Users unable to redeem codes before apps are released to the public.

As a website that focuses on news and reviews, we sometimes cover apps that are pre-release and not available to the public yet. Developers will contact us and ask us to review their apps before they are ‘live’ in the App Store. Usually, they can send out promo codes to reviewers to get their opinions before the app is released, but the past two weeks, it seems that the App Store is not allowing these codes to be redeemed.

Apps that are “Pending Development Release” in the App Store are being affected by this bug. Developers can create promo codes with no problems, but when a user goes to redeem one, they are met with a connection error – “Error connecting to Store”. Basically, the codes are good, but the backend of the App Store is preventing a connection in some way. There are a couple of potential temporary fixes for this issue until Apple officially provides a solution.

Flip the Switch  
Apps go through a series of states before they are released for sale to the public. Pending Development Release is one of those states. While your app is in that state, you can create promo codes, but this bug in the App Store will prevent them from being used. So, one solution is to ‘flip the switch’ or change your app state to Release This Version. While this can be a very scary option for some developers, while an app is in this particular state, it won’t be public until the date you set for it in Pricing and Availability.

Limited Region Release
Again this is a scary proposition, but you can release the app for sale in a very small region and the promo codes are said to work at that point. Templar Battleforce developers Trese Brothers were offered this solution by Apple Developer Support.

“On the day we were set to pre-launch Templar Battleforce on iOS, we discovered a bug in iTunes Connect that prevents developers from issuing promo codes so that the press could play our game ahead of launch. The only workaround Apple Developer support could offer was to put the game on sale in a small country so that the promo codes could be redeemed. Understandably, any launch before the official date is far from ideal,” Cory Trese, Co-Founder, Trese Brothers Games.

Apparently, because it’s available somewhere, the App Store sees it as no longer Pending Development Release and your promo codes will work. Some developers report using Albania as a country of choice.

The bug has been reported to Apple Support and even though it’s ‘on their radar,’ developers are having to go through this work around in order to get feedback for their apps from reviewers and other users.

We did contact Apple’s PR for comment, but had not heard back from them by the time this article was published. We will post updates as they become available.