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

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 looks at every app before it is approved to go live.

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.

If you’ve hired Big Fish for iOS app prototyping, design, and development of your app we’re with you every step of the way. If our clients make a request that we know or suspect will get them rejected, we’ll let you know up front. Though we can’t take responsibility for a decision made by Apple, we’re with you every step of the way to help you resolve it.

This list of reasons why your iOS app was rejected by the App Store is current as of the publish date on this article. Please be aware that the App Store Review Guidelines is a living document that changes over time.


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 may not take a deep dive into your app’s functionality, 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 rejectionville. So be sure your designer is familiar with Apple’s most current Human Interface Guidelines.

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, 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.


Location Permissions Explanation4. Requesting Permissions You Don’t Need or Without Explaining Why

It is very important that your app only requests permissions that it actually needs in order to function. This includes permission to use the device camera, GPS, user’s location and more. This is on your developer to ensure compliance. Where you could get innocently snagged for this is if you remove a feature in your app that required certain permissions, and your developer forgets to remove the permission request. Fortunately this is an easy one to resolve so long as Apple doesn’t think you’re abusing it.

Also important – 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 ask for permission to access the user’s location. Now you are expected to provide a more detailed explanation such as the one in this screenshot.


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 everyone.  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. Incomplete 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

Apple is becoming increasingly 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.

This is often referred to as Minimum Functionality: “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 it’s considered too simple to justify an app. Other than catalogs, apps shouldn’t primarily be marketing materials, advertisements, web clippings, content aggregators, or a collection of links.

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 (= Spam)

Thou shalt not spam the app store with apps that are just duplicates of others. You may be guilty of this and not even realize it. For example, are you trying to take an existing app and just rebrand it, giving each their own app store listing? We see this happening for industries like restaurants and car dealerships. Even if the app that you rebrand is your own, you could still get rejected.

This is a scary one to mess around with because if Apple considers your app a duplicate, it’s hard to resolve without making major changes to the functionality of your app. Meaning – you’ll be up shit creek and you may not have a paddle. Your entire business model could fail if you plan to resell this type of app; and you won’t know it until after you’ve invested in development.

Yes, there are definitely apps out there that are duplicates, they somehow get by the gate keepers or find loopholes. Don’t try this unless you’re confident.

Apple says: “If your app has different versions for specific locations, sports teams, universities, etc., consider submitting a single app and provide the variations using in-app purchase.”

Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service fall under the same umbrella and “will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. ” (section 4.2.6)


10. Unacceptable Business Models

Apple outlines a number of unacceptable business models for those who create apps.

View the Unacceptable section of the App Store Review Guidelines to read them and ensure you won’t be breaking any rules.

This includes: “Apps must not force users to rate the app, review the app, download other apps, or perform other similar actions in order to access functionality, content, or use of the app.


If you hire Big Fish to develop your custom mobile application we take care of submitting your app to the App Store for you. And if it gets rejected we’re with you every step of the way. If you’re with an established company that needs a custom application developed please reach out and request a no-obligation consultation today.


'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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