So, You’ve built your own business app, and now it’s time for you to submit the app to Apple’s app store. Here’s the entire process of submitting an app to the iOS app store.
One may feel that submitting the app is a piece of cake, but trust me, it’s not at all easy. Once the app development process for your business’ digitization is completed, the next logical step is to submit the app to the App Store.
Just to begin with, you need an Apple Mac system with the latest version of macOS and a credit card to pay the app submission fee. Besides that, you’ll also need a trusted and reliable development software. For that, you can install Xcode software from the Mac App Store.
In this blog, we’ll discover the complete process of submitting an app to the Apple app store. We’ll help you wade through the steps and do the needful to launch your business app.
Before beginning the submission process for your app, you should first do proper testing of the app and check it across multiple versions of Apple devices for bugs and user experience.
Steps To Submit Your App To The App Store
Here is a complete roadmap to submit and launch your app in the Apple App Store.
Step 1: Make Your iOS Developer Account Step
2: Make Sure Your App Follows the App Store’s Guidelines Step
3: Download Xcode From Apple App Store Step
4: Getting the Precise Certificates, IDs & Profiles Step
5: Registering Your Devices Step
6: Create The App IDs Step
7: Creating Various Provisioning Profile Step
8: Running Your App in a Physical iOS Device Step
9: Meet iTunes Connect
10: Submitting Your App in the App Store
Step 1: Make Your iOS Developer Account
First, you’ll need to create a developer account with Apple. With this account, you will sign up for the Developer Program. You can register your account as an individual or a company. There will be some documentation that you need to send to Apple before getting your account register.
You need to do all this well in advance before you start the work for submitting your business app.
Before publishing an app, you need to access the App Store Connect and choose the Agreements, Tax, and Banking section. You’ll have to accept the agreements and set up your banking info to get paid when your app starts making money.
You will also need to set up your tax info based on the country your business is established in. But all these documentation will come later, so we’ll talk about it when the time comes.
Right now focus on creating your developer account with Apple. With the App Store Connect account, set your role as Admin, Technical, App Manager, or Developer to get the rights to upload a build.
At the end of this step, you'll be presented with the cost and summary for the account purchase. You can go for the automatic renewal option, which saves having to remember to renew your developer account every year.
It’s important to set auto-renewal to prevent any chance of your apps becoming unavailable due to inactive developer account.
Step 2: Make Sure Your App Follows the App Store’s Guidelines
The app should be in line with Apple’s app submission guidelines. Apple offers a humongous collection of apps, about 2.2 million active apps at present. But getting into the largest app store in the mobile world is not that easy.
Still, there is a step before you begin the process of submission for your iOS app.
Before approaching the Apple App Store, every publisher should study and understand all of Apple’s requirements and guidelines to smooth out the app submission process. Apple has always been known to be very strict when it comes to reviewing and accepting new apps. Even a small hitch in the process can cause your app to be rejected.
Apple has always been know for its high standards and exceptional user experience, so Apple needs to be 100% sure and confident about your app before including it into the app store.
Step 3: Download Xcode From Apple App Store
After paying for your iOS Developer registration, you’ll get an email from Apple like this:
The next step is to download Xcode in the Apple App Store on your application dock. Apple places the most recent non-beta version of Xcode in the App Store for its developer users to download. Being a non-technical founder, you’ll only be using Xcode very briefly, but there are many other excellent features that developers can use.
Once you provide your credentials and sign in, you’re finally in the Developer Center. The Developer Center has a lot of useful elements like programming guides, downloadable code, useful documentation, videos, and a constructive developer forum.
Once you get your developer account sanctioned, you need to make sure Xcode knows about your account. You can add your Apple account’s ID in Xcode under Preferences -> Accounts. From here on, Xcode can handle most of the provisioning issues for you.
Step 4: Getting the Precise Certificates, IDs & Profiles
iOS devices can only run the apps approved by Apple and installed through the App Store. This is done by requiring a signed Apple app Certificate for every app run in the iOS devices. The system verifies any app that an iOS device tries to install. The apps installed from the Apple App Store comes bundled with a certificate which allows it to be installed.
So, how will you get this certification? We’ll tell you.
You must have the Developer Center page open in front of you, open the Certificates, IDs & Profiles and click on the gear icon in the middle of the page. You’ll need to generate two certificates:
(a) one for your development profile
(b) One for your distribution profile
You can request the certification through Xcode or manually.
Choose the iOS App Development option as the certificate type and click the continue button. The portal will guide you on how to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) using Keychain Access. Just open the Keychain Access app on your Mac system, fill your personal details, choose "save to disk" and click the continue button.
You can see the CSR is created. Now you have your certificate for your development profiles; you need to create two more certificates for your production or distribution profiles. You can generate the rest of the two certificates by following the same process.
