I'm not sure why it took Apple so long to get aboard the sticker train, but as a long-time admirer of the cute stickers on KakaoTalk and Line, I firmly believe stickers are the best new feature on iMessage. No longer are we confined to the limited emotional range of emoji (I still love you, thinking face emoji), when we now have a dabbing Binky or retro pixel pokémon to express ourselves with. Inspired by all the wacky sticker packs available on the Messages App Store, I decided I wanted to make my own. How hard could it be?
After about three days of confusion and minimal crying, I'm thrilled to announce that my first app ever is now available on the iMessage App Store! You can use the As Per Usual sticker pack to express that relatable feeling when you're listening to music on a train pretending to be in a music video, or to bully your friends by slapping multiple stickers on top of their messages.
I'm here to share the process of how a joker like me with no coding experience got an app on the App Store. It took a lot of gumption and Googling but I persevered, and you can, too!
1. Make a developer account
You'll have to pay Apple $100 / year for this, but just cough up the money with the naive yet optimistic hopes that you'll break even!
2. Download Xcode 8
Honestly, the hardest part of this whole ordeal was making room for enough storage to download Xcode. Also, make sure your OS is updated to at least El Capitan or higher to run Xcode 8.
3. Make your stickers
This is the fun part! For sticker sizes, you have a choice of three different image dimensions, as shown below from Apple's iOS Guidelines. The guidelines suggest things like adding "vitality through animations" that you "consider using vibrant colors and transparency." Just make sure the images don't exceed 500KB, aren't depicting anything you wouldn't want your mother to see or contain anything you could possibly be sued for, and you're good!
5. Upload your stickers to Xcode
Apple has a nice step-by-step video tutorial for getting set up in Xcode and adding your stickers. It's really just as simple as dragging your folder of stickers into the interface.
6. Create your App icon
This is definitely the most time-consuming and annoying part. Once you've designed the App Store icon you want to represent your app, you have to resize it into a bunch of different size requirements. Apple has icon templates available for download here, but I have no idea how to use layer masks so I just made my own. That's about the exact skill level you need to get stickers on to the App Store!
7. Sign into iTunes Connect and fill out all the administrative stuff because you need to get money, get paid
iTunes Connect is where you'll write your app description, upload preview images, and decide how much to charge for your app. This is also where you'll put down your bank and tax information, if you're making a paid application.
You can do this through Xcode or Application Launcher. Once you've uploaded the build, check to make sure all the app information is ready, and send it off for review!
9. Test your app
While your app is undergoing review for approval, you can send out test invitations through TestFlight. Just add your testers' iTunes email to iTunes Connect and they'll receive an invitation to try out your stickers for 60 days.
And that's it! It took me a weekend to make and exactly 5 days after submission to get my sticker pack approved, but the satisfaction of feeling like a hackerman will last a lifetime.