iTunes Connect Availability Date vs. Release Date Explained
— Information below is outdated and kept here for SEO —
When we submit our first app to the iTunes Connect, one of the most confusing things was understanding the difference between Availability Date and Release Date. There are many discussions about that topic and some of them thinks that as a “BUG” but in reality there is no bug, that’s just how it works. To get listed on top of the “New Releases” there is no need to set Availability Date in the future and change it back to same as the Release Date once it’s released. Once you understand the connection between two, all should be clear.
You may initially set that date while creating your app record in iTunes Connect for the first time, it’s also editable after that even if your app is live… By default, it’s set to the date of your app record creation. Or you may set it to a different date in future.
Simply, you have no control over this. When your app passes the review and it’s status becomes “Ready for Sale” your app is “released” by Apple at that date.
So, how those really works?
First rule is, only when the current date (today) is greater than the both, your app becomes visible on the AppStore. in other words, your app must be both “released” by Apple and “made available” by you. Otherwise, it won’t be listed anywhere.
You can use Availability Date to make your app appear on the store on a specific date. For example, if you are planning a marketing campaign and want your app to be available on a specific date but not before that, you can use that to make that happen. Only if your app is released by Apple prior to that date of course…
But there is one downside of doing that, you’ll miss the opportunity to getting listed on top of the “New Releases” section of your app categories.
If you want to be listed on top of the “New Releases’ simply do not change the Availability Date when setting up your app.
Let’s say the App is created on January 1st, you didn’t change the Availability Date so it is also January 1st. And let’s suppose your app waited a week for the review and released by apple at January 8th, which is also the Release Date. Outcome: Your app will be available on the App Store at January 8th and will be listed on top of the New Releases list…
Let’s say the App is created on January 1st, but you DID change the Availability Date to match your marketing release, so let’s say it is January 15th. And let’s suppose your app waited a week for the review and released by apple at January 8th, which is also the Release Date. Outcome: Your app will be available on the App Store at January 15th but it won’t be listed on top of the “New Releases”. It will be still listed, but among the apps released about a week ago, few pages back…
So there is no “BUG”, no need for hacks or fixes…
If you do not need a synchronised release with your marketing, do not change the “Availability Date” or if you do, make sure to set it to a date before Apple’s “Release Date”. You’ll get full possible exposure on “New Releases” list of your app categories.