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Why Apple gets to vote

Sixty percent of the mobile apps that are submitted to Apple are rejected. That means the odds are against you getting your app into the App Store. But, as of the Q3 earnings call, Apple announced that there are currently over 650,000 apps across 23 categories parked there, so clearly, acceptance is not impossible.

Theres an entire manual on the Apple Apps Developer website. This extensive document outlines the rules for complying with Apples very specific requirements. I get questions all the time on how to get an app in the Apple Store so let me give you the top 14 things to do in order to get approval of your app on the first try.

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Because you may have a great idea for an app, but if Apple doesn't think so, the world will never see it. This is what we do day in and day outsaving you time and moneyso you can join that heralded corps of Apple-compliant mobile applications.

Rule #1: Utilize tabs.

Incorporate tabs that link to native functions on the iPhone and iPad platforms. For example, if you incorporate an Email Photo tab in your app, that's going to include the camera function of the Apple device. When you utilize the Messages tab for your push notifications, you are using the native texting function. A QR coupon tab uses the camera function and a GPS coupon tab uses the Map function that is built into the iPad and iPhone.

Rule #2: Dont create a blatant sales tool.

Your app cannot solely be a marketing tool for your business. You cant, for instance, build an app that just lists your services or products. You must be providing a useful function with your app. This distinction represents a fine line for small businesses that are building an app with the intention of marketing themselves. If you want Apples approvaland connection with their massive network of App Store customersyou need to come up with an effective way to encourage your subscribers to come back to your app over and over again. Not only is that Apples requirement, but it also makes sense for your business to have this ongoing relationship with your customers.

Rule #3: Include dynamic content.

Apple looks for dynamic content within an app. That means you must be regularly adding fresh materialnews, product updates, special offersthat entices subscribers to return to your app after downloading it. Ask yourself, Will someone find the need to open my app more than once? If not, Apple will reject it.

There are many ways to add dynamic content to your app. Think about things your customers want to know. Is there a new product coming? Are you expanding your business? Have you changed the business hours? Did you add a new collection? Have you received an award or special recognition, like Best Wood-fired Pizza in the City? Think about your subscribers as a group of loyal customers crowded around your lobby or showroom floor. What could you shout out to them to spark their interest? Have fun and be creative. Remember that your app will be reviewed by a human, not an algorithm, so these people will be asking themselves this very same question!

Rule #4: Make sure it's complete and connected.

The quickest way to get a Reject notice from Apple is to have broken links or blank sections. And, just so you know, including the words Coming soon does not fill in a blank page or tab. In the same way you would (or should) proofread a document before sending it out, check the functionality of every link and review the content on every tab on your app to make sure it's complete.

Rule #5: Dont mention the other guys.

If you want Apples approval of your mobile app, do not mention any other mobile platforms. Any reference to BlackBerry or Android, even if you're saying Apple is superior, will get your app booted from consideration. You cannot bash Apple or compare then in any way to other platforms.

Rule #6: Create multiple, useful tabs.

I recommend creating an application with six to ten different tab functions. Only a few times have I seen an app with three to five tabs make it through the Apple review process. If you think about it, coming up with six to ten tabs is not difficult. Here are eight basic ones to get you started:

  1. Home
  2. About Us
  3. Contact Us
  4. Facebook
  5. Twitter
  6. LinkedIn
  7. Specials/Coupons
  8. Email Us

Rule #7: Keep it clean.

Lots of kids are downloading apps these days. Some of their devices have parental controls installed, but many dont. Apple needs to know that you're keeping an eye out for kids by including non-offensive content. Keep your app G-rated, which Apple considers anything that is appropriate for a child over the age of four.

Rule #8: Be unique.

Apple has more than 550,000 apps in it's App Store. I can assure you they don't need any more fart simulators or flashlight apps. Suffice to say that if your app doesn't do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment that is unique from any apps already there, you're at high risk of rejection. Before you develop your mobile app, do a search of the App Store to see if there's already something similar there. If there is, make darn sure you can differentiate your app with unique, valuable features and functions.

Rule #9: Look professional.

This is not amateur hour. If your mobile app looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, you'll be rejected. If you think you can start out with a practice app to impress your friends, you'll get rejected. The world is full of serious app developers who don't want their quality work in the same place as noticeably novice programs. Get serious, or get out.

Rule #10: Avoid controversy.

If you want to make a bold statement to the world, don't expect Apple to give you a platform in it's App Store. Apple rejects apps for any content or behavior that they believe to cross over the line of propriety. Where is that line drawn? Well, as a Supreme Court justice once said, I'll know it when I see it. Use good judgment and stay away from controversial subjects, questionable content, and just, plain inappropriate behavior.

Rule #11: Function with both the iPhone and iPad.

If you want Apple to accept your mobile app, your program must run on both the iPhone and iPad without modificationand not just the latest, greatest version. You need to program the app for the previous generations of the devices and make the resolution compatible with the iPhone 3GS and original iPad as well as all that came after it.

Rule #12: Size matters.

Any mobile app that is larger than 20 MB will not download over cellular networks, so Apple is not going to approve it. Thats a wise requirement. Just like the seatbelt law is designed to protect you against yourself, this less-than-20-MB is for your benefit as well. If you we're allowed to put a huge app out there, your subscribers would be very angry over the time and data it takes, and you would be deleted before the download was finished.

Rule #13: Dont keep secrets.

I know of quite a few people who thought they we're more clever than the folks who review apps for Apple. Ha! Do you think Apple achieved it's global success by allowing cracks in it's armor? Any type of secret functionality will immediately get you bounced. If your tab says that it does something in particular, like present special offers, and instead it takes you to a website when you open the link or, even worse, has no special offers, then the tricks on you. Apple will make you disappear.

Rule #14: Get consent.

Apple demands that you obtain user consent before collecting and transmitting user data or sending push notifications. Its simple to program the permission function into your app, so just remember what your mother always told you and just say, Please.

If you get rejected

Apple has a review board so that if your app is rejected, you can appeal to this group. Like I said, apps are assessed by people, and people make mistakes, so there's a possibility the rejection can be overturned. At the very least, you'll learn why your app wasnt approved and can perhaps make the necessary adjustments to the program to gain Apples blessing. Just be sure to remain calm and professional. Fight the urge to take your case to the media and attempt to trash the company. Trust me. Thats not a wise move. You need the lead generation power of the App Store, so either play by Apples rules or don't play at all.

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