Categorized | App Development

App Store Approval Process

Posted on 16 April 2014 by SonHouse

So, I mentioned in my last post that I had just finished my new mobile game for the iPhone and iPad called Zippy Zag.  You can download it here.  It’s free and easy and fun to play.  If you decide to give a try, please leave a review in the App Store.

Anyway, if you ever decide to publish your own game and try and get it into the App Store, I thought you might be interested in hearing about the process.

It’s actually not as difficult as you may think but I would recommend learning just a little about xcode, enough to recognize places in the code where the ads are served, where facebook and twitter are installed etc.

I hired a developer to write the code for this game, which you can find on freelancer, elance or odesk.  I was a bit hesitant at first because I was afraid that a developer would take my idea or not deliver in the end, but after doing this a few times, most of the people I find are very trustworthy, dependable and easy to work with.  If you find a good coder or developer pay them well and on time and you will be pleased with the results.

I’ll write another post on how to develop an App and working with your team but I wanted to discuss in this post what happens after the coding and testing are complete.

So, my coder finished Zippy Zag just last week, on April 7th, so about 9 days ago.  We worked in what are called “Sprints” which are short predetermined amounts of time where the coder completes whatever tasks were discussed in the last meeting.  We started with 5 day sprints then moved to 1 day sprints to finish the game.  Sprints are great because everyone knows what needs to be done and when to have them done by, more on that later in another post.  We used Skype to hold our meetings and due to the time change, we had a standard time that we met, 10am for me, as I’m in Austin Texas and 7pm for him as he lives in Africa.

Anyway,  we finished up the game last Monday morning the 7th, and he sent me the final build code via Skype.  You can allow your developer to access your itunes connect account and submit the game but I like to have a little control over this part of the process so I understand how to do it myself.  During the last few “sprints” I worked on setting up the App in my itunes connect account.  That’s a good thing for the owner of the app to do to prepare for the upload as it involves many non technical things like creating copy for the game, uploading the images and icons etc.  I started working on mine on the 25 of March and you can make changes to anything and everything during the time you add your app up until you go live.  So, I had about 12 days to get everything just the way I wanted in the App Store.

I spent a lot of time on the screen shots of the App.  My graphic artists sent me all the photoshop files so I could work and create my own cool screenshots with text on them etc.  I even animated a few of them using gif files so show on the website here.  That’s another thing you should learn how to use, photoshop or Gimp.  Those tools are extremely valuable in developing just about anything online.  Take a little time and learn the basics, you can learn how to do anything using youtube.  I came up with some rough ideas and then sent the ideas to my graphics guy and he sent back these screenshots, perfect, I thought!

So, on Monday April 7th, the coder sent me the build code using Skype.  I then opened it in xcode on my Macbook Pro, which I had upgraded to the latest OS so I could install the latest version of xcode.  I strongly recommend keeping up with the upgrades as that took a little time, but I worked on that while the coder was finishing up the code.  Oh another thing I did while the coder was busy with the code is make sure I had all the certificates, bundle ID’s and profiles, all of which is done in the member center of your Apple developer account.  More on that in another post….

So last Monday, the 7th, the coder walked me through the last few things we needed to do before we uploaded the “Binary” (the code basically) to the App store.  There were a few places in the code where I needed to input the Bundle ID and search for the certificate and profile but once that was done, we built the final version of the code and uploaded the game.

Whew!  it only took about 15 minutes from the time I received the code to uploading to Apple.  Being prepared for that helped so I strongly recommend preparing everything you can in advance.

It’s sort of like a chef preparing for a great meal, I like to cook as well 😉 They call it “Mise en Place” which is a French phrase for “Putting in Place”.  In other words, preparing your ingredients to cook, in this case preparing everything you need to have done before you upload your binary.  I’ll do another post on that as well as it’s a good habit to get into.

