Publish to App Store (iOS)

Publishing your app to the App Store can be a rewarding process.

Apple requires a lot information for apps that are available in their App Store. As a result, the publishing process can feel long and will require at least 20 minutes to complete the necessary steps, which currently requires information from 4 different Apple websites.

Thunkable is continually looking for ways to streamline the publishing process and has made it possible for creators to publish from a non-Mac computer, which is normally required from the standard publishing process.

Table of Contents

Minimum requirements

Apple holds a high standard for apps that are approved for distribution in the App Store so please review Apple's policies and guidelines to make sure your app is in compliance before you sign up for the Apple Developer Program

  • Apple Developer Program membership ($100/year). Don't have one? Sign up here.

Overview

  1. โ€‹Register your App IDโ€‹

Sign into your Apple Developer Account

The first, and probably most important, piece of information you will need is an Apple Developer Account. To obtain a developer account you must enrol in the Apple Developer Program.

Developer Accounts for Schools

Certain educational institutions qualify for free Apple developer accounts. To check if your school or university if eligible, please visit this Apple site.

Apple

Thunkable

Thunkable enables you to send your project directly to the App Store without the need for any specialized software or hardware. To begin the process, click on the Publish icon and choose the Publish to App Store (iOS) option from the drop-down menu.

A publishing dialog will pop-up on screen to guide you through the publication process. Please take a moment to read all the instructions on screen the click the Get Started button to proceed.

Enter the Apple ID and password that are associated with your Apple Developer account. Since Two Factor Authentication (2FA) is now the default for Apple accounts, it is assumed that you have this enabled, and the rest of this guide shows the steps for publishing with 2FA enabled. Click the Next button to log in and continue to the next step.

Register your App ID

Every app published on the App Store must have a unique name. For example, there can only ever be one app called Thunkable Sample App.

Apple

Go to the Apple Developer website to register a new App ID. Click through the tabs below to see each screen in the ID creation process.

Step 6 in the tabs below shows you where to find your App Name, Team ID, and Bundle ID.

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Open your Apple Developer account page and choose the Certificates, IDs & Profiles option from the menu on the left hand side of the screen.

From the menu on the left, click on the Identifiers menu item

Click on the blue + icon to add a new ID to your account.

Choose App IDs from the list of options and then click on the blue Continue button to go to the next screen.

For the app Description enter the name you want to give your app and for the Bundle ID enter the bundle ID from your Thunkable project settings. Click Continue to review these details.

Once you are happy with these detail, click Register to confirm your app ID.

This new app ID is added to your list of app IDs.

Thunkable

Back in Thunkable, you will be prompted for your App Name, Team ID and Bundle ID. If you are unsure of what these are, please refer to Step 6, above.

  • App Name: The app Name must be unique to the App Store and is what appears next to the app icon when it is downloaded on a user's phone.

  • Team ID: A unique account identifier that is linked to your Apple Developer Program membership. Apple will automatically create this for you, and it can be used for every app you publish.

  • Bundle ID: Also unique to your app, but not visible to your app users. If you plan on publishing multiple apps, we suggest you create a Wildcard App ID. Otherwise, a single Explicit App ID should work. Apple recommends reversing your domain name to create your bundle ID i.e.

    • com.yourDomainName.yourAppName to avoid conflicts with other apps.

Create a Distribution Certificate

Two-factor authentication helps to keep your account secure and Apple has made it mandatory for new developers to turn two-factor authentication on. If you do have 2FA turned on, you'll need to complete the following steps to confirm your identity with Apple.

Thunkable

In the publishing dialog, click the link that says Click to Download CSR. This is your Certificate Signing Request file and you will need it to generate an iOS Distribution Certificate.

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Apple

Go to the Certificates page in your Apple Developer account to generate an iOS Distribution Certificate. Two-factor authentication helps to keep your account secure and Apple is making it mandatory for new developers to turn two-factor authentication on.

You may already have an account certificate in your account. You can only have two certificates per account so you may need to revoke a certificate before you can create a new one.

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Click on the blue + icon to create a new iOS distribution certificate.

Choose iOS Distribution (App Store and Ad Hoc) from the next list and click Continue.

Upload the Certificate Signing Request you download from Thunkable and click Continue to get your certificate.

Click the blue Download button to save a copy of this certificate to your computer.

Back in Thunkable, click the Upload Certificate button and choose the .cer file that you have just created.

Provision your App

Provisioning profiles are required by Apple to install an app on a device. You need to create a .mobileprovision file in your Apple account and then return to Thunkable to upload this file.

Apple

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Open up the Profiles list in your Apple Developer account and click the blue + button to get started.

Make sure you are creating a Distribution profile and that the App Store option (highlighted above) is selected. Click Continue to choose an App ID.

From the drop down menu, choose the ID for the app that you are trying to publish. Click Continue to go to the next page.

Choose a certificate and click Continue.

Finally, give your provisioning profile a meaningful name and hit the Generate button.

Once the provisioning profile has been generated you can then Download it to your computer.

The profile has a .mobileprovisionfile type. You now need to go back to Thunkable and upload this file.

Thunkable

Back in Thunkable, upload your .mobileprovision file and click the Next button to go to the next step; Generating an app-specific password.โ€‹

Generate an app-specific password

Apple requires app-specific passwords to sign-in securely from Thunkable. Once you have created your app specific password this will be saved in your Thunkable project, thus allowing your to upload your project to the App Store and to make future updates to you app, if needed.

