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My app update process

November 6, 2012


You might think doing an app update is primarily about the coding and testing. This post summarises the many steps I have to take between being “finished” and you getting an “update available” message from iTunes.

1. Documentation. Primarily this involves editing the built in User Guide, which is an HTML document. I also need to write the What’s New section for iTunes, which I also include in the User Guide (since many people miss this when updating).

2. Each update requires a new version number, so this needs to be updated in the app itself. Also if it is the first update of the year, I update the copyright notice.

3. Since the version number is shown on the application launch images (the brief image that is displayed when you launch the app), these need to be re-generated. Each app now has 7 launch images: portrait mode on the iPad (retina and non-retina); landscape mode on the iPad (retina and non-retina); the old iPhone/iPod Touch (retina and non-retina); finally the new iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only). I tend to use OmniGraffle to produce these.

4. Build the app for submission to Apple. This takes perhaps 30-60 seconds! 🙂

5. If I have changed something visual, I need to take new screenshots for iTunes. Since you can include up to 5 images, this involves taking 15 screenshots in total: 5 for the iPad (retina only), 5 for the old iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only) and 5 for the new iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only). Screenshots are taken by pressing the Home and Power buttons at the same time, and the resulting images are then trimmed to remove the status bar at the top of the screen.

6. I also take new screenshots for my website, typically in the order of 15-30 of them per app. I tend to use an “old” iPhone 4 for this, however I then have to resize each image down to 50% as the retina images are too big for the web.

7. Apple has a website called iTunes Connect where developers can manage their apps. I add the new app version, paste in the What’s New text and upload the 15 iTunes images (which can take ages). I can then submit the app for approval.

8. Despite some early horror stories, the approval process has always been very fair (IMHO). Typically apps are approved in around 5-10 days.

9. Finally once I get notified it has been approved, I upload all the screenshots to my website, update the text on my website and then officially release the new version. Phew!

10. For apps like Account Tracker, all of the above is repeated for the Free version. I also use separate screenshots for the US ($) vs the rest of the world (where I use £). As you can imagine, there are a LOT of images to upload (60 to iTunes in total, uploaded one at a time).

So next time you update one of my apps, now you know what I went through!