Nobody is denying that Apple has given us app makers the opportunity to flex our creative muscles and bring home the bacon while doing so. However, at the risk of sounding like an ungrateful oaf, and many of you will agree, with Apple it is the classic case of the hand that feeds slapping you 10 times before offering the next morsel.

Stories of Steve Jobs’ bad temper and attitude abound on the internet. Well, it would be safe to say that at least many of these Apple’s app reviewers think they need to carry forward Job’s legacy of being eccentric and just overall mean. Where does that leave us app makers? In a lot of trouble!

And, that has been the impetus for penning this piece on sneaky techniques that can be used to work around the insanity of Apple. Let me say this upfront, a lot of these methods on how to avoid app rejections are black hat through and through, so use them at your own risk.

The tale of hapless app makers!

To call the app review process followed by Apple inconsistent would be the understatement of the millennium. Don’t let all those lists of app rejection causes they are releasing, fool you. The fact is that there is absolutely no method to this madness. The process is highly subjective and ends up leaving app makers in an utter state of anxiety for days.

If you are reading this, chances are that you have already been hit where it hurts by the Apple review process. This is how the cookie typically crumbles for app makers- after spending weeks and months getting the perfect app ready, you finally have a noteworthy product in your hands, which you believe will make a difference.

Not only have you invested your time and hopes into the program but also a lot of money. This means that failure to launch would create serious cash flow issues. But, because you have an honest to goodness product, you should not have much to worry, right?

Wrong! Actually, the true mayhem starts after you submit your app for review.

Apple reviewers on PMS?

Let us put it this way, if the reviewer has had a bad day, his foul mood can significantly mar the chances of app being approved. Clearly put, these boys have been given a lot of liberty when it comes to the definition of what is acceptable and what is not.

This is one of the main reasons why an app that gets rejected one week, gets through the review process the very next week, without any tweaks made to its code or interface. After all, what one guy finds utterly annoying another may let pass.

App makers what you gonna do, what you gonna do when Apple comes for you?

This is how the review process typically plays out. Once you upload the app to Apple, you should rightfully be able to breathe a sigh of relief. But, most app makers have their derrieres on fire while they get through the dreaded wait.

Depending on when you submit the app, it can take anywhere between 1 day to 2 weeks to get a response from Apple. Now, for anybody who is desperate to ride a current trend, this could amount to significant losses. But, it’s a case of c’est la vie and there is nothing you can do about it.

Finally, you see a ray of hope when you receive the message with the subject line which confirms that your app is now in review. But, this does not mean that your app will be approved shortly. They are merely being courteous and telling you what they are doing.

All hopes dashed by the Apple feedback!

After a few hours or days, you receive feedback. Hey, but that is not an approval! Damn, right, it isn’t. The feedback means come back another day Jose. You are disappointed, defeated even panicking as you turn to the Resolution Center to find out what went wrong. And, as you read the first line, you feel the punch in your gut because often these rejections are sheer nonsense. Here are a few classic examples:

• Too many ads
• Not too may ads
• App advertises other apps in list form
• You dared to use the Apple GameCenter logo
• App is too simple
• App is too complicated
• I have seen another app that looks a lot like this
• You have a giveaway but you have not clarified that Apple is not involved and where are the terms and conditions?

And, it gets worse!

Of course, you can resubmit the app, but this would mean another few weeks of hair pulling anxiety. And, even if you do subject yourself to it, there is no guarantee that your app will get through the second round of review. Now, imagine if you are trying to get the app published before the holiday season, you will have missed it by a month or more as you wait to get the app approved.

So, you will have lost the capital invested in making the app, the time, effort and the chance to make any money from the program.

The nightmare does not end here. Even if your app does get through, the reviewer may randomly delete some of your keywords just because he does not deem them appropriate. In fact, this is the normal process. So, if you were to compare the keywords on your released app with those that were originally submitted, you are bound to a find a few gaps.

Wait, these guys are out for blood! They may even blacklist your app for certain keywords. This means that despite the keyword being there in your list, your users will not be able to find your app if they search for it by using that specific keyword.

Is Apple hitting you under the belt, just cuz they can? You bet!

How to avoid App Rejections and save my hide?

This brings us to the juicy part of this article. Now, that you are more willing to listen, here is the all encompassing mantra for getting your app approved, for your ears only:

Apple’s Ignorance is your Bliss!

