You’re one step closer. You’ve developed a high-quality app. You’ve networked within your niche, built a list of contacts, and kept them aware of your app’s impending launch. Now it’s time to send your app out to the world.
Anyone with an Apple product has access to the App Store. The App Store operates as a third-party reseller of your app. Think of yourself as a manufacturer and the App Store as a retailer. Apple handles most of the cumbersome aspects of app retailing, like payments, hosting, bandwidth, updates, and notifications. If you sell through the App Store, you don’t have to worry about registrations and licenses because Apple has to pre-approve the app before putting it on the App Store.
The App Store also offers extra marketing benefits. There is a (very) slight chance that you could be featured by Apple, which would provide a huge sales boost. More likely is the opportunity to move up the “Top Selling” lists. As you sell more apps, you move up the sales rank list. As you move up the list, you become visible to more people and, subsequently, sell more apps. Success breeds success.
All of these benefits come with a price. Apple charges an annual fee for enrollment in its development program. For most developers, that fee is $99. Apple also takes a 30% cut of all app sales. Think of this cut as Apple’s markup for handling customer interactions. The question to ask is, Is 30% a fair price for Apple to handle nearly all of the distribution and customer interaction? For most developers, the answer to that question is “Yes.” But it really doesn’t matter. If you develop for Apple products you don’t really have a choice.
When you are ready to market the app, the next step is to get your app approved and available for sale on the App Store. After that, you need to optimize your app’s online presence to show up in searches and encourage potential users to press the “Buy” button. We’ll spend the next few pages walking through a step-by-step guide for App Store launch success.
You will need to enroll in Apple’s iOS Developer Program. (There is also a Mac Developer Program, so don’t be confused.) You must be enrolled before you can submit an app for approval. The program includes App Store distribution and costs $99 per year. The program has two other categories; one for enterprises (large organizational developers) with a larger fee and one for universities (for teaching and learning iOS development) that is free. The basic Developer Program will apply to the most.
Start the process by going to:https://developer.apple.com/program/ios/.
Click the “Enroll Now” button and follow the steps to create a user ID and password. After enrollment, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Apple to verify your email address. You must verify your email before continuing the process. Once you verify your email, you’ll receive a licensing agreement from Apple. After signing the agreement, you’ll receive an activation code link, which is the final step in the enrollment process. Once the enrollment is complete you can access the Member Center, the online portal for your app’s account management. You can also access iTunes Connect to set up your app on the App Store.
Create an Xcode project
As you may have learned while working with the developer, Xcode is Apple’s suite of development tools for iOS software. If you didn’t coordinate with the developer in creating an Xcode project, then you will need to create a new Xcode project for your app. When you create the project in your Xcode software, you’ll be asked to create a product name and a company identifier. A bundle ID is then generated. The product name, company identifier, and bundle ID all need to match the name, identifier, and bundle ID you use for the app in iTunes Connect.
In development, the app was tested by the developer on simulators, and you and your test group tested using mobile provisioning versions pulled into iTunes. Apple gives you an opportunity to test your app live on your iPhone or iPad by registering your Apple device in Xcode.
The first step is to request a development certificate. In the Organizer, click on Devices. Then, click on Provisioning Profiles in the Library section. Log in with your username and password. A pop-up will ask you if Xcode should request a development certificate. Click on “Submit Request.”
Next, connect your iPhone to your Mac. In Xcode, go to the Organizer, then to Devices. Your iPhone should be there. Select your device and then click the “Use For Development” button.
Request a development certificate from the App Store
Finally, it’s time to launch your app downloaded from the App Store on your device. In Xcode, go to File and then “Edit Scheme.” Select your device from the Scheme Editor menu that pops up. Click OK to close the Scheme Editor and then click Run. Your app will launch on your particular device.
As you did in the test phase, Apple suggests that you test your app on as many different devices and different generations of devices as possible. For example, if your app is going to be available for all Apple devices, you should try to test it on all iPads, all iPods, and all iPhones. If your app is only going to be available for specific devices, only test on those devices. According to Apple, testing on the real devices can reveal flaws and glitches that don’t show up on app testing simulators.
You’ll use iTunes Connect to update all of your app’s marketing and branding collateral, such as name, keywords, description, screenshots, and icon. We’ve already discussed the importance of all of these, and we will cover the importance of keywords and an effective description in the next section. For now, we’ll focus on the technical aspect of creating your app record in iTunes Connect.
Before you can begin, you need to have your screenshots captured in Xcode. Connect your device to your Mac and launch your app on your device via the method we described above. Navigate your app to find the specific screen you want to use for the screenshot. Go to Xcode and use the triangle to open the dropdown menu under your device in the Devices Organizer. Select Screenshots and then click on New Screenshot in the lower-right corner. The new screenshot will appear in your Xcode software. You can save it as a PNG by dragging it to your desktop.
Once you have your screenshots, you’re ready to create your record. You’ll need your Bundle ID from Xcodesince it needs to be the same in iTunes Connect. Log in to iTunes Connect, select Manage Your Applications, and then click on Add New Application. A guide will walk you through the setup process. It is very easy to follow. When you’re finished with the questions, click Done!
One thing to be aware of in this process is the App Ship Date. You can set the app to ship (or launch) the day it’s approved by Apple. However, Apple’s approval process is notoriously unpredictable. Your app could get launched earlier than expected – before you’ve completed your marketing process. A better practice is to set the date to the latest date allowable. You can always change the date once the app is approved, but you won’t have to worry about the app launching before you’re ready.
The submission process starts with downloading a distribution provisioning profile from the Member Center. Go to the Member Center and log in to the iOS Provisioning Portal. Go to “Provisioning” and then the “Distributions” tab. Find the provisioning file you want and then click on “Download.” A profile with a “.mobileprovision” extension appears in your Downloads file. Next, open Xcode and go to the Devices Organizer. Select “Provisioning Profiles.” Drag the new “.mobileprovision” download into the Devices Organizer.
You also need to sign the distribution certificate. In Xcode, select your project, click “Build Settings,” and then click “All.” Type “Code Signing” into the search field of the Build Settings pane. From the pop-up menu, choose the certificate that begins with “iPhone Distribution” followed by your name.
Finally, you need to create and validate an archived copy of your app for submission. In Xcode, choose “iOS Device” from the Scheme toolbar menu. Then choose “Product” and then “Archive.” Next, go to the Archives Organizer, select the archive, and click “Validate.” You’ll then be asked for your iTunes credentials. Enter your credentials, select the app you want to share, and your signing identity and then click “Next.” Review and correct any validation issues. XCode won’t allow you to move forward if there are validation issues. If there are no issues, click “Next.”
Signing the Apple distribution certificate is required
Now you’re ready to submit the app for approval. Go to the Archives organizer and select the archive. Click “Distribute,” then click “Submit to the iOS App Store” and click next. Again, enter your iTunes Connect credentials, choose your signing identity, and click “Next.” Enter a filename and location for the App Store package and click “Save.” Xcode then transmits your app to Apple for approval. The amount of time needed for approval is a bit unpredictable. Some approvals move quickly; others can take as much as three weeks. If your app is rejected, correct the offending issues and resubmit. If your app is accepted, you are ready to start selling.
Unless you direct Apple otherwise, your app will be available as soon as it is approved. You may want to launch on an exact date to sync up with your marketing efforts. To specify your launch date, go to iTunes Connect and select “Manage Your Applications.” Find your app in “iOS Recent Activity.” Under “Rights & Pricing,” select your target launch date from the “Availability Date” pop-up menu. Now, even if your app is approved, it will not be available in the App Store until your specified date.
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