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To publish an app to the App Store,an app developer must first submit it – along with screenshots, adescription, icons, and other information – to Apple for review. Afterapproving the app, Apple places it on the App Store, where users canpurchase it and install it directly from their iOS devices.

Apr 06, 2020.

This guide describes the steps to follow to prepare an app for the AppStore and send it to Apple for review. In particular, it describes:

  • Following the App Store Review Guidelines
  • Setting up an App ID and entitlements
  • Providing an App Store icon and app icons
  • Setting up an App Store provisioning profile
  • Updating the Release build configuration
  • Configuring your app in iTunes Connect
  • Building your app and submitting it to Apple

Important

Apple has indicated thatstarting in March 2019, all apps and updates submitted to the App Storemust have been built with the iOS 12.1 SDK or later, included in Xcode 10.1 or later.Apps should also support the iPhone XS and 12.9' iPad Pro screen sizes.

App Store guidelines

Before submitting an app for publication in the App Store, make sure thatit meets the standards defined by Apple's App Store ReviewGuidelines.When you submit an app to the App Store, Apple reviews it to make surethat it meets these requirements. If it does not, Apple will reject it –and you will need to address the cited problems and resubmit.Therefore, it is a good idea to become familiar the guidelines as earlyas possible in the development process.

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A couple of things to watch out for when submitting an app:

  1. Make sure the app’s description matches its functionality.
  2. Test that the app doesn’t crash under normal usage. This includes usage on every iOS device it supports.

Also take a look at App Store-related resourcesthat Apple provides.

Set up an App ID and entitlements

Every iOS app has a unique App ID, which has an associated set ofapplication services called entitlements. Entitlements allow apps to dovarious things such as receive push notification, access iOS featuressuch as HealthKit, and more.

To create an App ID and select any needed entitlements, visit theApple Developer Portal and followthese steps:

  1. Login to the Apple Developer Portal. If you don't already have an Apple ID, create an Apple ID first.
  2. Go to the Certificates, IDs & Profiles section, and then to the Identifiers section.
  3. Click the + button next to the Identifiers heading at the top of the page.
  4. Select App IDs and click Continue.
  5. Select App and then click Continue.
  6. Enter a Description and Bundle ID for the new application, and select any Capabilities that will be required by your Xamarin.iOS application. App Services are further described in the Working with capabilities in Xamarin.iOS guide. When you finish making your selections, click Continue.
  7. Click the Register button to complete the process for creating the new App ID.

In addition to selecting and configuring the required applicationservices when defining your App ID, you must configure the App ID andentitlements in your Xamarin.iOS project by editing the Info.plistand Entitlements.plist files. For more information, take a look atthe Working with Entitlements inXamarin.iOS guide, whichdescribes how to create an Entitlements.plist file and the meaning ofthe various entitlement settings it contains.

Include an App Store icon

When you submit an app to Apple, be sure that it includes an assetcatalog that contains an App Store icon. To learn how to do this, take alook at the App Store icons inXamarin.iOS guide.

Set the apps icons and launch screens

For Apple to make an iOS app available on the App Store, it must have proper icons and launch screens for all of the iOS devices on which it can run. For more information about setting up app icons and launch screens, read the following guides:

Create and install an App Store provisioning profile

iOS uses provisioning profiles to control how a particular application build can be deployed. These are files that contain information about the certificate used to sign an app, the App ID, and where the app can be installed. For development and ad hoc distribution, the provisioning profile also includes the list of allowed devices to which you can deploy the app. However, for App Store distribution, only certificate and App ID information are included since the only mechanism for public distribution is the App Store.

To create and install an App Store provisioning profile, follow these steps:

  1. Login to the Apple Developer Portal.
  2. Go to the Certificates, IDs & Profiles section, and then to the Profiles section.
  3. Click the + button, select iOS App Development and App Store, and click Continue.
  4. Select your app's App ID from the list and click Continue.
  5. Select a signing certificate and click Continue.
  6. Select devices to include in this profile and click Continue.
  7. Enter a Provisioning Profile Name and click Generate to generate the profile.
  8. Use Xamarin's Apple Account Management tools to download the newly-created provisioning profile to your Mac. If you're on a Mac, you can also download the provisioning profile directly from the Apple Developer Portal and double-click on it to install.

