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Apple App Store Guidelines

Before the app finds itself on the App Store, it has to get through a review. For the process to be completed quickly and successfully, Apple provides requirements for each product page element. In this guideline, we’ve gathered all the information you need to consider before submitting your app to the App Store.




App Store guideline: App Name

The App Store is an overcrowded place. As of 2021, there are over 5 million apps out there, which makes it quite hard to be discovered, let alone downloaded. True, it can be challenging. But not impossible! Your discoverability chances grow once you give your app a good (from the App Store perspective) name. The title with the most relevant keywords has the biggest impact on the App Store’s algorithm. Moreover, along with the icon and the first two screenshots, the name contributes generously to the first impression as this is one of the first things your potential user learns about your app.


According to Apple’s recommendations, the app name should:

  • Be simple, catchy, compelling and easy-to-understand;

  • Communicate the key purpose of your app;

  • No more than 30 characters long;

  • Differ from competitors’ app names;

  • Exclude generic terms, popular app titles, special characters (e.g. #, @), prices, as well as celebrity names, trademarked terms and other protected words.



App Store guideline: Subtitle

Placed right below the title, a subtitle is a short phrase which brings additional information to your app. It complements the app name by communicating the purpose and value of your product in detail. Here are the App Store requirements for the subtitle: It should be compelling to encourage users to explore your product page and download your app; It should be limited to 30 characters; It shouldn’t include generic descriptions, for example, “world’s best app.” Title and subtitle together provide 60 characters for you to get through to your users. Focus on your distinctive features or typical uses; Subtitles have to comply with App Store’s standard metadata rules. Avoid misleading or false product claims or inappropriate content, and never exploit competitor’s apps by any means.


To leverage your app name and subtitle in the best possible way to communicate to your potential users. Use relevant and descriptive keywords, and don’t include those already used in your title into the subtitle. The Apple App Store algorithm will only count them once.



App Store guideline: Icon

Users see this element in App Store search results, even before they find themselves on the app. The visibility of an icon places extra importance on how it should look.


Icon sizes

The App Store requires that app publishers provide icons of different sizes for every device they support. A large icon is meant to be used on the App Store, while small icons are designed to be displayed on the Home screen and throughout the user device after the app is downloaded and installed. Below you can find size requirements for icons on the App Store:





Icon attributes

To be eligible for the App Store, icons have to meet the following specifications:

  • Format: PNG;

  • Layers: flattened with no transparency;

  • Resolution: varies. See Image Size and Resolution;

  • Shape: square with no rounded corners.


App Store guideline: Screenshots

It goes without saying, images win the struggle with text for user attention. Screenshots are another visible product page element which contributes to your app’s impressions, as they may appear in App Store search results.


App Store Connect requires to upload at least one app screenshot, while the upper limit is 10.


Depending on the image orientation – portrait or landscape – the first 1-3 screenshots will be seen in search results, provided there’s no app preview added. Thus, Apple recommends using the first three image gallery visuals to convey the app’s purpose and value, while the rest of them may point out your distinctive features and complement the message.


The family of Apple devices is big, and App Store creative assets should fit every size.


If your app looks different on various devices, submit an individual set of screenshots for every size. Alternatively, for apps which are identical across multiple devices and localizations, you just have to provide screenshots of the higher resolution required for iPhone and iPad. The platform will automatically resize the images so that they fit the entire Apple family.



App Store guideline: App Previews

Users want to see what they would get with an app. Consequently, it’s vital that the publisher use app previews to demonstrate the functionality, outstanding features and interface of the app. The visual demonstration can be reinforced by the sound effects of your UI.



