Apple Guidelines & Rejection Fixes

Last Updated: Aug 02, 2016 01:44PM PDT
Apple has a very strict approval process. As a result, it's inevitable that you'll face a rejection—but a fixable one!—at one point or another. Below, you'll learn how to check out rejection reasons through iTunes Connect, and we'll detail some of the most common ones we see.



Checking Your App's Rejection Message


First, read the reasoning behind Apple's rejection by logging into your iTunes Connect account.


1. Click My Apps.




2. Select your rejected app from the list to proceed to view the app listing page.


3. A red highlighted message will appear toward the top of the listing. Click "Resolution Center" to view the rejection message.




4. Here you'll find a rejection code with a short description. Apple often attaches screenshots as well. If you understand the reason for the rejection, you can make any necessary changes in iTunes Connect or within the app itself, then resubmit on your own. If you're unclear on the reason for the rejection, please email our support team with the app code and rejection description.

Note: We recommend always coming to us first if you need clarification. We've seen (almost) every rejection in the book over the years, and we're more than prepared to help.




Common Rejections & How to Fix Them


For a full list of rejection reasons, reference their App Store Review GuidelinesIf your App is rejected by Apple or you don't believe it can pass their review process, you can still publish for Android and HTML5! HTML5 publishes are automatic, and Google tends to have less strict guidelines.



Functionality


2.9: Apps that are “beta”, “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected

Translation: Somewhere within your app is text that reads "beta, test, demo, trial, coming soon, etc." As a result, Apple thinks your app is incomplete and wants to see a finished product.

Fixes: Remove this text and put in real content—the more complete the better. There should be no filler or demo text within an app when being submitted to Apple. Taking the extra time to complete it in full means less time waiting for Apple's approval.



2.12: Apps that are not very useful, are simply web sites bundled as apps, or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected

2.13: Apps that are primarily marketing materials or advertisements will be rejected


Translation: Apple thinks your app focuses primarily on marketing & promotion of the business and doesn't foster user engagement. Having a lot of Info & Web Site features that highlight the business but don't provide functionality will often lead to one of these rejections.

Fixes: Try to remove or condense your Info & Web Site features (aim for 3 or less each), plus add as much native functionality as possible—while still being relevant to the business (no need for a car finder feature in an app for a DJ). Make sure there's a clearly illustrated purpose for the app and it contains useful and dynamic content. Coupon, contact-based, and media-oriented features are easy wins.



2.16: Multitasking Apps may only use background services for their intended purposes: VoIP, audio playback, location, task completion, local notifications, etc.

Translation: Your app most likely included Audio Background Play, a setting that should only be activated if there's an active Music or Podcast feature within your app. Without these features, Apple sees the background play feature as irrelevant to your app.

Fixes: The app will need to be rebuilt and resubmitted without Audio Background Play. To avoid this, you can alternatively enable a Music or Podcast feature and we can resubmit the existing app we built. Just write into us in with your preference, and we can take care of it. For the future, also make sure to leave this box unchecked in Step 5 if it doesn't apply to your app.



Metadata


Note: With metadata rejections, your app maintains its spot in Apple's queue, so the review timeline doesn't start from scratch. Generally, something just needs to be changed in iTunes Connect.


3.1: Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected

Translation: Your app includes Android, Windows, or other platform mentions, either in text or image form. Usually, this applies to the app description, the background images, or the splash loading screen.

Fixes: You'll need to remove the problem mentions and resubmit. Usually this is an easy fix, but we still suggest writing into us to confirm once you've resolved the issue, so we can verify and resubmit.



3.8: Developers are responsible for assigning appropriate ratings to their Apps. Inappropriate ratings may be changed/deleted by Apple

Translation: Your app contains images or text that warrants an elevated rating. The most common ones are alcohol/drug content, nudity, violence, etc., but there are some tricky ones, like unlimited access to web content (just providing a web link), that are a bit less straightforward.

Fixes: Simply upping the rating for the appropriate category will do the trick. Again, we can take care of this for you. Just send us the rejection message and we can log in and adjust.



User Interface


10.6: Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good it may be rejected

Translation: Apple thinks the quality/user experience of your app is lacking. This typically means the layout/ navigation is poorly structured, the pictures are highly pixelated or stretched, or it simply appears much time wasn't spent refining the design.

Fixes: Run through your app feature by feature using our native preview app. Low-quality images should be replaced, and any specific items they mentioned should be addressed as well. Make sure background images appear well, and your color scheme is simple & aesthetically pleasing. Text should be easy to read and not cut off. If your app was uploaded for iPhone and iPad, we can also try resubmitting for iPhone-only. Poor images will only look worse on the iPad as they're enlarged, and Apple places a bit less emphasis on iPhone-only apps. However, the previously mentioned tips are best.



Scraping and Aggregation


12.3: Apps that are simply web clippings, content aggregators, or a collection of links, may be rejected

Translation: Apple thinks your app provides a limited set of features and is basically a web congregate within an app shell. In other words, you have too many Web Site features in your app.

Fixes: Immediately condense or remove a good portion of your Web Site features. Add in as much native functionality as possible while still being relevant to the business.



Charities and Contributions


21.2: The collection of charitable donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS

Translation: Your app contains a link to a site that allows users to make donations. Apple requires links like these to open in a browser, rather than within the app.

Fixes: Either remove the link or check the box for "Does this URL contain donations?" This checkbox is under the web view's settings in Step 2 of the Web Site feature. Once checked, the site will open in Safari, rather than within the app.