For detailed instructions, see the Creating a distribution profile and Selecting a distribution profile in a Xamarin.iOS project.

Update the Release build configuration

New Xamarin.iOS projects automatically set up Debug and Releasebuild configurations. To properly configure the Release build, follow these steps:

  1. From the Solution Pad, open Info.plist file located inside the iOS project.

  2. Make sure you're in Application view. This can be set by clicking on the option in the bottom navigation bar.

  3. Select Manual Provisioning as the Signing option. Save and close the file.

  4. Right-click on the Project Name in the Solution Pad, select Options, and navigate to the iOS Build tab.

  5. Set Configuration to Release and Platform to iPhone.

  6. To build with a specific iOS SDK, select it from the SDK version list. Otherwise, leave this value at Default.

  7. Linking reduces the overall size of your application by stripping out unused code.

    • In most cases, Linker Behavior should be set to the default value of Link Framework SDKs only.
    • Using the Don't Link option can cause Apple to reject the app due to the presence of non-public iOS APIs in Xamarin.iOS that would be linked out with the Link Framework SDKs only option
    • Link All should be used with care as it will strip code from all assemblies in the project, including 3rd party libraries. It can strip out code that the 3rd party library may only use via reflection that the linker cannot detect, as it does static code analysis to determine what library code is being used. Use Link All with care as you may have to manually preserve some classes and/or methods to avoid runtime failures due to missing code.
    • For more information, refer to the Linking Xamarin.iOS apps guide.
  8. For iOS 11, select one of the device architectures that supports ARM64. For more information on building for 64-bit iOS devices, please see the Enabling 64-Bit Builds of Xamarin.iOS Apps section of the 32/64-bit platform considerations documentation.

  9. You may wish to use the LLVM compiler to build smaller and faster code. However, this option increases compile times.

  10. Check Optimize PNG images to further decrease your application's size.

  11. Debugging should not be enabled, as it will make the build unnecessarily large.

  12. Based on your application's needs, you may also wish to adjust the type of Garbage Collection being used and setup for Internationalization.

    After setting the options as described above, your build settings shouldlook similar to this:

    Also take a look at the iOS build mechanics guide, which further describes build settings.

  13. Navigate to the iOS Bundle Signing tab. If the options here are not editable, ensure that Manual Provisioning is selected in the Info.plist file.

  14. Make sure that Configuration is set to Release and Platform is set to iPhone.

  15. Set Signing Identity to Distribution (Automatic).

  16. For Provisioning Profile, select the App Store provisioning profile created above.

    Your project's bundle signing options should now look similar to this:

  17. Click OK to save changes to the project properties.

  1. Make sure that Visual Studio 2019 has been paired to a Mac build host.

  2. Right-click on the Project Name in the Solution Explorer, select Properties.

  3. Navigate to the iOS Build tab and set Configuration to Release and Platform to iPhone.

  4. To build with a specific iOS SDK, select it from the SDK Version list. Otherwise, leave this value at Default.

  5. Linking reduces the overall size of your application by stripping out unused code.

    • In most cases, Linker Behavior should be set to the default value of Link Framework SDKs only.
    • Using the Don't Link option can cause Apple to reject the app due to the presence of non-public iOS APIs in Xamarin.iOS that would be linked out with the Link Framework SDKs only option
    • Link All should be used with care as it will strip code from all assemblies in the project, including 3rd party libraries. It can strip out code that the 3rd party library may only use via reflection that the linker cannot detect, as it does static code analysis to determine what library code is being used. Use Link All with care as you may have to manually preserve some classes and/or methods to avoid runtime failures due to missing code.
    • For more information, refer to the Linking Xamarin.iOS apps guide.
  6. For iOS 11, select one of the device architectures that supports ARM64. For more information on building for 64-bit iOS devices, please see the Enabling 64-Bit Builds of Xamarin.iOS Apps section of the 32/64-bit platform considerations documentation.