Here’re some recommendations by Apple to create effective app previews:

  • Use the footage of the app in use, enhanced by graphic elements, textual or video overlays and narration, if the video requires additional explanation. Avoid using animated hands gesturing or real people navigating the device, as well as the caption of your app’s development;

  • Since previews autoplay, it’s recommendable to make the first few seconds visually engaging. When the videos don’t autoplay, users see poster frames, which should also communicate the essence of the app;

  • The preview should be 15-30 seconds long;

  • The maximum file size is 500MB;

  • Upload 1-3 previews for each supported localization;

  • Don’t rely on specific seasons or events, keep the videos general;

  • Use a disclaimer at the end of a preview if your app requires to log in or subscribe, or if you demonstrate features which are only available on an in-app purchase basis;

  • Avoid adult themes, objectionable content, profanity and violence, so that your previews comply with age restrictions – aged 4 and older;

  • Never demonstrate protected content without licensing rights.



App Store guideline: Description

The first sentence (about 3 lines) of the description counts the most. It’s proven that less than 2% read the extended description which goes after tapping the “read more” button. So start with an attention-grabbing sentence that pitches users and clearly sets out what the app is intended for.


A short paragraph at the beginning should be followed by an informative, comprehensive yet engaging summary of your app’s functionality and main features. Use the allowed space – up to 4,000 characters – to explain how your app differs from competitors and why users should tap “Get”.



Take into account the following Apple’s recommendations regarding the product page description:

  • Keep it concise, informative and easy-to-understand;

  • Stick to the tone of your brand; Avoid specific terms, keep it simple;

  • Avoid keyword stuffing, otherwise, your app won’t pass the review;

  • Don’t mention prices: pricing is already disclosed on your product page and may also differ across the supported localizations;

  • Let users know about your awards, if any, but better do it at the end of the description.



App Store guideline: Promotional Text

The promotional text goes before the app description and is limited to 170 characters. A huge advantage of this product page element is that it can be changed without having to upload an updated app version. Consequently, it’s a good place to share messages that are limited in time, such as sales, announcements of new features, events or content and more.




App Store guideline: What's New

This section is intended to describe the updates introduced into the app. Since April 2018, the text in “What’s new” is subject to the App Review process by Apple, just as other product page elements. Thus, developers can change the contents of the section only after the new app version is submitted to the store.


App Store guideline: In-app Purchases

Apple requires that subscriptions or additional purchases be clearly indicated in the app’s metadata – screenshots, app previews or description. If you do provide paid offerings, you can choose to promote them, which can drive downloads of your app.


The thing is that if the user comes across a promoted in-app purchase and decides to buy it, they will be suggested to download and install the app first (if it hasn’t been done before). Only after the user finds themselves in the app can they proceed to make a transaction.


Overall, the in-app purchase is a good channel to promote content which falls into one of the four types – Consumable, Non-Consumable, Auto-Renewable Subscription and Non-Renewing Subscription. On iOS 11 and later, in-app purchases are visible to users in search results, in a separate section on a product page, and can be featured on the Today, Games, and Apps tabs.



On a product page, the App Store enables to promote up to 20 in-app purchases at a time and present them in any order. The store also allows to change in-app purchases any time, thus, you can showcase the features and services which are likely to convert and bring more value to your business at this particular moment.


Each in-app purchase should come with a promotional image, a display name, and a description. Below you can find Apple’s requirements for the 3 metadata elements.


Promotional image:

  • Format: PNG or high-quality JPEG;

  • Dimensions: 1024 x 1024 pixels. Make sure that the image cascades down to smaller sizes flawlessly;

  • 72 dpi, RGB, flattened and no rounded corners;

  • It should not resemble the icon and should not be a screenshot;

  • Avoid using text in the image;

  • Don’t place important details in the lower left corner: this is where your app’s icon is added to the promotional image when the in-app purchase is displayed in search results.


Display name:

  • Try not to be generic. Lint the display name to your app, but keep it easy-to-understand; Character limit: 2-30;

  • Auto-renewable subscriptions should have the duration specified.


Description:

  • Character limit: up to 45;

  • Outline the benefits of the offering, be concise and descriptive.


Hope you enjoyed this resourceful article on the app store guidelines. Feel free to comment below should you have any questions.







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