That was it, we uploaded the game and now we had to wait to get it approved.  This was the longest wait of my life!  It takes about 1 week before Apple will review your game and either reject it or approve it.  I’ve done a few other apps but it had been a while so I forgot how painfully long this waiting period is.  Anyway, the week dragged on and I worked on some other projects, consulting, websites, marketing etc.  Basically, everything an online entrepreneur does….all the while checking back in my itunes account only to see “Waiting for Review” in the status section.

Then, on Friday, the 11th I noticed the status changed from “Waiting for Review” to “In Review” at 10:59am, yikes, they were reviewing the App right then and there.  My nerves were shot by then.  I play the guitar to relax, so basically, I jammed the rest of the afternoon to take my mind off of what Apple was doing with my App.  I think I made the rounds to all of my guitars, I have some pretty cool axes, a Strat, a Tele, a Gretsch, Jazz Bass, Uke’s etc.  I forgot to mention that one of things I did was set the App date for release on the 10th!  I did this to put a little pressure on myself and the coder to get this thing finished up early enough to submit the game to get reviewed before this date, we uploaded it before that date, on the 7th but it didn’t go into review until the 11th, which is ok in the end as Apple will just move the release date to whenever they approve the App.

My last few apps only took a few hours from the time they went to “In Review” to being approved but this afternoon dragged on, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, geeez how long is this going to take?  Then, low and behold, at 4:36pm I noticed the status change from “In Review” to “Processing for App Store” 😉  Cue the trumpets! Then at 5:05pm the status changed to “Ready for Sale”…..and the angels sang.

Woo hoo…..Beer time for me!  I proceeded to run around the house jumping up and down, high fiving my wife and anyone else that was around, my son and mother in law and our 3 cats 😉

Stand back! The flood gates opened and then………………………………….nothing! 🙁

I’m not sure what I was thinking, oh yeah, I know what I was thinking.  The App would be number one in the App Store, it is free after all and based on a very popular style of game play, the ad revenue would kick in and I could sit back and retire.  Well that didn’t happen and in fact I couldn’t even find the app in the app store.

What I discovered, or forgot from my last few apps, was that after the status changes to “Ready for Sale”, the app can take up to 24 hours before it appears in the App Store.

So, it wasn’t until Saturday sometime, I’m not even sure when, that Zippy Zag actually went live.  That’s one thing with the App Store, there is no real time analytics, so the only way to tell what was going on was with my ad servers.  I use admob and chartboost to generate revenue in the App, but funny enough Chartboost was having some technical issues and Admob can be slow to report as well.  I had no idea what was going on…it wasn’t until the next day that the dust cleared and I could finally see what had happened.

So what were the stats that first day, well I was pretty disappointed to say the least.

Total downloads were 45 and total revenue was, are you ready!

I say, “ARE YOU READY!”

……..drum roll………………drum roll…………….

Bam!!!  “.01”  That’s right!! folks “.01”

That’s one cent, one penny, 1/100 of a shilling, 1/8 of a peso….good ole honest Abe!

Ends up there was a technical issue with my other Ad server, chartboost, so the ads for that were not showing the first few days.

I’m still a bit disappointed as revenue since the launch date has only been $1.09.

Not much, but I’ve started many projects making less than that which over the years have grown considerably, try $40,698.03!  in one month on for size 😉  That’s my record month 😉

So, I’m not giving up on the App, I’ll keep marketing and if anything else, I’ll continue to learn, which at the end of the day is what makes me successful in online business.

I sort of rambled on a bit here but I wanted to share this part of the process and how I was feeling.  Apple did approve the App and it is Live in the App Store which is an accomplishment in and of itself!  so Kudos to me 😉

Keep working on your projects, never give up and keep moving forward.  Those are the keys to success my friend!

Oh yes, and if you are interested, please download Zippy Zag, it’s free, and I think you will really enjoy the game.  If you like the game, please leave a review in the App Store.  Thank you so much in advance.

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