We’ve been working hard on getting Swapit on iOS launched as soon as possible. Over the many years in the app business, we have some experience in launching apps into app stores — this includes the App Store, of course.
Our initial plan was to bring the Swapit iOS app up to a point where buyers and sellers can trade and then publish the app on the App Store. So we looked at the app’s features, tried to break it down into as many small pieces as possible so we could define a MVP that we can hand out to our beta testers. In fact, we managed to launch that only 1 month after hiring our iOS developer.
We are running our beta test on Apple’s TestFlight for quite a while now. It’s not possible to buy or sell anything, but it is already possible to list items, view details, do spacial queries and interact with items – to some extend at least.
About a month ago we looked at our state of the iOS app and we realized that it’ll take at least another 1-2 months before we could launch a somewhat fully functional iOS app. Now, we’ve got the RISE conference coming up (more news on that here) and we are also constantly talking to investors and users alike, many of which have an iPhone. So we needed to be present on the App Store ASAP.
Landing App – A Crashlanding
Remember the landing app we built for Android? We figured, why not doing the same on iOS? We knew it would literally take us a day to build that; and so we went ahead and created it quickly. We uploaded the app to the App Store and submitted it for review.
Over a week later, we got a reply from the App Store review folks that they denied our app release for the following reason:
Apps that are “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected. Beta Apps may only be submitted through TestFlight and must follow the TestFlight guidelines.
Granted, our landing app was what it was: An app to leave your contact details, so we can reach out to you once the actual app is available. Hence, there was no “real” functionality provided in the app. I’ve argued our case and explained why we did what we did and that our only motivation was to make our (potential) users happy by allowing them to find us on the App Store. Many people I talk to, just go directly to the App Store, search for “Swapit” and want to download the app. At this moment, they can’t find it and that’s a bad experience for them. We merely tried to remedy that situation and make users happy.
That wasn’t enough for the App Store review team. But they did actually ask us to provide a contact number and they would call back. I was surprised. Thinking about the sheer amount of apps that are available on the App Store and all of those require reviewing, I am wondering how many people Apple employs for that — given that they also make phone calls in some cases.
So another 1-2 weeks later, I receive a phone call from the App Store Review Team. I explained everything again, in more detail now, more about our motivation, our background, our traction, and so on. It all didn’t help. The binary we submitted would just not be approved. Period.
Sometimes you just got to suck it up and get back to work. It sucks, but it’s the only way.
Landing App + Browsing Experience
Yet, I got some fruitful information out of the phone call. It would apparently be acceptable to submit an app that is like our landing app (i.e. it asks for the user’s contact information), but there has to be some kind of added value after that. In a very simple case, once it’s possible to actually browse content after leaving your contact details, we should be passing that single requirement, which the Swapit landing app failed during review. However, such a “forced-signup” process during the app start, does in our case create another hurdle. While there might be some apps that really have to require a log in before allowing the user to access any data, Swapit does also contain data, which should be accessible by anyone – no matter if he or she has left any contact information. So in short: It must be possible to skip the sign up process. We’ll make that possible.
Furthermore, we are not allowed to mention anything about beta, pre-release, etc. anywhere in the app or the app’s description on the App Store. Well, fine. We can skip that, but yet it won’t present Swapit to potential users in the most transparent way. While we constantly do our best to make sure we don’t have any bugs in Swapit, we still wear the “beta” label. That’s important for us, because we know we are not perfect. Swapit is a work-in-progress app and platform, and we know we will have bugs from time to time. So well, now we just need to skip any notice about this in our iOS app. At the same time, we are working harder to make sure we deliver the best-in-class marketplace on your mobile.
Stay tuned. Keep your iPhones charged! We’ll soon be ready to announce the availability of Swapit on the App Store.
If you have an Android device too, go to http://get.swapit.la and download Swapit today.