Monday, December 9, 2019

The Information’s App Store Ordeal

Jessica Lessin (tweet):

The last two weeks have been a crash course in Apple’s gatekeeper status over consumers’ digital lives. Apple rejected our app four times. Some of the pushback we received was so specific—such as not being allowed to underline the words “free trial”—I was stunned. Other requirements seemed arbitrary, such as the rule that we couldn’t require users to enter their email (while Disney and the New York Times could).


The copy we submitted read “Annual + 7 day free trial, $29.99.” The reviewer told us it wasn’t clear that you would be billed after 7 days.


If we wanted to launch, we had to disable a part of the app that allowed Tech Top 10 users to preview The Information articles and subscribe to read them.


Next, our app reviewer had also determined that some of the news briefs in the app were available for free on our website, which wasn’t allowed.


This time their objections related to our About Page, among other things. It couldn’t mention our website because our website is a link and that link might eventually take someone to a page where they could subscribe to The Information (similar to the article issue).


Our Android app launched Wednesday as well. All that took was a push of the button and a short waiting period. But so far, 86% of our usage is coming from iPhones.

Ryan Jones:

You didn’t hit on the fact that they revealed rejection issues 1-by-1, wasting days and days, instead of listing multiple issues at once.

The issue you’ll see - all their rules exist for a defensible reason, but in aggregate, it’s maddening. Rock and a hard place.


3 Comments RSS · Twitter

"Next, our app reviewer had also determined that some of the news briefs in the app were available for free on our website, which wasn’t allowed."

Like how a lot of content that's behind the Apple News+ paywall is available for free on the publishers' websites?

WTF. One set of rules for Apple, another set for everyone else.

I had a much less fraught, but similar experience when we released our web radio app. It was rejected because I hadn't demonstrated that I had the permission of the artists to show their album cover (which I was using the iTunes API to show). Later research seemed to indicate that the iTunes API was approved for this, regardless of whether the artist had specifically given us permission. Since this was unclear, I wrote to the App Store help address to ask for a yes or no clarification. I was told that they wouldn't tell me, but I could send in a version of the app that used it and then they would tell me (by rejecting it or not). Frustrating – you *know* they know the answer, they're just refusing to tell me.

[…] outside of iOS apps — a prohibition that ]extends to website materials linked from within an app]ti — and things begin to look ridiculous. Amazon finds itself in a situation where it can sell […]

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