  7. You may wish to use the LLVM compiler to build smaller and faster code. However, this option increases compile times.

  8. Check Optimize PNG images to further decrease your application's size.

  9. Debugging should not be enabled, as it will make the build unnecessarily large.

  10. Based on your application's needs, you may also wish to adjust the type of Garbage Collection being used and setup for Internationalization.

    After setting the options described above, your build settings shouldlook similar to this:

    Also take a look at the iOS build mechanics guide, which further describes build settings.

  11. Navigate to the iOS Bundle Signing tab. Make sure that Configuration is set to Release, Platform is set to iPhone, and that Manual Provisioning is selected.

  12. Set Signing Identity to Distribution (Automatic).

  13. For Provisioning Profile, select the App Store provisioning profile created above.

    Your project's bundle signing options should now look similar to this:

  14. Save the build configuration and close it.

  1. Make sure that Visual Studio 2017 has been paired to a Mac build host.

  2. Right-click on the Project Name in the Solution Explorer, select Properties.

  3. Navigate to the iOS Build tab and set Configuration to Release and Platform to iPhone.

  4. To build with a specific iOS SDK, select it from the SDK Version list. Otherwise, leave this value at Default.

  5. Linking reduces the overall size of your application by stripping out unused code.

    • In most cases, Linker Behavior should be set to the default value of Link Framework SDKs only.
    • Using the Don't Link option can cause Apple to reject the app due to the presence of non-public iOS APIs in Xamarin.iOS that would be linked out with the Link Framework SDKs only option
    • Link All should be used with care as it will strip code from all assemblies in the project, including 3rd party libraries. It can strip out code that the 3rd party library may only use via reflection that the linker cannot detect, as it does static code analysis to determine what library code is being used. Use Link All with care as you may have to manually preserve some classes and/or methods, etc., to avoid runtime failures due to missing code.
    • For more information, refer to the Linking Xamarin.iOS apps guide.
  6. For iOS 11, select one of the device architectures that supports ARM64. For more information on building for 64-bit iOS devices, please see the Enabling 64-Bit Builds of Xamarin.iOS Apps section of the 32/64-bit platform considerations documentation.

  7. You may wish to use the LLVM compiler to build smaller and faster code. However, this option increases compile times.

  8. Check Optimize PNG images to further decrease your application's size.

  9. Debugging should not be enabled, as it will make the build unnecessarily large.

  10. Based on your application's needs, you may also wish to adjust the type of Garbage Collection being used and set up for Internationalization.

    After setting the options described above, your build settings shouldlook similar to this:

    Also take a look at the iOS build mechanics guide, which further describes build settings.

  11. Navigate to the iOS Bundle Signing tab. Make sure that Configuration is set to Release, Platform is set to iPhone, and that Manual Provisioning is selected.

  12. Set Signing Identity to Distribution (Automatic).

  13. For Provisioning Profile, select the App Store provisioning profile created above.

    Your project's bundle signing options should now look similar to this:

  14. Navigate to the iOS IPA Options tab.

  15. Make sure that Configuration is set to Release and Platform is set to iPhone.

  16. Check the Build iTunes Package Archive (IPA) checkbox. This setting will cause each Release build (since that is the selected configuration) to generate an .ipa file. This file can be submitted to Apple for release on the App Store.

    Note

    iTunes Metadata and iTunesArtwork are not necessary for AppStore releases. For more information, take a look atThe iTunesMetadata.plist file in Xamarin.iOS appsand iTunes Artwork.

  17. To specify an .ipa filename that differs from the Xamarin.iOS project name, enter it in the Package Name field.

  18. Save the build configuration and close it.

Configure your app in iTunes Connect

iTunes Connect is a suite of web-based tools for managing your iOS applications on the App Store. Your Xamarin.iOS application must be properly configured in iTunes Connect before it can be submitted to Apple for review and released on the App Store.

To learn how to do this, read the Configuring an app in iTunes Connect guide.

