Apple eases iOS app transfers between developers, new owners

Apple's iTunes Connect lets developers smoothly move apps, user reviews, and rankings to new owner

Application developers can now easily transfer their iOS apps to new owners -- along with user reviews and rankings -- directly through iTunes Connect. It's a noteworthy change that Apple slipped in among a slew of announcements at its Worldwide Developers Conference this week. Previously, Apple provided ways for developers to transfer app ownership, but the options were limited and inelegant.

Developers should welcome the new transfer capability, as it creates a potential new revenue stream for those who don't necessarily have the interest or resources to maintain and market their apps. Anything Apple (or Google or Microsoft or RIM) can do to make third-party developers happy and wealthier is a good thing; mobile platforms live and die by the size and quality of their app libraries.

The details as to how to transfer your iOS apps to a new owner are buried in the iTunes Connect Developer Guide. Before an app can be transferred, it needs to meet several criteria. First, the app can't be using an iCloud entitlement or a Passbook entitlement. Second, all iAd accounts must be properly established and up to date. Third, Apple has to have approved at least one version of the app.

Additionally, the app being transferred can't have any auto-renewable subscription, free subscription, or non-renewing subscription in-app purchases. "Even if you have had subscriptions that were approved in the past, but were deleted, the app is not currently eligible for App Transfer," according to the documentation.

Furthermore, the app being transferred can't have any of the same in-app purchase Product IDs as the apps in the recipient's account.

As another criterion, the app must be set to one of the following states: Ready for Sale; Pending Contract; Prepare for Upload; Developer Removed from Sale; Invalid Binary; Developer Rejected; or Rejected. In-app purchases must be in one of the following states: Approved; Ready to Submit; Developer Removed from Sale; or Rejected.

From there, a team agent with a valid Apple ID and team ID can initiate the transfer by clicking the Transfer App button on the App Summary page. iConnect will verify that the app meets all the appropriate criteria. Next, the agent enters the Apple ID of the recipient's Team Agent, as well as the company or organization ID. Finally, you verify the transfer information and terms and click "Request Transfer."

During the transfer process, the app stays at its assigned status, but the "Pending App Transfer" status is added. The owner can still change the price of the app during this time.

The recipient will receive an alert that the transfer has been initiated and has 60 days to approve or it will be automatically canceled. The recipient will also have to enter new metadata, such as a new support URL, Atom Feed URL, marketing URL, privacy policy URL, and contact information. Completing the app transfer can take up to two days.

A couple of important notes before transferring an app: First, the source code and binary are not included in the transfer process with iTunes Connect; they must be transferred separately. Apple recommends that the recipient requests information about any special app functionality, such as keychain details or push notifications, so as to maintain the app's functionality with future updates.

Also, during the app-transfer process, certain actions may automatically take place if the app is associated with any others. For example, apps that were part of a cross-app Multiplayer Compatibility Matrix will not long be compatible, nor will they appear in the other app's matrix. Apps that are part of a Game Center group will be removed from the group during the transfer; when the process is completed, the leaderboards and achievements revert to their original status.

This article, "Apple eases iOS app transfers between developers, new owners," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.