App Store Holiday Shutdown: How to Prepare Your App

December 6th, 2018

App Store Holiday Shutdown: How to Prepare Your App
David Quinn

by David Quinn

VP of Strategy & Partnerships at Gummicube, Inc.

Near the end of the year, Apple shuts down App Store Connect for around a week to allow its team some time off for the holidays. During this shutdown, new apps and updates will not be accepted. For app developers, that means it’s important to prepare apps in advance, so they’ll be all set for the break.

What and When

The App Store Connect holiday shutdown will run from December 23rd to the 27th, at which time developers will be unable to submit new apps or updates. While releases will still be able to go live, they must be submitted, approved and scheduled beforehand. Other App Store backend tools will still be accessible during that time. This allows Apple to give its reviewers a break, rather than working through the holidays to approve apps and fixes. This is simultaneously the same time of year when App Store downloads often peak, due to users receiving new iPhones and iPads as gifts and immediately searching for new apps to install. As a result, app developers need to prepare their apps and ensure they’re ready before it’s too late.

Prepare Your App

Developers looking to launch apps or updates during the shutdown period need to prepare them in advance. Once the 23rd rolls around it will be too late to submit anything new until the 27th. This means the app needs to be thoroughly tested for bugs and performance issues well in advance. Developers should not submit potentially buggy or underperforming builds, for two reasons- best case scenario, the app is rejected by Apple and will need to be resubmitted after the holiday break is over. Worst case scenario, the app has slow-downs, bugs or features that pass Apple review, but leave users with a bad experience. In this case, users may uninstall or leave negative reviews- with no way for the developer to fix things until the break is over. An app must be thoroughly tested and have any and all bugs addressed before launch. Beyond bugs, implementing or removing features and game mechanics should be carefully considered. There will be a long period without the ability to roll things back, all during one of the busiest times of the year. If you’re not prepared before the holiday shutdown, it may be too late.

Submit Early

The best way to ensure your app is ready for the holidays is to submit it well in advance. It may take a while for an app to be approved due to Apple being backlogged with submissions, so if an app is submitted on the 22nd it may not be approved before the shutdown begins on the 23rd. Submitting from the 17th through the 20th at the latest is a safer bet than scrambling to submit on Shutdown Eve. Submitting early also gives developers time to fix the app up should it be rejected. If there are problems with the content or the app has bugs in need of fixing, developers will want to have time to address these problems and submit again before the shutdown begins. In short, submit your app well in advance, leaving breathing room for fixes and potential Apple backlog. Even if it’s not meant to go live until a day during the shutdown, it can still be scheduled to launch at any time as long as it’s approved.

Seasonal Updates

Tis the season to decorate apps with festive cheer and imagery! While apps should already be updated with holiday events, sales and imagery, developers should also be prepared to revert them back to normal when the new year rolls around. While it’s not time to remove the seasonal changes yet (we’re not even a week into December, after all), developers should consider when they want to return the app back to normal. If it’s shortly after the holidays, be sure to submit the app for review with manual release selected before the shutdown. This will allow the app, if approved by Apple, to be ready to go when it’s time. Holiday seasonality will remain relevant well through winter break, but it’s important to think ahead. Be prepared for the new year with updated creatives, metadata and descriptions ready to roll out once the festivities end.

In Summary

As Apple will be shutting down App Store Connect from the 23rd through the 27th, developers need to prepare in advance. This means testing and fixing any and all bugs well ahead of time, submitting early in case of rejection or backlog, and scheduling launches of future updates or changes early. It may seem like a rush now, but this allows Apple’s employees to get some time off work to spend with their loved ones, and developers can take some time to enjoy the season themselves.

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