Step 5: Registering Your Devices
Now comes the step to register your devices with the developer account. On the left-side menu in your browser, you’ll see an option called “Devices”. Click Devices and then click the “+” button. Every Apple device has a Unique Device ID (UDID). You need to get the UDID of the device that you want to add to your developer account.
You can get the UDID of a device by using Xcode’s organizer or through iTunes. We’ll take a look at the iTunes method to get your device’s UDID number:
1. Plug your device to your computer and open iTunes.
2. Select the device from the menu bar under the player controls, and iTunes will display some basic information.
3. Click on the serial number in the menu, and it will change to your device’s UDID.
4. Copy the UDID number to your clipboard.
5. Go to your browser, enter a name for your device and paste the UDID.
6. Click Register to confirm the registration.
Your Apple device is now registered to your developer's account and will appear in your list of devices.
You can repeat the same process to register additional devices belonging to you, your employees or friends.
Step 6: Create The App IDs
Your devices are registered, so now you need to create an App ID for your business app to submit to the App Store. By now, you must have figured it out that Apple needs you to register every element as a unique entity to make the app submission easy.
Continuing the trend, every app you build will also need its own unique App ID.
The App ID is made of a 10-character “seed.” The prefix of the seed is generated by Apple, while the suffix by you (the app owner). This 10-character “seed” is defined as a Bundle ID search string.
There are two different types of App IDs option:
(a) Explicit App ID
(b) Wildcard App ID
Explicit App IDs are used when you need to incorporate services like iCloud, Push Notifications, and in-app purchases. While Wildcard App IDs are used when you want to use the same App ID for multiple apps.
Now it’s time to create App IDs:
1.On the side menu, click Identifiers\App IDs.
2.Fill out the description (The seed ID will usually be your Team ID.)
3.Now, select the type of App ID you need (Explicit or Wildcard App ID), and enter the Bundle ID including the name of the app at the end.
4.Click Register at the bottom.
You are now ready to go to the next step, creating the provisioning profiles.
Step 7: Creating Various Provisioning Profile
The next part is creating a Provisioning Profile. You’ll be using the iOS provisioning profile to bring certificate, an App ID and device identifiers together.
There are two provisioning profiles to build here:
(a) Development Provisioning Profile
(b) Distribution Provisioning Profile
Process of creating Provisioning Profile:
1.On the right side of the screen, click on the +
2.Choose iOS App Development, then click Continue.
3.Now you select an App ID for this new profile. Choose the one you just created in the previous step and click Continue.
4.The next screen will ask you to select the certificates for the current profile. You can add multiple members of your team in this step, and the click Continue.
5.Then select the relevant device(s) from the ones registered earlier, enter a name for this profile.
6.The final page shows your generated Developer Provisioning Profile. Click Download to get the certificate.
You can create the Distribution Provisioning Profile by following the same steps.
You’ll not need the distribution profile until you’re ready to submit the app for approval, but getting it made beforehand is beneficial.
Step 8: Running Your App in a Physical iOS Device
Now comes a momentous point of the app submission process. It's time to run your app on a physical device. For this, you need to change the value of Code Signing Identity of your registered device from “iOS Developer” to “iPhone Developer: XXX” as it appears in the drop-down menu.
Go back to general settings and make sure that the value of the iOS version is lower than, or equal to, the iOS version currently installed on your test device. This way, you can test the compatibility of the app across various iOS versions.
Now, connect your iOS device to your Mac system and select the app from the drop-down menu on the top left. Then click the Play button and wait (it may take some time on the first run.)
Congratulations!! You just ran your app on a real device. Enjoy the moment; the hard part is done.
Remember that setting the Deployment Target to the right older version is essential. For instance, you choose iOS version 9.0, but the app uses an API that is only available on iOS version 10, then your app will crash.
Step 9: Meet iTunes Connect
Do you remember a big Gear Icon that you clicked in Step 4? There was another icon to the right, of an adapter plug. Now it’s time to learn more about iTunes Connect.
Go to this URL: https://developer.apple.com/membercenter and log in with your iOS Developer credentials. You’ve already completed the Gear box’s work; this time click on the iTunes Connect one. Once you're in, you’ll now see the main iTunes Connect dashboard.
Are you thinking what iTunes connect does? Let me enlighten you. If you want to get paid for your apps, iTunes is what makes it happen. There are a few documentation and information filling processes to be done here, which may vary from country to country.
Click on the Agreements, Tax and Banking option. You will have to sign the contract for paid applications electronically. This contract covers all terms of payment. Once signed click Request.
On the next page, you’ll view the pricing matrix. Once you have read through and understand the pricing matrix, you have to agree to Apple’s terms to continue. Select the checkbox and click Submit.
Fill the Contact Information
1. Click the first "Set Up" button under Contact Info to set up your contact information.
2. Select Add New Contact and add yourself as the new contact and click Save when done.
Fill the Bank Information
1. Now click ‘Set Up’ under the Bank Info. Option.
2. Select Add Bank Account and choose the appropriate Bank Country and click Next. The steps from here may differ based on the country that you live in.
