These past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to submit a new app to the appstore for my new startup. While I’ve submitted several apps in the past, this was the first time I had an app that I needed to submit for a deadline, so speed was of the essence. For PR purposes, you may have a date in time that you want to start promoting your app. It is in your interest to get as many downloads as you can over a short period of time (ideally the same day) if you want to rank in the charts, so having your app ready for download on your advertised day is crucial.
Here are some of the tricks I learned in the process:
- Check the current speed of app store review submissions. Here’s a good site that shows the approximate review times of apps currently being submitted. Be careful with this one since it refers to events in the past and not present. So for example, at the time of this blog post it shows this 11 days for apps. App store review times may have improved or gotten worse since then, but it still gives you a rough idea of how long it’s taking other apps to get approved at the moment. This way you can schedule enough time for your submission.
- Set the launch date with Apple. When submitting your app, you can choose to have the app automatically released when it is approved, or have it released on a specific day. So for example, if you wanted to launch your product in 3 weeks, you could submit your app now, but tell them not to release your app until the launch date in 3 weeks. Obviously this would only work if the launch date is AFTER they have approved your app. If the approval goes past your release date, then there’s not much you can do. This of course doesn’t make the approval any faster, but is useful for advertising your grand launch date.
- Ask for an expedited review. Not many people know this (I didn’t). Apple has a form you can fill out to ask for an expedited review of your app. They take a couple of days to review your request before deciding if your circumstance warrants an expedited review or not. They may also choose to ignore you if you regularly make such requests. If your circumstance is genuine though, you can do so.
- Create a test account. If your app requires a user to login before they can do anything in the app, then create a test account for the Apple review team to use. Otherwise you risk them not seeing parts of the app that require a user to be logged in. Include the test account details in the review notes (see next point).
- Fill in the review notes. Whenever you’re submitting an app, it doesn’t hurt to fill in details in the review notes. Even stating things that may be obvious won’t hurt (better safe than sorry). For example in my case, I had to state that my app was only for release in Taiwan, and so would not show any content in the US (where the reviewers were located).
- Include a video. If there are parts of the app that the review team won’t be able to see (eg. future levels of a game or location specific features) then include a demo video that showcases the other parts.
The bottom line is that the easier you make it for the app review team to understand your app, then the faster they will take to approve it. So any steps you can take during the submission process to help them will end up helping you.
Good luck with your app submission!