Off Topic: Getting on the App Store

Folks, this may be a bit off topic for iPeng, but since it’s experience I gathered developing this it might just be of interest for you as well. Take it as a read while waiting for an update to come out 🙂

There are quite a few bad tempered comments on Apple’s review process for the App Store and I agree I did have my share of getting angry, too. But I whenever I calm down a bit I tend to see it not that bad and – most importantly – I believe I somewhat understand what’s happening. Maybe this is of value for others, too. So this blog entry is mainly for those who want to develop for the App Store.

I tried to look at this from Apple’s perspective to understand it a bit more and that offered some eye-openers.

What I’ve Seen

Just some sampled facts upfront:

  • I got some rejections due to the fact that the tester obviously did not understand the product or the test environment, even though some of these aspects were written out clearly in the product description. The most prominent case being a rejection due to “Your App doesn’t have the features given in the product description: no tune can be heard on iPhone”. Well, yes. Indeed. It’s a remote control application, it’s not supposed to play tunes. Sentence #1 of the product description says so.
  • The sooner iPeng got reviewed, the better the success rate. Generally, my experiences with the duration of the review process are much, much better than what you read on the internet. I never waited for a review for more than 7 days! The longest lag I had was when I got a rejection but the actual state was not changed from “in review” to “rejected”. For rejections that came in early (the quickest one I did get was after only one day) were generally more qualified and sometimes even contained detailed suggestions on how to fix things.
  • Yes, they DO even work on weekends!
  • I did have rejections before on grounds that I did not accept as valid. I generally felt that answering to these aspects in the submission comments did help, obviously my comment were heard.
  • I only had one release (the ill-fated 1.0.3) that came through on the first try.
  • I did only get very few answers to e-mails I sent. I do believe they got read and I do believe the information I gave was used in the review process but usually I didn’t get an answer.

How Should You Sumbit?

Now what do I conclude from that? And how can this be of help for you to get to the App Store?

  1. Time matters. There are obviously times when there are more submissions and times when there are less. It looks like Apple tries to make sure you don’t have to wait for more than a week. This can of course put a lot of pressure on the testers in busy times and I suspect that under these circumstances in case of doubt they don’t try to find out what’s wrong but put that burden on you and reject. Especially if it’s the first try for a release.
  2. Explanations matter. Apple must have more than one tester. Don’t expect the one that gets your submission to know your App. I have made very good experience with giving details on how to expect the App to behave in the submission comments. The same is true for answers to the reasons for rejection. Explain why your App is just behaving fine.
  3. Explanations matter. We had that? OK, just again because it’s so important. Don’t even expect full attention for your App, I don’t know if that’s the case but I believe Apps get tested in parallel. Don’t expect the product description to be remembered in full.
  4. Calm down. This is the most difficult (at least for me) but also the most important part of the story. A rejection is not the end of the world, you can resubmit. Do a new build. If you can, fix what they objected to even if you don’t see it the same way (who wants to argue), write a nice and well-tempered e-mail in response to the rejection and – most important! – follow steps 2 and 3.

“Please, Apple, add a feedback loop!”

Now, that doesn’t mean the process is perfect. And just in case somebody from Apple ever reads this (and hasn’t become completely angry on me writing this), here’s what I’m missing from the process: A feedback loop. It would just be sooo helpful (and if just for peace of mind) to be able to answer to feedback. And not always have to resubmit and wait another week. Some process that let’s you answer to the very tester who did the first review and make him or her have another look at it with your feedback in mind. Probably even before rejecting.

Yours sincerely 🙂

About Author: coolio