Side effects of transferring iOS application

itunes connect, app store, ios, certificates 3 mins edit

When the time you are selling your long-developed application comes, or you are about to take over an app, you probably do not bother about the transition process. Although Apple has described the steps in details, you should consider potential consequences before starting the transition.

You should also make sure that the application meets all criteria and is eligible for the transfer. What is most important, the app must have had at least one version that has been released to the App Store and no version of the app used an iCloud entitlement or a Passbook entitlement.

Backup data

Once the application is moved to a new account it is no longer available on the old one. This means that the initiator will lose all information about the app including the metadata, dates when it was available on the App Store, pricing, sales, or downloads statistics. You should back up all those information for your records, as there is no possibility of getting it back after the transition.

Prepare yourself

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If your application uses any of these features, you need to take some additional actions:

  • Auto-renewable subscriptions - if an app uses this kind of subscriptions, then probably something verifies their validity (e.g. backend). To make sure that the recipients will be able to validate subscriptions during the transition, the initiator needs to generate an app-specific shared secret before initiating a transfer and share the code with the recipients so they could set up their own validation. Once the app transfer is complete, the recipients should generate a new shared secret so the users outside the organization had no longer access to it.

  • Apple Pay - the merchant ID is not transferred along with the app. The transaction continues to be successful as long as the original certificates are valid. While submitting an update, the recipients need to generate a neaw merchant ID.

  • Keychain - while submitting the first update after the transition you will receive an email warning about Potential Loss of Keychain Access. After the app transition the Team ID changes so the application-identifier turns from [old-team].pl.brightinventions.app into [new-team].pl.brightinventions.app, which results in a loss of keychain access. After users update their app, it will not find an authentication token and ask for a re-login. Keychain sharing also continues to work only until the app is updated and needs to be replaced with a keychain group created by the recipients.

  • Push notifications - client SSL certificates for push notifications are not transferred so the recipients need to create their own certificates and upload them to the their push notifications service (backend, Firebase, etc.).

Additionally, if an app is a part of a cross-app Multiplayer Compatibility Matrix, it will no longer be compatible with or appear in other app’s matrix. Similarly, if an app is a part of an app bundle, you will no longer be able to view the app bundle’s history.

It takes time

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Processing the app transfer can take up to two business days. During this time you will not be able to edit the app metadata, rights, pricing, and in-app purchases, so you should make sure you will not need any urgent changes during this time.

Transferring the app is unnoticeable to the users and properly prepared should not affect them in any way. However, you should update the terms of service and the data protection conditions so they match the new owner policies.

Transferring an application to another account is not difficult, but it is requires understanding the process and making some preparations, especially if you use push notifications, keychain, Apple Pay, auto-renewable subscriptions or when your application is a part of cross-app Multiplayer Compatibility Matrix or app bundles.