Getting Past the Protectors of the App Store

Getting past App Store gatekeepers

Ever done a great job at something and waited for weeks for any sort of feedback? Worse, ever created something and had it rejected for no intelligible reasons? Most of us have. Particularly, those who have had to submit mobile applications for review to the one intimidating entity that must be appeased – the Apple App Store reviewing team.

Although Apple has made its review guidelines and, more recently, reasons for rejection public, the entire app submission experience doesn’t stop there. According to Apple, the following snafus could keep your app from becoming one of the hallowed apps that make it through Apple App Store’s seemingly impenetrable gates.

  • Untested apps
  • Bad UI
  • Bad links
  • Unfinished apps – ones that use placeholder content or images
  • Inadequate information
  • Ads which are not functional
  • Multiple similar submissions
  • Inaccurate descriptions
  • Misleading promises
  • Lack of value

However, the reasons listed above aren’t the only reasons why some perfectly good apps get rejected. Developers around the world unite in the knowledge that they’ve all had their apps rejected in bizarre ways one time or the other.

Among the grievances that developers have, time taken to review apps is pretty much on the top of everyone’s list.  According to this website, iOS App store review times are 11 days on average with Mac App Store review times being 6 days. However, app approval waiting times have always been different from the promises made. According to this article, holiday seasons are particularly bad with wait times increasing to three weeks or more.

Apple’s extra strict approval process is seen as a discouraging roadblock by plenty of developers. The rules, sometimes, require developers to work around them to deliver the functionality that they originally had in mind. Then they might find that after a period of time, the approvals based on such worked around solutions are revoked because of updates in those policies. This leaves developers high and dry and in the long run creates an air of dissatisfaction among Apple’s customers. The policies that are meant to keep out malicious software then become the noose by which well-meaning apps are hanged.

Also for the sake of uniformity and integration across platforms, Apple has had a tendency to oversimplify applications, which ultimately doesn’t make sense for users’ specific needs.

Another issue that developers frequently face is with in-app purchases. Apple aims to be the preferred payment processor but the truth is that this becomes pesky since it can be used only to charge for virtual items.

There are also instances of Apple being so whimsical that it approved only 2 out of 12 submissions of an almost identical application which had very little differences. When faced with fixes required by customers, Apple acts as a middleman of complaint submission as well as approver of any changes. The changed code then requires two or three more weeks of approval, leaving customers and developers equally frustrated.

Approvals have also in the past been revoked leading to developers frantically trying to get the entire process started again. Another incentive for developers to resubmit is the fact that the latest apps get featured upfront resulting in a direct impact on sales. In other instances, discovery of one’s apps within the App Store is quite poor which makes Apple’s 30 per cent cut seem unfair.

Apple is known for ambiguity in feedback to developers who are waiting for their apps to be reviewed. Many of them report that while a database at itunesconnect.apple.com could state that the app has been rejected, an email to the developer might be vague and state that the reviewing process is taking longer than expected.

Other reasons why Apple makes developers feel strangulated include – UI inconsistent with Apple’s recommendations, graphics not approved by Apple, using Apple’s API without permission, objectionable content, copyright or trademark violations, duplication of pre-installed Apple software, requirement of more bandwidth than usual, attempts to challenge/change what is recommended by Apple. The list of course is never finite or well-defined. The conglomerate is infamous for taking things too far with its gatekeeping role with respect to the App Store.

In comparison, Google’s Play Store is much more relaxed. The app review time here is a few hours on an average. What’s more there aren’t frustrating restrictions that depress developers. All this freedom however comes at a price. Due to the seemingly lax review process, users are much more susceptible to malware and its associated problems. This article explains how  2 infected apps discovered in April 2013 were believed to have infected over 5 million devices in Europe and Russia.

Essentially, a developer is caught between the devil and the deep sea when it comes to submitting apps. For all its bouncer-like tendencies, Apple’s team of reviewers do a good job at keeping out malicious applications and adhering to the intended objectives for the App Store. However, considering all the heartache that one has to go through in order to have an application approved, the question then becomes – is it worth the trouble?

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