You heard that right; the trick lies in only showing them the good stuff while withholding features and factors that would get the app rejected. Can this be done? Yes; check out a few common issues that have been sorted with this rule.

Don’t you dare compete with Apple, you little guy!

Problem no 1: App rejected because you advertised multiple apps (not your own) in a list form. For some strange reason that raises quite a few hackles down at Apple. Although they do let you advertise both your own apps and those of others, they do seem to have a grouse with the list form. The logic behind this, it looks too much like the Apple app store and they cannot have the small guys remotely competing with them.

Solution: There is a very way out of this quandary; only include your own apps in the “More apps” or “More games” section. This can easily be accomplished by making a few changes to the ad network you are using. For instance, in Upsight, go to the “More Apps” widget. In the “apps to promote” section, you must have enabled, “advertiser apps only” or “advertiser and internal apps” change these to “internal apps”.

If you have several dozen apps, go for a few that have earned rave reviews on the Apple store. If you are new to the world of app making, don’t advertise any apps. Simply make a note to the reviewer telling him/ her that you are a newbie and have nothing to advertise as yet. We know this works because several people have confirmed it.

But, what about the revenues from advertising, you ask? Whoever said anything about not advertising at all? Just leave third party apps out till your app gets approved; then, simply undo the changes made to your ad network and you will be back in business.

We are not going to let you make that much money?

Problem no 2: This is another classic- “too many ads” and like other rejection factors, it is highly subjective. While one reviewer may shoot down your app for a single popup ad, the other will not be annoyed by it. This gives us a chance to put our App approval mantra to use again.

Solution: Ads are creating a problem, so turn them off for the time being. It is really as simple as that. You ad network will allow you to pause your campaign. In Upsight, look out for the Interstilial Pop-Up ad. Right next to it, you will find the option for “pause” use it and you will be in the green. Once again, when your app gets through the review process, you can just go ahead and unpause it.

Important hack: Don’t go for a completely ad free look because then you will be flagged down for too few ads or worse yet they may see through your ploy. So, show ads but not very often.

We are not allowing this feature for no apparent reason at all!

Problem no 3: This is one of the most commonly used reasons for rejections; Apple does not like something about the app. And, this something can be absolutely anything; from features to graphics. To sort through this issue, we are really going to put on our black hats.

Solution: This one employs blatant trickery but WTH, it is worth the risk under the circumstances. Remember, our App approval mantra? Hide and ye shall get through! So, what and who is stopping you from hiding features and graphics that you know will create trouble?

Like with the other two problems; this is just a temporary fix but it does stop the leak. In very simple words, what you are trying to do here is this:

• Write a code which will let you specify a date in the future
• Check the date today
• Till this future date is passed, certain features and graphics will remain hidden from Apple
• They will come back on once you get to the specified date

This is a relatively simple code that can be written in Objective C by anybody who knows a thing or two about programming. While this works most of the time, you should note that you will need to correctly anticipate the future date. If Apple is tardy in reviewing your app, you may bust through the deadline and the reviewers will see the things that are not meant for their eyes. Usually, going for a two week period works just fine.

A more technologically advanced strategy

With this trick, you are still trying to accomplish our principle goal; just that it involves a certain degree of innovation. Note that your users will need to be using internet for this to work. The strategy is beautifully simple, you create a connection in the program that links the code to a file placed online, which can be changed as and when needed.

Moral of the story is that you will be able to add or remove features at will. This is a very cool trick that works even when you are not trying to beat Apple at their game. In fact, it also works astonishingly well for app upgrades and feature changes. However, once again, remember that your users will need to be connected to the internet or they will be left languishing with whatever little functionality the original code offers.

Hey, I feel so horrible duping Apple like that!

Really? You won’t after they have kicked you all over the place a few times. It is a fact that apps get rejected for no logical reason at all and another bit of truth for you is that you cannot do a damn thing about it. Wake up and smell the coffee bubba. Once that app gets rejected, you will have lost more than just money. Simply put, they are screwing you in more ways than one.

Where begging does not work, brute force does! Besides, what you are NOT doing is duping your end users and your clients are really the only people you should be caring about. So, go ahead with a clear conscience and the belief that us little guys also need to make money when using these tips on how to avoid app rejections.

Raj Arora
Author : Raj Arora

Founder and CEO Of Reskingames and GameGorillaz.com. Love to write about my experiences in the app industry, and have fun working!