Eugene Belinski

Lessons learned from publishing an iOS sticker pack

I recently went through the process of publishing a sticker pack for the first time to the iMessages App Store. I submitted a sticker pack called Antisocial Alison, designed by my sister Adriana. Along the way, we made some interesting observations.

Almost no one knows what a sticker pack is

When Apple announced iOS 10 in June 2016, the new iMessages App Store was highly touted, being the third “App Store” ever launched by Apple. It made it possible for iPhone and iPad owners to download apps made specifically for the iMessages app and packs of stickers that they could send to friends. Over a year later, it’s clear that most people still don’t use these new iMessages features. Most friends we shared the sticker pack with had never used stickers before, and usually needed help installing our pack.

Hopefully, iOS 11 will gradually change this. With this update, iMessages apps and sticker packs are much more prominent, inviting users to explore the store.

A sticker pack is an app without the app

As an iOS engineer, the process of making and publishing a sticker pack felt eerily familiar: Create an Xcode project, fiddle around with media assets in Xcode, try to submit a sticker pack as an archive via Xcode, deal with obscure errors in the upload process, deal with weird Xcode signing issues, look for a solution on Stack Overflow, upload the archive with Application Loader instead, promise that you’re not using an Advertising Identifiers during the submission process in iTunes Connect, try to convince your friends to download TestFlight to try out your beta, submit your app to Apple reviewers, cross your fingers, breathe a sigh of relief, make an update by incrementing the version and build numbers in Xcode, and check in the changes to your git repository.

Basically, it’s the whole process of building a native iOS app, sans writing even a line of code.

Good luck doing anything else with your sticker pack

After submitting the sticker pack to the App Store, we tried to find other places we could submit it. WhatsApp doesn’t have stickers. Facebook Messenger, the most popular app with sticker packs, doesn’t accept submissions. Google Allo doesn’t either. (Not that anyone uses Allo.) LINE may be just about the only other messaging app we could submit to.

Have you ever submitted a sticker pack? I’d love to hear your experience. I’m @EugeneBelinski on Twitter, and my email can be found here.