasons for app store rejection, it’s worth pointing out that there are a number of resources that provide step-by-step guides on how to submit an app to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Take advantage of this information to help ensure your success the first time around!

The most crucial part of this process is the review after you have submitted your app. Apple has clearly identified the guidelines they use to evaluate an app. They specifically call out safety, performance, business, design, and legal considerations as the guiding principles they use for accept or reject decisions. Similarly, Google evaluates apps based on a number of criteria including content, monetization, and security.

While there are reasons to develop an app on your own, one benefit to working with an established company is for their expertise in this submission process. At InspiringApps, we think about these requirements from the beginning of the app development process, to help ensure a smooth acceptance.

Possible Reasons for App Store Rejection

According to Apple, there are a few common reasons why apps are rejected. Most of these are technical fixes and easily avoidable, like using emojis in the wrong place. The more complicated reasons for rejections are the ones surrounding app content and value.

Objectionable Content and/or User Generated Content:

Objectionable content can sometimes be difficult to define. It falls in line with former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s quote “I know it when I see it,” yet both Apple and Google are responsible for protecting their users from exactly that.

Apple has developed a reputation for being much more discriminating when it comes to what is considered objectionable content. A recent example involves banning apps that feature Pepe the Frog, a meme that has become a symbol for the alt-right. In comparison, these apps still exist on Google Play. Apple offers a non-exhaustive list of content that can be considered objectionable, but leaves much to subjectivity.

Along these same lines, user generated content can quickly become objectionable and a cause for app store removal. To avoid being rejected or removed on this basis, Apple requires apps with user generated content to contain a method for filtering objectionable material, a mechanism to report offensive content, the ability to block abusive users, and published contact information for users to reach app owners.

While more relaxed than Apple, Google still offers its own list of objectionable content and regulations around user generated content that include many of the same requirements Apple listed.

Inaccurate Descriptions that Mislead Users:

It is essential to proofread your app’s description to be sure it does not claim false statements that could mislead users. This includes everything from fake antivirus apps to undocumented features. Apple even provides a glossary of app store categories to ensure descriptions are as accurate as possible. The best way to avoid a rejection because the app doesn’t work as advertised is to ensure the description is as exact and reliable as possible. Be explicit in stating what the app’s function is and avoid exaggeration. The less room for error, the less likely an app can be considered misleading to users.

Not Enough Lasting Value:

As of March 2018, there were 2.1 million apps in the app store. This number has actually decreased from 2.2 million apps in May of 2017 because Apple is becoming more selective about the quality of apps they allow in the Apple App Store. They are striking back against copycat apps and apps with low content value. In their guidelines, they state “the App Store has enough fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra apps already.” The best way to ensure an app isn’t rejected based on value is to bring something new and exciting to the app store.

Rejection from the app store does not mean the end for an app. The first step of dealing with rejection is to assess the problem – sometimes they can be easily fixed and resubmitted with little hassle. Other times, the reason may require further investigation and there are many resources, like this one, available to help in this process.

After App Store Acceptance

As the old adage goes, it’s the journey not the destination. After an app is accepted to the store, there is still the app marketing road to be traveled. From the name to the preview and descriptions, everything on the app store listing has the potential to grab new users and increase downloads.

This quick guide put together by Apple includes great tips and tricks app creators can use to make the most of their listing. Google also has a list of play store best practices, that can help increase visibility to potential users. We also offer some thoughts in our free e-book, Inspiring Apps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps.

The app store application and review process can sometimes be murky, but following best-practices and guidance from experts will demystify the process and help ensure an app’s success. Please contact us if you have questions and need help!