Build and submit your app

With your build settings properly configured and iTunes Connect awaiting your submission, you can now build your app and submit it to Apple.

  1. In Visual Studio for Mac, select the Release build configuration and a device (not a simulator) for which to build.

  2. From the Build menu, select Archive for Publishing.

  3. Once the archive has been created, the Archives view will be displayed. Click Sign and Distribute... to open the publishing wizard.

    Note

    By default the Archives view only shows archives for the opensolution. To see all solutions that have archives, check the Show allarchives checkbox. It is a good idea to keep old archives so that thedebug information they include can be used to symbolicate crash reportsif necessary.

  4. Select the App Store distribution channel. Click Next.

  5. Select Upload as the destination. Click Next.

  6. In the Provisioning profile window, select your signing identity, app, and provisioning profile. Click Next.

  7. In the App Store Connect information window, select an Apple ID username from the menu and enter an app-specific password. Click Next.

  8. Verify the details of your package and click Publish. After selecting a location to save the .ipa file, the wizard will upload your app to App Store Connect.

    Note

    Apple may reject apps with the iTunesMetadata.plist included in the.ipa file, resulting in an error such as the following:

    ERROR: ERROR ITMS-90047: 'Disallowed paths ( 'iTunesMetadata.plist' ) found at: Payload/iPhoneApp1.app'

    For a workaround to this error, take a look at this post in the Xamarin Forums.

Ios Application StoreAlternative

Note

Publishing to the App Store is supported in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.3 and higher.

  1. Make sure that Visual Studio 2019 is paired to a Mac build host.

  2. Select Release from the Solution Configurations dropdown, and iPhone from the Solution Platforms dropdown.

  3. From the Build menu, select Archive.... This will open the Archive Manager and begin creating an archive.

  4. Once the archive has been created, click Distribute... to open the publishing wizard.

  5. Select the App Store distribution channel.

  6. Select your signing identity and provisioning profile. Click Upload to Store.

  7. Enter your Apple ID and an app-specific password. Click OK to begin uploading your app to App Store Connect.

Note

Visual Studio 2017 does not support the full publishing workflow found in Visual Studio for Mac and Visual Studio 2019.

The steps below are for Xcode 10.

You can still follow the steps below to build an .IPA file, but to deploy to the App Store using Xcode 11 (which is required for iOS 13 support) you should use Visual Studio for Mac.

Download
  1. Make sure that Visual Studio 2017 has been paired to a Mac build host.

  2. Select Release from the Visual Studio 2017 Solution Configurations dropdown, and iPhone from the Solution Platforms dropdown.

  3. Build the project. This creates an .ipa file.

    Note

    The Update the Release build configurationsection of this doc configured the app's build settings to create an.ipa file for each Release build.

  4. To find the .ipa file on the Windows machine, right-click on the Xamarin.iOS project name in the Visual Studio 2019 or Visual Studio 2017 Solution Explorer and choose Open Folder in File Explorer. Then, in the just-opened Windows File Explorer, navigate to the bin/iPhone/Release subdirectory. Unless you have customized the .ipa file output location, it should be in this directory.

  5. To instead view the .ipa file on the Mac build host, right-click the Xamarin.iOS project name in the Visual Studio 2019 or Visual Studio 2017 Solution Explorer (on Windows) and select Show IPA File on Build Server. This will open a Finder window on the Mac build host with the .ipa file selected.

    Tip

    The following steps are only valid if you're using Xcode 10, and building for iOS 12 and earlier.

    To deploy to the App Store using Xcode 11 (for iOS 13), you should use Visual Studio for Mac to build and upload your app. Application Loader will not be available for Xcode 11.

  6. On the Mac build host, open Application Loader. In Xcode, select Xcode > Open Developer Tool > Application Loader.

    Note

    For more information about the tool, take a look at Apple's docs about Application Loader.

