The 14-day App Store approval process isn't the whole story when publishing your Branded App. It usually takes less time than that, though there are factors that could make it take even longer. Rest assured, you have the power to prevent these potential delays! This article gives you tips to help your Branded App publish to the App Store without a hitch.
⭐️ Keep in mind, if this is your first time publishing a Branded App, please make sure you've read our Apple and Google Developer Process Overview guide.
Though this article refers to events, these tips apply to communities as well.
Make it timely
Your Branded App is a big deal, so make sure you allot enough time to build and publish it so it can clear the Apple approval process in time for your event.
Starting the process
We require that you start working on your app no less than 6 weeks before your next event. This will give you plenty of time to customize your app and get your D-U-N-S number and Apple developer account in order.
⭐️ Keep in mind, if you're using Single Sign-On (SSO), start working on the app 8 weeks before your next event.
Make it yours
Apple wants to make sure they're hosting content owned by the people submitting it, and they take Intellectual Property (IP) very seriously. If your app is called "Midwest Grain Expo", and your company's Team Name in your Apple Developer Account is "Huskers United", Apple could flag it as an IP concern.
Here's what you can do:
Prevent IP issues:
When you enroll in the Apple Developer Program, you must set a Team Name. If that name is too different from your app's name, there's a high probability that Apple will reject the app as an IP concern. You have two options if you've already made your Dev account:
Change the app name to more-closely resemble the Dev account Team Name.
Provide us with documentation proving that your Dev account owns the Event. If you have that, send it to us so we can pass it on to Apple. Here are the most common verification methods:
A link to the event website that clearly displays the company name or logo.
Domain registration document showing that you own the domain associated with the event's website.
Other IP ownership documentation.
Make it unique
A common problem people face is when their App Name is already taken. If you try to use the same name as the last event's app, Apple will reject it as a duplicate. One easy way to overcome this issue is to simply rename the app to something else. If you really need to use that other name, and you own the app that currently has it, you can remove the other App from the App Store by following these instructions.
Apple could also reject your app if you set the Home Screen Name too closely to something already in use by Apple itself. For example, it's not a good idea to set the Home Screen Name as "Home".
Make it consistent
App Name and Home Screen Name
Speaking of naming, when setting up your app, you can set both the App Name and the Home Screen Name. If these are too different, it may be difficult for your attendees to find the app on their device after they download it. If you submit your app when the names are too different, we may send you an email asking you to change one or both of the names before we'll send the app for approval.
Here's an example:
Your company's name is "Huskers United", and the first event in your Branded App is "Midwest Grain Expo". If the app's App Store name is "Huskers United", but the Home Screen Name is "Grain Expo", Apple will reject the app. A simple solution is to set the Home Screen Name as "Huskers Expo", which contains part of the App Name.
This example solves the name agreement problem. However, make sure it doesn't cause problems with IP as described earlier in this article.
Make it descriptive
When you write your App Description, it needs to tell users what the app is for. If you simply put "Midwest Grain Expo app", Apple will reject it. Instead, use something like this:
"The Midwest Grain Expo's fundamental mission is to bring together like-minded grain-ologists who are looking to connect in a meaningful way, be inspired, and ultimately co-create - because we are stronger (and smarter) together."
Make it simple
If you set your app's Sign-up and Log-in options with any of the social login options, and your event is Invite-Only, this can cause confusion when people try to sign into your app. For example, if they make their account with LinkedIn, and their LinkedIn account is associated with a email address than the one you used to invite them, they won't be able to log in.
It's safest to choose only Email as your app's Sign-up and Log-in option if your event is Invite-only.
Make it pretty
We get it. You want your app in the hands of your attendees as soon as possible, but don't forget to finish dressing it up before you send it to the party! If you haven't finished customizing your event with a logo and cover image, custom color, or feature icons, or if you're using any placeholder text or images, we'll probably bounce the app back to you.
Why? We take screenshots of your app to show on the App Store and Play Store, so if the event's customization is incomplete, they won't be the best representation of your app, and people might get confused.
Make it free
No, we're not asking you to give away registrations. Any time Apple sees money changing hands in an App, they'll want a piece. Anything in your app that mentions paid services, paywalled content, raffles/sweepstakes/gambling, and even charitable giving could cause some issues.
Oddly enough, the only one of these that's ok to include is raffles and sweepstakes. You simply have to explicitly state that Apple has nothing at all to do with it. Aside from that, simply avoid mentioning money in your app at all.
If you're using the Game feature, specify in your Game rules that Apple isn't a sponsor of or involved with the game or any related prizes or rewards.
Make it public
Apple doesn't accept internal company apps on the App Store unless you go through a container app, which won't work for Branded Apps. Though it's no big deal to use your Branded App for an internal company event, make sure you don't mention that it's internal anywhere in the app. 🤫
Make it healthy
Ok, this one is a little weird. Don't mention COVID-19, Coronavirus, or anything related to a pandemic anywhere in your app. Apple and Google don't like it.
Make it our problem
If you've gone through this article and smoothed out all the possible bumps before submitting, and Apple still sends a rejection notice, simply let us handle fixing it. 😄 If you've followed the steps to grant us access, we'll see the rejection notification and resolve the issue speedily.
Questions? Chat Us or Email firstname.lastname@example.org