Before you submit an Android app to a curated store, read these tips on passing the QA process and responding in a productive way if your app is rejected.
If you have released apps for iOS, you're likely very familiar with the concept of a curated app store, and the need to be approved before your app can be seen by the world. If Android is your primary development platform, you may not have had to deal with getting your app past Quality Assurance (QA). This is because Google Play doesn't require QA before you release your app; instead, they remove apps from the store they deem problematic. In general, Google only removes malicious apps and ones that cause problems with carriers (such as tethering apps). So, why do Android developers need to worry about curated app stores?
Three curated Android app stores other than Play
There are a few big players in the Android game that support their own hardware and ecosystems. These app stores take a more controlled approach to letting apps into their walls, which means a QA team verifies that your app meets all of the rules. These are three of the big players:
- Amazon Appstore - The online retail giant hosts one of the highest profile alternate Android app markets, which is available for many devices besides the Kindle Fire.
- Barnes & Noble - The Nook family of tablets are the core of the Barnes & Noble digital world, and although this ecosystem is entirely separate from Google Play-capable devices, it still has a strong user base.
- BlackBerry - Currently the PlayBook is the only BlackBerry device that runs Android apps (read my previous post about converting your Android app to run on BlackBerry), but BlackBerry 10 promises to bring a lot more devices that can run converted Android apps.
Preparing to pass QA
For all three of the above app markets, there is a QA team that inspects each app that is submitted. Unless your app is very simple, or you are very thorough, you are likely to fall afoul of one or more rules of your target app store the first time you submit. When your submission is rejected, it means delays in getting released, so it would stand to reason that a little prevention would be worth your time.
The first thing you should do to prepare to pass QA is read the submission guidelines. Even if you've already read the guidelines, your app may not have been affected at the time, or perhaps you skimmed them a little too fast.
Next, make sure you take care of these obvious rules:
- Don't link outside of the target market (e.g., Google Play links have to be converted or removed)
- Don't use Licensing or In-App Purchasing libraries from Google Play
- Don't rely on other Google services (such as Maps or a Google Account)
This is far from an exhaustive list, but it should get you started. You know your app best, so be sure to investigate any of your app's external dependencies.
Even with a lot of preparation, it's possible that you'll miss something, or that you'll violate rules that weren't even public knowledge. Don't take the rejection personally, and remember that you'll get the chance to resubmit; before you do, be sure to thoroughly understand the reasons your apps was rejected. If you fix two out of three issues and resubmit, you will have to wait to see if your app is rejected again before you can move forward.
Try not to get too frustrated though, and take advantage of the free testing. I have fixed a few problems found by QA teams that have resulted in a better app for all platforms.
The best way to deal with the possibility of your first Android app submission being rejected from one of these curated app stores is to leave extra time for the QA process from the start. Many app stores allow you to create a release-on date, so you can go through QA well before as scheduled launch date.
Good luck getting your Android apps approved and available!