  7. Log in to Application Loader (note that you must create an app-specific password for your Apple ID).

  8. Select Deliver Your App and click the Choose button:

  9. Select the .ipa file created above and click OK.

  10. The Application Loader will validate the file:

  11. Click the Next button and the application will be validated against the App Store:

  12. Click the Send button to send the application to Apple for review.

  13. The Application Loader will inform you when the file has been successfully uploaded.

    Note

    Apple may reject apps with the iTunesMetadata.plist included in the.ipa file, resulting in an error such as the following:

    ERROR: ERROR ITMS-90047: 'Disallowed paths ( 'iTunesMetadata.plist' ) found at: Payload/iPhoneApp1.app'

    For a workaround to this error, take a look at this post in the Xamarin Forums.

iTunes Connect status

To see the status of your app submission, log in to iTunes Connect andselect your app. The initial status should be Waiting For Review,though it may temporarily read Upload Received while it is being processed.

Tips and tricks

Customize the .ipa location

An MSBuild property, IpaPackageDir, makes it possible to customize the .ipa file output location. If IpaPackageDir is set to a custom location, the .ipa file will be placed in that location instead of the default timestamped subdirectory. This can be useful when creating automated builds that rely on a specific directory path to work correctly, such as those used for Continuous Integration (CI) builds.

There are several possible ways to use the new property. For example, to output the .ipa file to the old default directory (as in Xamarin.iOS 9.6 and lower), you can set the IpaPackageDir property to $(OutputPath) using one of the following approaches. Both approaches are compatible with all Unified API Xamarin.iOS builds, including IDE builds as well as command-line builds that use msbuild or mdtool:

  • The first option is to set the IpaPackageDir property within a <PropertyGroup> element in an MSBuild file. For example, you could add the following <PropertyGroup> to the bottom of the iOS app project .csproj file (just before the closing </Project> tag):

  • A better approach is to add a <IpaPackageDir> element to the bottom of the existing <PropertyGroup> that corresponds to the configuration used to build the .ipa file. This is better because it will prepare the project for future compatibility with a planned setting on the iOS IPA Options project properties page. If you currently use the Release iPhone configuration to build the .ipa file, the complete updated property group might look similar to the following:

An alternate technique for msbuild command-line builds is to add a /p: command line argument to set the IpaPackageDir property. In this case note that msbuild does not expand $() expressions passed in on the command line, so it is not possible to use the $(OutputPath) syntax. You must instead provide a full path name.

Or the following on Mac:

With your distribution build created and archived, you are now ready to submit your application to iTunes Connect.

Summary

This article described how to configure, build, and submit an iOS app forrelease on the App Store.

Related links

App Icon

Every app needs a beautiful and memorable icon that attracts attention in the App Store and stands out on the Home screen. Your icon is the first opportunity to communicate, at a glance, your app’s purpose. It also appears throughout the system, such as in Settings and search results.

Embrace simplicity. Find a single element that captures the essence of your app and express that element in a simple, unique shape. Add details cautiously. If an icon’s content or shape is overly complex, the details can be hard to discern, especially at smaller sizes.

Provide a single focus point. Design an icon with a single, centered point that immediately captures attention and clearly identifies your app.

Design a recognizable icon. People shouldn’t have to analyze the icon to figure out what it represents. For example, the Mail app icon uses an envelope, which is universally associated with mail. Take time to design a beautiful and engaging abstract icon that artistically represents your app’s purpose.

Keep the background simple and avoid transparency. Make sure your icon is opaque, and don’t clutter the background. Give it a simple background so it doesn’t overpower other app icons nearby. You don’t need to fill the entire icon with content.

Use words only when they’re essential or part of a logo. An app’s name appears below its icon on the Home screen. Don’t include nonessential words that repeat the name or tell people what to do with your app, like 'Watch' or 'Play.' If your design includes any text, emphasize words that relate to the actual content your app offers.

Don’t include photos, screenshots, or interface elements. Photographic details can be very hard to see at small sizes. Screenshots are too complex for an app icon and don’t generally help communicate your app’s purpose. Interface elements in an icon are misleading and confusing.

Don’t use replicas of Apple hardware products. Apple products are copyrighted and can’t be reproduced in your icons or images. In general, avoid displaying replicas of devices, because hardware designs tend to change frequently and can make your icon look dated.