Apple

Go to the Apple ID account website and create an app-specific password.

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Step 1: Enter your Apple ID and Password

Step 2: If prompted, enter your 6 digit authentication code.

Step 3: Once signed in, click on the Generate password... link highlighted above.

Step 4: Give your password a meaningful name so you will be able to recognise it later.

Step 5: You will not be able to retrieve this password once you click Done so make sure you save it some place safe.

Thunkable

Paste your app-specific password into the empty text box and click the Next button to send your project to App Store Connect.

App Store Connect

App Store Connect is where you'll prepare your app store listing

Thunkable

At this point in the process the publishing dialog will prompt your to crate a new app on App Store Connect. Simply click the link to open this site in a new tab.

Apple

Go to the App Store Connect websiteโ€‹

App Store Connect is your portal for managing your submission to the App Store.

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You will need to use the same App Name and Bundle ID you registered earlier. If you registered an 'Explicit App ID', you will enter it into the Bundle ID field above.

App info

You're almost there.

Upload an app icon

This app icon appears when a user downloads your app from the App Store. Our recommended size is 192 x 192 px.

Set a build and version number

The version number is visible to your users when they download a new version of your app. The build number needs to increase with each version and is only visible to you. You can opt to let Thunkable automatically increment your build and version numbers.

Permissions

Apple requires that you explain to users why you may need access to a sensitive services like a camera, photo library and microphone. You can add these explanations in the App Settings panel.

Congratulations

You should shortly receive an email from Thunkable to let you know that your app is being sent to the App Store. There are still a number of steps that Apple need to take before your app can be downloaded, but that's everything completed from the Thunkable side of things - congrats!

Send to App Store Connect

You should receive an email from Apple that says your app is ready in the App Store Connect website. This may take up to an hour.

If your app is submitted successfully, it should appear under the Testflight tab in your App Store Connect dashboard. Testflight is a tool from Apple that allows you to test your app before it is submitted for release in the App Store.

(If there are any issues, youโ€™ll get an email from us telling you what youโ€™ll need to fix.)

If your app is sent successfully, you'll see a new build under the TestFlight tab in your App Store Connect dashboard. Testflight allows you to invite beta testers to your app before you release it in the App Store.

Troubleshooting

You do not see your app uploaded to App Store Connect

  • Download. One way to check if your app is build-able is to download it to your phone first. Two common download errors are:

    • You uploaded an icon that has the same name as an existing asset that you have uploaded

    • Your app icon is not an image file

  • Icons. Apple additionally does not allow you to have any icons with any transparent colors. We recommend app icons to be 192 x 192 px

  • Membership. To publish to the App Store, you'll need to sign up for Apple Developer Program Membership. This currently costs $99 / year.

  • App Store Connect. Make sure to follow this step on creating a new app on iTunes Connect

  • Certificates. If you have an existing Apple Developer Program account with 2 iOS certificates, you'll have to revoke one. Apple only allows developers to have 2 iOS certificates at a time and Thunkable creates one when it publishes to your account

  • Provisioning profile. After you revoke your certificate, it is possible that one or more of your provisioning profiles will become inactive. To publish successfully, you'll also need to delete any inactive provisioning profiles

  • Two-factor authentication. You must turn off two-factor authentication for your Apple Developer ID to publish with Thunkable. Please click here to see our recommendations for turning off two-factor authentication

  • Login. Apple ID or password were entered incorrectly. Since we don't store either one, there's no easy way for us to check so enter it slowly

  • Apple ID and privacy terms. You must accept Apple's new Apple ID and privacy terms.

Submit your app for review

Congrats. You're so close.

There are three main steps that are required before you can submit your app for review. To complete the steps, you will need:

  • Design assets

    • Icon (1024 x 1024 px)

    • iPhone and iPad screenshots

  • Privacy policy url for all apps

App information

The App Information section is straightforward but does include a privacy policy url, which is required for all apps

Pricing and availability

Design assets

The final section requires screenshots for both iPhone and iPad and a high resolution icon.

The high resolution icon will be featured in the App Store listing and must be 1024 x 1024 px with no transparency. To generate this icon, we recommend a tool like this.

As described in Apple's screenshot specifications document, screenshots are required from two models of iPhone and two models of iPad.

You'll also need to select the build version that you want to submit.

Export compliance

You may need to answer a question about export compliance. You can select 'no' when asked if you app uses encryption since apps made on Thunkable for iOS do not at the moment.

Advertising identifier

After submitting your app for review, you may asked, "Does this app use the Advertising Identifier (IDFA)?"

The app will still be able to be published but you will want to check the following three boxes:

  • Attribute this app installation to a previously served advertisementโ€

  • โ€œAttribute an action taken within this app to a previously served advertisementโ€

  • โ€œI, YOUR_NAME, confirm that this app, and any third partyโ€ฆโ€

Note, you should not check the box labeled โ€œServe advertisements within the appโ€.

Adding Push Notifications

If you are adding Push Notifications to an app that is already published, you will need to create a new .mobileprovision file. Here's a quick overview of what that process looks like.

Click on Provisioning Profiles > All to see your current iOS provisioning profiles. Notice that the app you just created is now invalid so we need to generate a new one.

Open the inactive profile and click on Edit to generate a new one.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Generate.

On the next screen, click the Download button and the .mobileprovision file will be saved to your downloads folder.

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