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Avoid rejection from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

TL;DR: "Why do Apple and Google keep rejecting my mobile app?” is a common question iOS and Android app developers ask themselves at the publishing stage of their app development journey. To increase the chances of your app being approved by the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, we walk you through 10 common app store rejection scenarios, and provide you with solutions to avoid them. At a high level, here's what we cover:

  • What are 5 common reasons the Apple App Store rejects apps? 
    At a high level, common reasons the Apple App Store rejects apps are bugs, non-compliance with Apple’s In-App Purchase requirements, inaccurate or non-compliant information, missing information, or bad UI.
  • What are 5 common reasons the Google Play Store rejects apps? 
    Google Play will commonly reject apps that are judged to be inappropriate, full of bugs, bordering on spam, in violation of privacy laws, or pushing the boundaries of copyright laws.

Want the full scoop on how to get your app approved by the App Store and Play Store the first time around?

Read on for some simple solutions to these scenarios.

Is it hard to get a mobile app approved by the Apple App Store?

Getting your app accepted by the Apple App Store can be challenging, but the barriers of entry are for a good cause: Apple wants to ensure a consistent, high-quality app experience for app users across the board, and across iOS devices.

Apple’s rigorous App Store Review Guidelines outline the requirements that apps must adhere to, which can be challenging to navigate if you're unfamiliar with them. However, by taking the time to understand these guidelines — and familiarizing yourself with the top reasons for rejection — you can increase your chances of getting your app accepted.

One of the most common reasons that apps get rejected is for not following Apple’s guidelines for user privacy and data protection, so make sure you have a solid privacy policy outlining how you collect and use data before you submit it for review. 

Another key factor is your app's functionality: it's important to test your app thoroughly before submitting to ensure that your app puts its best foot forward to reviewers.

In total, Apple outlines 28 areas for consideration to help you ensure your app is ready to be accepted by the App Store review process — before you even submit. 

Is it hard to get a mobile app approved by the Google Play Store?

Some would agree that the Google Play Store’s review process is less rigorous than Apple's. It also has a more ‘open’ review process, which means that apps can be published faster – but this is why you may see more lower-quality apps being published in the Play Store.

The Google Play Store also emphasizes app performance and stability more than Apple's stricter guidelines for user privacy and data protection, which may make it easier for your app to be accepted if your data and privacy documentation isn’t as robust as Google demands.

“Why does the Apple App Store keep rejecting my app?”: 5 common reasons (and how to avoid them)

Ultimately, whether your app will be accepted or rejected depends on how well your app aligns with each platform’s guidelines, requirements, and best practices. 

If you’re just starting your research into the topic, here are 5 common pitfalls you’ll want to avoid for each platform, and solutions to fix them before you submit your app for review.

1. Your app is selling digital goods, but it’s not using Apple’s In-App Purchase feature.

Apple’s In-App Purchase system is mandatory for all applications that provide digital content or services for purchase. This includes subscriptions, game currency, and access to premium features. The use of third-party payment platforms in iOS apps (like PayPal) is prohibited, so if you’re converting your website into an app, don’t miss this important integration step.

Solution: The solution is simple! If you plan to offer digital content or services for purchase, integrate Apple's in-app purchasing feature into your iOS app. Not doing so will likely result in rejection from the App Store.

 2. Your app provides signup functionality, but doesn’t include a way to *also* initiate account deletion. 

Providing account deletion functionality is an important aspect of an app’s user experience. It gives users control over their personal data and allows them to delete their information if they no longer wish to use your app. It is also non-negotiable within the App Store’s guidelines.

Solution: Your app must provide users with a simple and easy way to delete their accounts. Include a "Delete Account" button in the application's settings or profile section to satisfy this important user-first requirement.

3. Your app is having performance problems. 

If your app is malfunctioning, not working properly, or performing poorly for the end user, it won't be considered ready for a public user base. Poor performance can include problems ranging from broken links or non-active buttons to issues with your User Interface (UI) not being "app-like" enough in appearance and function.

Solution: Thoroughly test your app before submitting it to the App Store. Testing will help you hone in on potential performance issues and catch and correct fixes that may prevent your app from being accepted. For best results, include beta testing with a limited audience as part of your development process before you send your app for review.