3. Enter the ABA Routing Number of your banking account, and click Next. Your bank’s ABA Routing number will be on your checks or statements.
4. Next, you must look for your bank’s branch, if there isn’t one in your area then select the closest branch and click Next.
5. Fill out all the details for your account and click Next. All the needed bank information will be on your checks or statement.
6. Confirm all the information submitted till now, check the box indicating that it’s correct, and click Save.
Fill the Tax Information
1. Under Tax Info, click ‘Set Up’.
2. You must complete the US Tax form regardless of the other forms you need to fill additionally based on your country of operations.
3. Click Set Up under U.S. Tax Forms and fill out all the required information.
4. Verify that all the given information is correct and click Submit.
5. The Status field in the Contracts will be showing “Processing” – Apple is verifying the information you provided.
6. Once the verification is done; you may even see a deposit in your account followed by a withdrawal of the same amount. That is to confirm that your account is active and working.
If something is unclear in this section, you can download and check out the W-9 instructions from the upper-left corner of the page.
Step 10: Submitting Your App in the App Store
Now comes the gem on the crown, the step that you’ve been waiting for all along.
There are certain items you’ll need to have sorted before submitting your iOS app:
- Your App’s Name
- The App’s Description
- Your App’s Icon (Size 1024x1024 pixels)
- Screenshots of the App (details about sizes can be found here)
All set with the above things? Now click My Apps in iTunes Connect
1.Click ‘+’ and select New App.
2.You’ll need to provide your company name which will show along with your app. Remember that you cannot change it in the future.
3.Click the App Information option and fill out the Category field.
5.Go through the rest of the settings and set the appropriate ones for your app. Once satisfied click Save.
Next comes, Pricing and Availability. Select ‘All Prices and Currencies’ to get information about all the price tiers. Choose the price tier that you wish to apply or indicate that your app will be free if you want it to be free for iOS app users.
Remember that Apple takes 30% while you get the remaining 70% of the price tier you chose.
Process of Submitting the App
Until now, what we did was the preparation for app submission. Now comes the actual app submission process.
1.Click ‘1.0 Prepare for Submission’ on the left side menu bar.
2.Upload your app’s icon and screenshots. Just drag and drop the screenshots over for each device type and click Save once done.
3.Next comes filling the app description. The users will read, learn about the app, and decide to download it based on what you’ve written here. Make sure to properly form the app description with your app’s name and relevant keywords for iTunes’ search engine to index it.
4.Then enter the URL for your website support page.
5.Skip the Build section for now (we’ll get to this soon) and scroll down to General App Information.
6.Set the app’s version number. Make sure it’s the same as in your app’s Xcode project.
7.Next, you need to fill out a copyright notice, a contact email and affiliated websites.
8.Enter the app category appropriate for your app.
9.The App Review Information section is critical to get your app a fair chance at the app review. Use the Notes area to provide information you want the app reviewer at Apple to know. Click “Submit for Review” to send the app ahead for apple’s review process.
You may have noticed that there is a message flashing saying “There were one or more errors on the page.”
Well, that’s because you haven’t yet actually uploaded the actual app. Remember the Build section you skipped earlier? Now you upload your app using Xcode.
Submit The App With Xcode
I know you must be tired by now, but the good news is that it’s the final step and it’s is surprisingly easy considering what you’ve been through already.
1.Go to Xcode and choose Generic iOS Device in the scheme chooser and select Product\Archive.
2.If there is no issue with the app build, Xcode will open the Organizer window with your app in the Archives tab. Xcode would have already validated against most problems, so you don’t need to click Validate here.
3.Just click Upload to App Store button.
4.Next window prompt will be App Store distribution options. All the checkboxes should be ticked by default. Just click Next.
5.Now you would be asked to select your distribution certificate and provisioning profiles. Select the certificates that you had created earlier, and click Next.
6.Finally, you’ll be shown a summary page of the app. Read it thoroughly for any mistakes, if all is good click Upload to submit.
Once the upload is done, you’ll see the following message:
Your app is submitted to the App Store for Review.
What to do now?
You’re done submitting the app, but there is still a small step left. Go back to iTunes Connect, scroll down to the Build area you skipped earlier and click Select a build before you submit your app. Go to the build Xcode that you just uploaded and click Done.
Click Save at the top right and then click Submit for Review. Here you’ll be asked some questions. Answer them all and click Submit. You receive emails to your registered email ID from iTunes Connect telling that your app has been uploaded and is waiting for review.
Now you just have to wait for Apple to approve your app! It will be done within a few days, and within minutes after your app is reviewed and passed, it’s launched in the Apple App Store.
Congratulations! You’ve come from no Apple Developer Account to successfully launching your first iOS app.