Developers Review Apple’s App Review Process

Graham Spencer of MacStories interviewed a bunch of developers about Apple’s handling of the review process for the App Store:

Inconsistency from App Review was another major recurring theme in the survey responses. Numerous developers gave examples where App Review had approved an update containing new features, only to reject a subsequent update for those features which had previously been approved. The most frustrating of those examples were when the update was a bug fix – meaning the developer, trying to quickly resolve an issue for their users, would now have to take more time either modifying their app to comply or appeal the decision (which may not succeed).

One such example was when a small bug fix led to App Review rejecting an app because it required registration. But the app, which had been on the App Store for five years, had always required registration and all of their competitors did the same thing. In the end the app was approved, but it took about a month of appeals and several phone calls to Apple from the developer.

This article is big — it’s available as an e-book, no less — but it’s worth your time. There’s a lot of important stuff covered in it, as you might imagine.

But I’ve chosen the excerpt above because I see it — as a layperson — as the most pressing issue facing the app review process. Nearly all of the incidents I’ve covered here and most that I’ve seen elsewhere concern discrepancies in how rejections or admissions are handled on a case-by-case basis. There is little more frustrating for developers than an update being rejected for inconsistent reasons after investing time and effort into building new features, or revising their app to compete with others. It needs be absolutely clear to both reviewers and developers under what conditions an app will be rejected.