10 Reasons Why Your iOS App was Rejected by the App Store

It’s the big day, the first (or latest) version of your iOS app is ready to be submitted to the App Store. Only one last hurdle to get through. Someone from Apple personally tests every app before it is approved to go live.

Yep, unlike Android apps, someone from Apple manually screens every app before it gets the green flag to be published.

If your iOS app violates any of the App Store Review Guidelines you may find yourself in the dog house. In other words, you’ll receive a rejection email from Apple explaining why your app is not allowed in their App Store.

This is not the end of the world. You’ll just need to have it fixed before you resubmit your app. How much work that is will depend on how severely the guidelines were violated.

If you’ve hired Big Fish to develop your app we’re with you every step of the way. We will not only take care of getting your app submitted to Apple for approval, but if anything goes wrong we’ll take care of resolving it for you.

This list of 10 Reasons Why Your iOS App was Rejected by the App Store is current as of the date this post is published. Please be aware that the rules do change.

1. Your App Has Bugs and the App Store Reviewer Finds One

Your app should be free of bugs and crashes before you submit it.

The reviewer isn’t going to take a deep dive into your app’s functionality, and we know there are certainly apps with bugs that made it through the gate. But, if yours crashes while loading, or it doesn’t work during the reviewer’s test, you’re not getting the green light….or anyone’s sympathies.

2. Missing or Incorrect Imagery

Apple has very specific guidelines surrounding the size and resolution of graphics that developers submit with their app. This includes the app icon, screenshots and promotional graphics. If these are incorrect, or something is missing, you’re heading to rejection-ville. So be sure your designer is familiar with Apple’s most current requirements.

On the bright side, if there are any issues, they are easy to fix once your designer knows what’s expected.

3. You Failed to Provide an Active Demo Account

If your app requires login credentials to access you’ll need to provide a demo account for the app store reviewer to use. There’s a place to share these when you submit your app. Don’t think you can hide behind a login screen.

Be sure your development team includes the full explanation as shown here.

4. Requesting Permissions Without Explaining Why

For example, if your app requires location services you must explain to the user why your app needs access to their location. In the past it was enough to just show the standard location permissions pop-up. Now you may be asked to provide a more detailed explanation.

In Apple’s words: “Your app uses location services but does not clarify the purpose of its use in the location modal alert. Apps that collect, transmit, or use location data must notify and obtain the user’s consent prior to accessing this data.”

5. You Didn’t Follow the Rules Around User-Generated Content

User-generated content is content in your app that is created by other users and viewable by all.  Dating apps, social media apps, photo sharing, and so on are examples. Once you open things up so that anyone can create content, you lose control over the content that is shared.

To prevent abuse, Apple has extra requirements for apps that allow user-generated content. If you work with Big Fish we follow the rules, if not then be extra sure the developer you hire does.

6. Inaccurate or Misleading App Store Listing

Taken straight from section 2.3 of the guidelines:

“Customers should know what they’re getting when they download or buy your app, so make sure your app description, screenshots, and previews accurately reflect the app’s core experience and remember to keep them up-to-date with new versions.”

7. Your App is Nothing More than a Website Packaged as an App

Ohhhh, Apple is getting more and more strict about this. It’s a bit of a game of roulette. Maybe the person reviewing your app is having a great day and doesn’t notice OR, maybe yours is the third looks-like-a-website that they’ve reviewed in the last 30 minutes and they’re not doing any favors. We expect the inconsistency to settle in time but it won’t be in favor of website apps.

In Apple’s words: “Your app should include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website. If your app is not particularly useful, unique, or “app-like,” it doesn’t belong on the App Store.”

8. Your App is Too Simple to Deserve the Name “App”

If your app just plays a song or video, displays a brochure or advertisement, then please re-read the explanation for #7.

Apple says: “Apps that are simply a song or movie should be submitted to the iTunes Store. Apps that are simply a book or game guide should be submitted to the iBooks Store.”

9. Your App is a Duplicate of Other Apps in the App Store

Thou shalt not spam the app store with apps that are just duplicates of others.

They said it, not us: “Also avoid piling on to a category that is already saturated; the App Store has enough fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra apps already. “

Here are some posts in the Apple Developer forum from developers who had their app rejected because it is considered a duplicate.

10. Your App Was Created from a Template

There are companies out there that create app templates for a variety of industries (ex. car dealership app, restaurant app). Businesses pay a monthly fee to have “their own app” and the app company spins up an app with that business’ name, and content, and publishes it.

Apple does not like this. For awhile they were mass-deleting these duplicate apps. Outcry from businesses ensued.

In December of last year they adjusted the rules to be a little more lenient:

Guideline 4.2.6: Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.

In other words, if you buy an app template you must be able to customize it and your business’ version of the app must be submitted to the app from your own Apple Developer account, not the same account as the company selling the template.

At Big Fish, we do not create template apps. This is a difference between custom app development (us) and ‘sold to many’ off-the-shelf apps (the other guys).

If you work with us we’ll walk you through the process of setting up your Apple Developer account. Then we use yours (not ours) to submit your app to the app store. This has the added benefit of creating an app store listing with YOUR company name and your brand, not ours. You shouldn’t have it any other way.

In a Nutshell

'Apple customers place a high value on products that are simple, refined, innovative, and easy to use, and that’s what we want to see on the App Store.' - App Store Review Guidelines Click To Tweet


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Team Big Fish

Team Big Fish

Big Fish is a full service app design and development company in Tampa, Florida. We help innovative companies create technology that sets themselves a part in their industry. Please visit our Get Started page if you’d like more information about working with our team!
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