4. Your demo user login isn’t working. 

Apple requires credentials for a demo user to examine the logged-in areas of your app. If the login isn't functioning properly, Apple won't be able to evaluate your app's features and user experience, which will result in rejection. 

A non-functional demo user login may also indicate that your app isn't ready for a user base, so it's best to ensure this feature functions optimally when submitting to the App Store.

Solution: Set up a demo user account with unique login credentials for reviewers, provide clear instructions on how to access the account, and then confirm that the login is functional and provides access to all app features. Then test, test, and test again before submitting your app for review.

5. Your app content includes inaccurate or ‘illegal’ information. 

The App Store has strict guidelines regarding the content that can be distributed on its platform. Apps that include inaccurate or illegal information — which could be something as simple as leaving the word 'demo' in your app title, or mentioning other brands' apps or app stores (like ‘Google Play Store’) in your description — will be rejected. These errors are red flags for Apple, and will need to be corrected before your app is accepted.

Solution: Audit your content before submitting your app. Make sure you review all text, images, videos, and other content within your app to confirm it complies with Apple’s guidelines, and presents no competitor conflict of interest.

“Why does the Google Play Store keep rejecting my app?”: 5 common reasons (and how to avoid them)

1. Your app’s privacy policy isn’t reachable (or it’s simply not working).

Privacy policies are essential to informing users about the collection and use of their personal data – something that the Google Play Store takes very seriously. If your app’s privacy policy isn’t reachable or not working, it can result in rejection from the store.

Solution: Double-check that your privacy policy is properly linked within your app and on your app listing page. The privacy policy should clearly outline how user data is collected, used, and shared. 

If you’re having trouble developing this important document, use an online privacy policy generator to help create something that meets the requirements of the Google Play Store. 

2. Your app’s demo login isn’t working or isn’t accessible. 

Just like the App Store, the Google Play Store requires a demo user login to test and review your app’s functionality during the app review process. If your login isn’t working or isn’t accessible, it can result in your app being rejected.

Solution: Before submitting your app for review, confirm your demo user login credentials are functioning, and provide access to all features of the app. Don’t forget to provide clear instructions on how to access the login.

3. Your app is missing a data privacy declaration.

A data privacy declaration outlines how your app collects and protects user data, and also declares how that data is being used. For instance, if you are using location services in your app, but you didn’t properly declare it or make an adequate case for using it to Google, you may run into problems getting published.

Solution: You need to have a legitimate reason for collecting and using user data, and you need to provide context for the permission before requesting it.

4. Your app falls squarely into Google’s Inappropriate Content category

Gambling promotion, profanity, hate speech, and content promoting violence, harassment, or bullying – plus other sensitive content – all cross Google’s content lines.

Solution: Quite simply, if you want to gain approval from the Google Play Store, avoid producing apps that it deems inappropriate. FYI: there’s also ‘restricted content’ to consider. For example, you can have a financial services app, but it has to align with Google policy as well as geo-specific laws.

5. Your app isn’t playing by Google’s security or copyright rules. 

Google aims to maintain a safe and secure environment for all users, which includes ensuring that copyright laws are being respected. If your app doesn’t clearly meet the related requirements (for instance, if your app requests SMS or call log permission and you don’t have a good reason to ask users for this sensitive content), your app could be rejected. 

Or, if you aren’t following Google’s standard copyright rules, you may need to provide verification of your business’ ownership of the app to Google, provided you own the IP.

Solution: Be prepared to provide Google with all of the relevant documentation related to your ownership of the IP and consult their guidelines surrounding copyright best practices.

Need help getting your app approved by the Apple App Store and Google Play Store?

While getting an app accepted by the App Store or Play Store can be challenging, it’s important to remember that the guidelines are in place to ensure a high level of quality and user experience for everyone who will interact with your app.

By taking the time to understand the guidelines and following best practices for app development, you can increase your chances of success and create an app that users will love.

The other option: a full-service app option from Median that includes app store publishing. That way, you won’t need to worry about app store rejection, because we 100% guarantee that your app will be successfully published (or your money back). 

Interested in learning more? Here’s how we can help.

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