The art of publishing an iOS app
It can almost be called art to publish an iOS app. Ok, it’s no magic trick now, but compared to publishing an Android app, there are always magic moments in the process that will amaze the willing publisher. Not only astonishment, sometimes even despair. But when it is done, it is like a small birth. You give birth to an iOS app and then hold it in your hands like an infant.
Then you quickly forget how tedious and lengthy the process was before. The negative disappears in your memory, the feelings of happiness remain.
The first obstacles
To release and build an iOS app, Apple hardware is required. You can develop hybrid apps with Ionic or Flutter or React Native and of course, use a building service (if you find a reliable one) to create the IPA file (the actual iOS build).
But uploading (distribution) and adding the provisioning profile (ok, some build services can still do that) requires real Apple hardware. No, there is no way around this. Yes, ok, there are virtualized MacOS environments. But is this a real alternative? Creating signatures on a virtual machine, not knowing who else has access to them?
For us it was always a good solution to buy a used MacBook, or if the budget is enough to buy a new one. And if you have the website with the MacBook Shortcuts for special characters bookmarklet, you can also work with it. Our tip: not too old, SSD as big as possible and then this is a good tool. The new operating system, Android Studio, XCode on it, and then you can start. By the way, such a MacBook looks very good on the desk.
Signing and creating provisioning profiles is a science in itself. I have seen several developers go through the process and then get close to tears looking for help. The profiles didn’t fit, were copied around, the hardware changed, and so on. Here you need practice, patience, and best of all someone to guide you. Once you have done it, be careful. if too much time passes until the next time, everything is quickly forgotten.
The nice thing about Apple is that there is a manageable number of devices. With Android, there are countless. Here, you have to be flexible as a developer. The apps have to scale dynamically. Text sizes etc. have to adapt. With apple, you have the luxury of not having all the devices on hand, no – to test all the devices in the simulator. That’s only a handful of iPhones and iPads in question. That’s nice.
XCode you mystic creature. Kudos to anyone who can implement a completely native app with it. I’m constantly trying to just adjust the build level or set the right provisioning profile. Even that is an undertaking not to be underestimated. After each import, I have to do it again. Always in a different place. Why do you have to archive to upload the build? Apple per se is already a mystery for the Windows user. But XCode increases the whole thing even more. Is there actually XCode for dummies? Or a Nobel Prize for the most experienced XCode users?
Okay, that’s tough. The guidelines for the App Store (Connect). You have to be aware of this, otherwise, it can go wrong. If an app was once approved, contentwise after an update nothing substantial has changed, no guarantee for approval the next time. Something new may have been noticed. These are partly things like, not enough of the app to see on the screenshot or the coloring of a button is different than shown on a picture, or the element is now on the left and no longer on the right. A small masterpiece? My little masterpiece – publishing an app with a little raffle at the end. Approval received. Easy. Update made. Release denied. And that with a productive app and users waiting for the update. It can get exhausting sometimes. Therefore, read the Store Policies! Otherwise, this will take its revenge!
And another challenge has been added. Of course, data protection is an important issue. And the more transparency the better. With this in mind, Apple is breaking new ground. Users can now refuse their consent for tracking. Tracking was mainly used by advertisers. Or by providers of the actual app for monetization or other reasons. All app publishers must provide in App Store Connect detailed data policy information. I.e. if you use a provider of advertising banners, you must first deal intensively with its provisions and then enter this accordingly at Apple. Certainly, it is not right to simply “carelessly” collect and pass on user data as before. But – you have to understand that first. From app provider to data protection expert. It is challenging.
Conclusion or disillusion
The art of publishing an iOS app – is this a little exaggerated?
App development is fun. But don’t be too naive or too ambitious. There are so many things to consider. If you don’t know an ecosystem, you’re in for sleepless nights. Or at least some headaches. And if you think you have everything under control, never let up, keep going. The rules, laws, regulations, and processes are constantly changing. The whole thing is like a living organism on a tandem. If you don’t keep the whole thing inside your vision, getting back on will be painful again. Bottom line, call me a masochist, I like it. And it is always a great satisfaction when you can present your iOS baby to the world.