Don’t place your app icon throughout the interface. It can be confusing to see an icon used for different purposes throughout an app. Instead, consider incorporating your icon’s color scheme. See Color.

Test your icon against different wallpapers. You can’t predict which wallpaper people will choose for their Home screen, so don’t just test your app against a light or dark color. See how it looks over different photos. Try it on an actual device with a dynamic background that changes perspective as the device moves.

Keep icon corners square. The system applies a mask that rounds icon corners automatically.

App Icon Attributes

All app icons should adhere to the following specifications.

AttributeValue
FormatPNG
Color spaceDisplay P3 (wide-gamut color), sRGB (color), or Gray Gamma 2.2 (grayscale). See Color Management.
LayersFlattened with no transparency
ResolutionVaries. See Image Size and Resolution.
ShapeSquare with no rounded corners

App Icon Sizes

Every app must supply small icons for use on the Home screen and throughout the system once your app is installed, as well as a larger icon for display in the App Store.

Device or contextIcon size
iPhone180px × 180px (60pt × 60pt @3x)
120px × 120px (60pt × 60pt @2x)
iPad Pro167px × 167px (83.5pt × 83.5pt @2x)
iPad, iPad mini152px × 152px (76pt × 76pt @2x)
App Store1024px × 1024px (1024pt × 1024pt @1x)

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Provide different sized icons for different devices. Make sure that your app icon looks great on all the devices you support.

Mimic your small icon with your App Store icon. Although the App Store icon is used differently than the small one, it’s still your app icon. It should generally match the smaller version in appearance, although it can be subtly richer and more detailed since there are no visual effects applied to it.

Spotlight, Settings, and Notification Icons

Every app should also provide a small icon that iOS can display when the app name matches a term in a Spotlight search. Additionally, apps with settings should provide a small icon to display in the built-in Settings app, and apps that support notifications should provide a small icon to display in notifications. All icons should clearly identify your app—ideally, they should match your app icon. If you don’t provide these icons, iOS might shrink your main app icon for display in these locations.

DeviceSpotlight icon size
iPhone120px × 120px (40pt × 40pt @3x)
80px × 80px (40pt × 40pt @2x)
iPad Pro, iPad, iPad mini80px × 80px (40pt × 40pt @2x)
DeviceSettings icon size
iPhone87px × 87px (29pt × 29pt @3x)
58px × 58px (29pt × 29pt @2x)
iPad Pro, iPad, iPad mini58px × 58px (29pt × 29pt @2x)
DeviceNotification icon size
iPhone60px × 60px (20pt × 20pt @3x)
40px × 40px (20pt × 20pt @2x)
iPad Pro, iPad, iPad mini40px × 40px (20pt × 20pt @2x)

Don’t add an overlay or border to your Settings icon. iOS automatically adds a 1-pixel stroke to all icons so that they look good on the white background of Settings.

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TIP If your app creates custom documents, you don't need to design document icons because iOS uses your app icon to create document icons automatically.

User-Selectable App Icons

For some apps, customization is a feature that evokes a personal connection and enhances the user experience. If it provides value in your app, you can let people select an alternate app icon from a set of predefined icons that are embedded within your app. For example, a sports app might offer icons for different teams or an app with light and dark modes might offer corresponding light and dark icons. Note that your app icon can only be changed at the user’s request and the system always provides the user with confirmation of such a change.

Provide visually consistent alternate icons in all necessary sizes. Like your primary app icon, each alternate app icon is delivered as a collection of related images that vary in size. When the user chooses an alternate icon, the appropriate sizes of that icon replace your primary app icon on the Home screen, in Spotlight, and elsewhere in the system. To ensure that alternate icons appear consistently throughout the system—the user shouldn't see one version of your icon on the Home screen and a completely different version in Settings, for example—provide them in the same sizes you provide for your primary app icon (with the exception of the App Store icon). See App Icon Sizes.

For developer guidance, see the setAlternateIconName method of UIApplication.

NOTE Alternate app icons are subject to app review and must adhere to the App Store Review Guidelines.