Usually, I begin my independent project with a blog post containing a detailed plan for the semester. This time, I feel compelled to write about an interesting experience with submitting my app to Apple’s App Store and getting it rejected twice by the App Review Board.
As frequent readers of this blog might already know, I released Argus, a machine learning app on iOS that performs peripheral recognition, about two weeks ago. I promised in a press release that it will be available on the App Store by the late-January. To meet the deadline, I had to complete all the submission materials and allow enough time for the App Review Board to review my app.
In retrospect, completing the “Preview” section was almost excruciating. Most professional app developers do not simply upload device-generated screenshots to this section. They often present device images and marketing descriptions together with the screenshots. For instance, the Snapchat app developer included marketing text describing the app as “a camera made for communicating in the moment.” Thanks to the recent revamp of the App Store, preparing materials for the “Preview” section was much easier than before. Instead of having to create a screenshot for each screen size (more than 10 variants), I only had to create one screenshot for each device family (i.e. iPad and iPhone).
Next, I needed to submit app description. It is generally easy to write app descriptions. However, app descriptions can become extremely difficult to write when the app is localized. While Argus was only available in English, my other app–”Count: A Simple Counter“–is localized in Chinese, meaning that I had to create localized description for both Simplified and Traditional Chinese.
Before I could submit my app, I had to perform App Store search engine optimization (ASO), that is creating the right keywords so that the app is more likely to be discovered by customers. Again, this process is much harder if the app is localized because of the need to create localized ASO queries for multiple App Store regions.
After uploading the binary of Argus from Xcode and completing a series of final checks, I hit the “Submit for Review” button. Before the App Store revamp, I had to wait for at least seven days before the App Review Board could even start reviewing my app. This time, in less than a day after I submitted the app, I heard back from the Review Board. A minute ago, I logged into my iTunes Connect account in excitement. The rejection message left me completely in shock. I could not understand why my app was rejected for being “incomplete.”
My original thought was that the app was tested on an iPad by the Review Board even though it was only optimized to run on iPhone. Therefore, I tested it on an iPad and resubmitted it to the App Store. Again, in less than a day later, I received another rejection message from the App Review Board, citing the same reason that the app was “incomplete.” I became more and more baffled and shocked as I was reading the message, until I reached the bottom where I found an additional comment, stating that the app does not “display” any information when either of the buttons on the main interface was pressed.
Well, the app was never meant to display anything; it speaks what it sees. I immediately appealed to the Review Board, explaining that Argus uses a speech synthesizer to utter its recognition results and suggest that the device be unmuted when during testing. Soon later, the app re-entered “In Review” status and soon became “Ready for Sale.” To clear up the confusion, I rewrote the app description and added a UI element that presents recognition results to the app.
“Argus – Peripheral Recognizer” is now available for free on the App Store.
App Store Icon. Logopedia, Fandom, logos.wikia.com/wiki/File:AppStoreIcon11.svg. Accessed 26 Jan. 2018.