Frank's Blog

Magic Mimi (on the Apple App Store) 

Dear Reader,

I proudly announce my first mobile app that ever made it to the App Store (Apple this time). While it is actually not the next big thing (this is yet to come), it nevertheless served as a good test on getting an app approved and published in the Apple App Store. But let’s begin step-by-step.

What is Magic Mimi? Well, Magic Mimi is a little language writing practice/primer app for your kid that just entered the school. Actually, my little one asked me for a personal app with some artworks made by her and her (older) sister. So I came up with the idea of creating a practice app that uses Siri to speaks out arbitrary words from a configurable word list. My little one then has to practice typing them in correctly. If she succeeds, she gets a flower. If not, she gets at least a hint. I enhanced the idea a little bit by adding support for multiple word lists as well as English, German, and French words (which are spoken via the corresponding Siri voice). I also internationalized the app into German and English. Take a look yourself:



If you want to try it out for yourself, just search the App Store for „Magic Mimi“ or go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/magic-mimi/id1063151668.

The lessons learned from submitting something to the Apple App Store: Be sure to check the review guidelines first - there are written in a very informal style: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/. Actually, I already got hooked by the first four bullet points of the summary:
  • „We have lots of kids downloading lots of Apps. Parental controls work great to protect kids, but you have to do your part too. So know that we're keeping an eye out for the kids.“. Ok, let’s keep this in mind—-Magic Mimi is an App for kids. No advertisement in so far (and I will make sure to keep it out).
  • „We have over a million Apps in the App Store. If your App doesn't do something useful, unique or provide some form of lasting entertainment, or if your app is plain creepy, it may not be accepted.“. Wait a minute, is there really no other primer app in the store (or dozens)? I checked and checked but couldn’t figure the answer so far (from the point of view of a Mathematician ;-)
  • „If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you're trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.“. Ok. I definitely spend a lot of hours into testing, internationalization, and others things but in the end all the artwork were made by my kids—-for kids. No professional artists for far.
  • „We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, "I'll know it when I see it". And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.“. This is a really though one that I think can kill every app.

While all of this seemed very hard to overcome, the most frustrating experience publishing an app in the Apple App Store is the time it needs to get checked. I submitted Magic Mimi on a Sunday and it was in review for a couple of minutes just seven days later! Unfortunately, the review just took a couple of minutes until someone (or maybe just a script) figured that I did not link directly to a privacy statement webpage (which is required for apps for kids). I actually created the privacy statement and linked it on the homepage but only referenced the home page directly. Fixing this error took me three seconds. But then I thought about it a couple of minutes longer: What if every feedback loop involves one week? So I carefully checked every detail of the many meta information fields again.

Finally I held my breath, clicked submit again and prayed that there will not be any issue with the app itself (just see the other bullet points from Apple’s guidelines). Good news: I received the next feedback after just five days instead of seven! And the really good news: Magic Mimi got approved and you can finally download it to your phone!

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