In software development, there are many considerations made when preparing for a release. Are the servers in place? Did we migrate those tables to production? Are we happy with our stage testing and ready to pull the trigger? Do we have support on hand for a potential rollback?
In mobile development, many (if not all) of those concerns are replaced with one big, new concern: Will Apple reject my application?
Unlike enterprise software development, iOS applications made for public consumption need to be approved by Apple. Apple’s release process is fairly straightforward; after all, it’s just a form to fill out. However, planning around a launch date adds additional challenges when you don’t know how long it will take for Apple to give the OK.
As a project manager, there are three things you should definitely know: the guidelines, available resources, and your options.
Understanding the application guidelines for the App Store is critical. Reviewing them ahead of time can save you major headaches if your app is rejected due to unnecessary code, or incorrectly using the ad framework. Adhering to the guidelines doesn’t always guarantee acceptance, so be ready to respond quickly to any issues that might arise from the start of the submission process.
Also, be sure to pay attention to the unofficial app review time. Generally, it’s best to give about two weeks leeway. Our apps take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for approval. Additionally, new apps tend to take longer than updates to existing applications.
Expediting the process is an option, under certain conditions. Use this infrequently and only when absolutely necessary. A justifiable expedition request falls into one of two categories: an urgent bug fix (think when a third-party API changes and causes your app to crash on launch) or a time-sensitive event (for when your app is tied to an important event like the Grammy Awards). Remember, these requests are taken at Apple’s discretion. There’s no guarantee they’ll review your app quickly (although, they usually do). Also, you should never assume that Apple will approve your request; make sure you’re in great shape from the start to avoid making an expedition request altogether if possible.
Finally, keep in mind that when your app is approved, it won’t automatically appear in the App Store (unless you select that option). The majority of the time, we manually release apps (post-approval) so both the Android and iOS versions are available in stores on the same day.