5 Reasons Apple Rejected Your Mobile App Submission

July 8th, 2015

Every major and mainstream app store has its own set of protocols and standards. As ecosystems mature and attract more app developers, new and evolving submission standards become inevitable.

Of the major app store services, Apple’s App Store is the oldest, while Google Play is the largest, with over 1.5 million applications.

Codal has compiled a list of best practices for the submission of apps to Apple’s App Store to make your life a little easier.

1. Your app must adhere to the App Store Review Guidelines.

Both Apple’s iOS and Mac App Stores require that developers adhere closely to the App Store Review Guidelines, outlined here and here. Failure to meet or exceed Apple’s expectations is likely to result in rejection.

Many of the expectations outlined in the Review Guidelines are written in an extremely casual language, making them particularly vague. Consider this passage from the Introduction:

We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.

Should your app be rejected, you may appeal the rejection, once you have addressed Apple’s concerns.

As mentioned in the Review Guidelines, Apple strives to maintain a higher ratio of high to low quality apps, so they pay significant attention to compliance with Apple standards. Apple will not hesitate to reject your app submission on the grounds of even a minor violation.

Consider the following rule:

  • Rule 3.7: Apps with Category and Genre selections that are not appropriate for the App content will be rejected.

2. Your app ought to remain consistent with Human Interface Guidelines.

In Mobile UX – Current Best Practices & Future Considerations, we outlined the importance of maintaining a consistent UX design. Apple is a strong proponent of this concept, as it will not approve entry to the App Store unless an app is consistent with the design cues of the native ecosystem.

Developers ought to follow the iOS & Mac App Store Human Interface Guidelines, in order to mitigate the risk of rejection.

3. Consider the competition for entry into the App Store.

Due to the immensity of the iOS App Store, attempted entrants are often faced with a lot of competition. Statista measured App Stores across platforms, and in their latest report they account for over 1.4 million apps available for download on the App Store.

There’s a reason the App Store’s slogan is “There’s an app for that.”

The number of apps on the App Store can be put into perspective by taking into consideration rule 2.11 in the iOS App Store Review Guidelines:

  • Rule 2.11: Apps that duplicate Apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them, such as fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra Apps.

The statistical probability that there exists an app in the App Store that closely resembles the functionality of your app is enormous. As such, developers ought to ensure that their ideas are thoroughly original if they hope to submit an app to the App Store.

4. Understand how you are using Apple trademarks and copyrights.

Apple’s legal department is notoriously vigilant, and far from forgiving. Apps that incorrectly use Apple’s trademarks and copyrights, that mention other App distribution platforms, or that do not adhere to the iOS Developer Program License Agreement will be rejected.

Consider the following rules:

  • Rule 3.1: Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.
  • Rule 8.1: Apps must comply with all terms and conditions explained in theGuidelines for Using Apple Trademarks and Copyrights and the Apple Trademark List
  • Rule 8.2: Apps that suggest or infer that Apple is a source or supplier of the App, or that Apple endorses any particular representation regarding quality or functionality will be rejected
  • Rule 8.3: Apps that appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product, interface, or advertising theme will be rejected
  • Rule 8.4: Apps that misspell Apple product names in their App name (i.e., GPS for Iphone, iTunz) will be rejected

Should you feel that another app in the App Store has infringed upon your intellectual property rights, you can contact Apple’s legal team.

5. Consider the most common app rejections.

Before you develop your app, you ought to familiarize yourself with some of the most common issuesthat developers face when they submit apps for review. Some of these issues are:

  • Crashes and bugs
  • Poor UX & UI design
  • Broken Links
  • Placeholder Content
  • Incomplete Information
  • Advertisements

By addressing some of these common concerns prior to app submission, you may drastically reduce the time it takes to go through the review process.

Keval Baxi


Keval Baxi is the Chief Executive Officer at Codal. He oversee's the corporate direction and strategy of the company, focusing on innovation and customer experience. Outside of Codal, his interests include running and exploring new Chicago restaurants.


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