Publishing an app in the app store

In his latest blog for us, Joining the Dots award winner Paul Archer talks about how to publish an app. 

Given that iOS 8 was released last month it seems like an appropriate time to comment on the various app stores and what that means for developing music products and apps for them.

Starting right at the beginning, there are two main players: Google Play and the Apple App Store.  They both do the same thing in that they provide a market place to find, discover and download new apps for the phone or tablet.  However, the way they work is fundamentally different.  Google Play has no approval system and Apple App store does.  What this means is if you want to make an app and get users to be able to download it from Google Play, you simply upload the code, some information and screen shots, and within a matter of hours it will become available.  This is great for developers and for users because it’s cheaper and easier.  However, the drawback is that if there is a major bug or issue with the app, it will not be found until the users begin to download and use the app. This can be a problem because the biggest drawback of developing for Android is the fact that there are so many different screen sizes and device that you have to make sure you app works on, which makes testing more difficult.  Apple devices only had three different screen variations, (now five if you include the iPhone 6) meaning you can easily test.

Apple, however easy it is to test for, have an approval process where they check all the apps they upload to ensure they:

  • Work
  • Are bug free
  • Are suitable for the age group they target
  • Fulfil Apple’s terms and conditions

The process normally takes around 7 days or so, sometimes more and sometime less depending on the number of apps being approved at the time.  As a user this ensures iPhone apps (to use their phrase) ‘just work’ and are largely bug free, but it also means that your experience is heavily curated by Apple.

As a developer this can be very frustrating.  Updates and fixes can be uploaded instantly to Android, but can take weeks when working on iOS, or worse – my longest took 5 months!

I was trying to get a scavenger hunt app published.  Initially it took 5 weeks to get it looked at because there was a backlog of apps top be processed at the time, but it then got rejected because someone at Apple decided that it wasn’t suitable for their audience.  It seemed that the main reason for this was because our company is called Daredevil Project and they had decided the game would encourage people to do dangerous things.  It was clear that the nature of the app was never explored (it did nothing of the sort – it was a picture scavenger hunt game) but after another two rejections I finally got on the phone with the representative in California.  She told me that Apple does not approve ‘Truth or Dare’ games (a quick search in the app store find over 250 games under ‘Truth or Dare so this is clearly not true or perhaps a more recent rule change) and refused to listen to any arguments that the game was nothing like ‘truth or dare’.  With months of work on the line, my last ditch effort was to delete the game and upload it again from scratch to start the process again.  The game was exactly the same, but this time it was seen by another individual and passed first time with flying colours.

So if at first you don’t succeed, delete it and try again!

Often you don’t have a choice – most companies want to have a product in both stores.  If this is the case, my advice is to make sure you allow a month or so to get approval from Apple before you plan to launch. Whilst you wait, you can test on every Android device you can get your hands on!