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Is My Mobile App Name Unique & How Do I Reserve It (Part 2)

How to Reserve an App Name

In our last blog post we described the process for finding any existing published apps that are already using your desired app name/title.

Assuming you have completed that process and found no other live iPhone or Android apps using your name, you will now want to reserve your app name.  The ability to reserve an app name/title is very different between iOS and Android mobile apps, each with unique considerations.

iOS Apps

Let’s start with reserving your app name for an iPhone or iPad app.  With Apple, this involves setting up a developer account.  If you are using a developer to build your app, they can certainly open the account for you.  However, in almost all cases, whether they set it up for you, or you set it up, you will probably want to make sure that the Apple developer account (and this actually goes for setting up a Google developer account as well) is set up under your app’s business name and your personal contact information; phone and email address, specifically.  There are several reasons you want to do this.

First, if your app is set up under your developer’s name, the app will be published and listed under their name, and not the name of your app, or your personal name.  For branding purposes, would you rather be marketing your app, or marketing your developer?  Secondly, with intellectual property, listing your software to the public under your developer’s name could muddy the waters in any type of disagreement about ownership rights. And finally, if you set up your developer account using your developer’s contact information, instead of yours, whenever Apple has to contact you about any issues or important updates, you would be completely in the dark about such matters unless, and until, the developer relays the message.

Regardless of what contact information you use to set up your developer accounts, the actual process of signing up for an Apple developer account is very easy.  First thing to know is that, while it is free to create an Apple developer account, if you want to reserve an app name, and later submit it for publishing to the App Store, the cost is $99 per year.

To get the ball rolling, start by going to www.apple.developer.com.  Answer a few basic questions.  For the Apple ID, if you already have an Apple ID, you can use that to start creating your developer account, but for legal and security reasons, it’s probably best if you create a new, and unique, Apple ID for your mobile app development(s).  Once you set up your unique Apple ID, you will need to enroll in the Apple Developer Program to reserve your app name, and eventually to publish the app.  Select to enroll as an individual or an organization, enter the proper contact information as we discussed above, pay the fee, and you are done!

After successfully enrolling, there is a short processing time, after which you’ll be contacted by Apple granting you access to the iTunes Connect portal.  It’s usually after this portal has been created that we see most app clients choosing to have their developer create the app entry, which effectively “reserves” the app name, assuming it’s not already in development by another developer.  A non-developer can still create their own app entry to reserve an app name.  Unfortunately, at this point in the process it does start to get significantly more complicated with things like certificate registrations, bundle IDs and environment set ups.  Just keep in mind, most app development firms are more than happy to help you complete this reservation process at little, or no cost.  After all, they hope to eventually work with you as a client to build your app!

Android Apps

So you have your name reserved with Apple.  Now what about Google …  Well, don’t shoot the messenger, because unfortunately you can’t really ‘lock up’ a name for an Android app! Google allows duplicate names. The good news from this; you don’t need to worry about reserving an app name early on Google Play, because you can’t!

Assuming you’ve gone through the name-search process we described in our last blog post, you’re all good, right?!

Well, not so fast!  Yes, the Play Store might technically allow a developer to submit an app with the exact same app name/title as one that already exists, as long as the app’s package name is different. Without digressing too far, the ‘package name’ is an ID parameter in the URL of the web page where your app resides on the Play Store.  It simply comes from a field you or your developer will enter in your Google Play Console. To find what the package name of any mobile app is on the Play Store, look at the url for the app.  The letters after the “=” sign are the app’s package name. (e.g., Airbnb’s package name in bold: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.airbnb.android&hl=en)

App name vs. package name. Is the difference really relevant to you at this stage?  Well, no, since the first question you should be asking yourself is, “Why would I want my app to have the same, or very similar, name as somebody else’s app in the Play Store?”

Having the same app name as someone else not only creates confusion for Play Store users trying to find the app they are searching for, but it probably sets up all sorts of copyright and trademark infringement issues too.  Moreover, buried in Google’s Developer Policy Center, it states, “We don’t allow apps that use another app or entity’s brand, title, logo, or name in a manner that may result in misleading users…”, which means your app has a high probability of getting rejected at some point after you have put a whole lot of design work into an app created around your decided-upon name.

Confusing or misleading name-issues aside, keep in mind that the app name/title is what will not only be one of the key factors (if not THE key factor) in your app store discoverability, but it’s also the first impression that a user has after seeing your app’s icon.  In other words, don’t take your app title lightly, and don’t name it something that can be easily confused with an existing app!

When you are ready to have your developer start on the Android app, you will most likely still want to set up a Google Developer account under your app name and your personal contact information; for all of the same reasons we discussed in setting up your Apple developer account.

To set up your Google developer account, you will have to pay a one-time $25 registration fee.

Go to the Google Play Developer Console and sign up for an account.  The process takes no more than 5 minutes, as Google lays out each step very clearly.  If you get stuck, or have any questions during the registration, most app development shops will gladly help you for free.

The bottom line with an Android app name; just make sure that the Apple Store app name that you secure is something you can also use on the Play Store, but which isn’t misleading relative to other existing apps.

Whatever you decide to name your iOS or Android app, it’s time to start making it a reality!

1 Comment

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