Preparing Your iMessage App for Submission

The App Store for iMessage is now available to customers worldwide on iOS 10. Prepare and submit your iMessage apps, sticker packs, and metadata for review.

Build and test your iMessage app.

Build your iMessage app for iOS 10 with the most up-to-date version of Xcode and iOS 10. Optimize your app’s design and distribute it to your beta testers on their iPhone and iPad with TestFlight.

Xcode 8 and iOS 10

Download the latest versions of iOS 10 and Xcode 8, which includes the tools you’ll need to build, test, and submit your apps to the App Store for iMessage. Please note you must have at least 12 GB of available space on your Mac running OS X 10.11.5 or later to install Xcode.

Optimizing Your Design and Images

iMessage apps let people share content with friends, communicate expressively, and enjoy collaborative experiences within Messages. Get details on optimizing your app to provide an interactive experience that works well within the context of a Messages conversation.

iMessage Apps

With the Messages framework, you can build a standalone iMessage app or an extension to an iOS app that lets users interact with your iOS app without leaving Messages. Consider the capabilities of each option as you build your app.

Standalone App

Sticker pack app. This is a basic sticker pack made up of images or animated images, which you don’t need to use code to build. You can list it in the Stickers category and in relevant Stickers subcategories on the App Store for iMessage.

iMessage app. Your app can include stickers, text, video and audio. You can also use code to add functionality such as Apple Pay and in-app purchase. Choose to list your app in the Stickers category or another relevant category on the App Store for iMessage.

Extensions to iOS App

Sticker pack extension. You can bundle a sticker pack with your iOS app. The sticker pack will be listed on the App Store for iMessage in the same category and with the same description as your iOS app on the App Store.

iMessage app extension. Your extension can include the same features as your standalone iMessage app, and let users access features of your iOS app within Messages. Your iMessage app will be listed on the App Store for iMessage in the same category and with the same description as your iOS app on the App Store.

TestFlight Beta Testing

The TestFlight app, available on the App Store, lets you distribute beta versions of iMessage apps to testers on their iOS devices for valuable feedback. You can invite up to 2,000 testers using just their email address.

Get your product page ready.

Customers can view your product page on the App Store for iMessage and on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, to help them understand the value of your app. Get your app’s name, description, screenshots, and keywords ready for your submission in iTunes Connect.

App Icon

Your app icon is one of the first elements of your app that users see, so it’s essential to make a strong first impression that communicates your app’s quality and purpose.

You’ll need to upload two icons: one for the App Store for iMessage, and one for the App Store for iPhone and iPad. The file you upload for the App Store for iMessage is a rectangular version of your icon at 1024 x 768 pixels. The icon file you upload for the App Store for iPhone and iPad is 1024px by 1024px.

While these images are large for scaling purposes, your icon is usually seen at small sizes. Make sure that the images gracefully scale down to smaller sizes. The system will resize your icon and apply an oval mask for the App Store for iMessage. Do not upload an oval icon. Keep the design simple and note that elements on the outer edges will be obscured by the oval mask. If your icon is designed with a white or light background, a hairline stroke will be added for display on the App Store.

Before uploading your icon in iTunes Connect, get details on designing icons for the App Store for iMessage from the iOS Human Interface Guidelines: iMessage Apps and Stickers.

App Name and Description

You can use the terms iMessage and Stickers in your app name and description. If you use these terms, don’t repeat them in your keyword field, and vice versa. For more information on writing effective product page metadata, read the App Store Product Page.

Keywords

Keywords are limited to 100 characters total, with words separated by commas and no spaces. You can use the terms iMessage and Stickers in your keywords. If you use a term in your keyword field, don’t repeat it in your app name, and vice versa. For information on writing effective keywords, read Optimizing for App Store Search.

Using the iMessage Name

iMessage should always be written in English, even when it appears within text of another language. Always write iMessage as one word with a lowercase “i” and an uppercase “M”.

Screenshots

For all iMessage apps and iOS extensions, provide separate sets of screenshots of your iMessage content for iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Pro. These screenshots will be used across device sizes. You can upload up to five screenshots per set to showcase the iMessage experience. You will need to upload your screenshots to both the App Preview and Screenshots section and the iMessage section of your app’s version page in My Apps on iTunes Connect.

When showing conversations in Messages, make sure the information and accounts you display are not real. Do not display phone numbers. For screenshot specifications, see the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.

App Preview

Your app preview footage demonstrates the features, functionality, and UI of your app. For iOS apps with iMessage or Sticker extensions, you can show both the iOS app experience and the iMessage app experience. Do not show the Home screen or the transition from the app to the extension. App previews are displayed on the App Store for iPhone and iPad and are not displayed on the App Store for iMessage. Learn more about app previews.

Category

The App Store for iMessage shows apps browsable by primary categories. There is a new category called Stickers, which appears at the top of the category list on the App Store for iMessage. The Stickers category also contains Sticker subcategories. The Stickers category is only available to standalone Sticker Pack apps and iMessage apps. You can choose Stickers as a primary category and one Stickers subcategory.

Categories for your iOS apps with iMessage or Sticker extensions are taken from your iOS app and are used on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iMessage. iOS apps with iMessage or Sticker extensions can’t choose the Stickers category. For more information, read Choosing a Category.

Submit to the App Store for iMessage.

Before submitting your app for review, make sure it adheres to the App Review Guidelines, you’ve tested your iMessage app, and it’s ready to be released to your customers. For more details on the App Store submission process, see the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.

Submit for Review

All iMessage apps and sticker packs submitted to the App Store are reviewed based on a set of technical, content, and design criteria. Make sure to use our guidelines and resources before submitting your app for review.

Release Date

Set your release date to "automatic" so your app is available for customers to download as soon as it's approved. If you prefer to release the app yourself, choose a release date or manually release it at any point after the approval. For more information on app submission, read the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.

Linking to Your Product Page

Your marketing has the biggest impact when users can instantly act on their interest to download your app. When your app is live, be sure to drive users directly to your product page on the App Store for iMessage so that they can download and immediately use the app within Messages. To do this, add ?app=messages to the end of your App Store URL. If your URL already has an App Analytics campaign link or other query parameter, add &app=messages to the end of your App Store URL.

If you don’t include this parameter in your App Store URL, or if users are on an operating system lower than iOS 10, the link will open the product page on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, and users can download your app from there.