Wednesday, June 24, 2020

New App Store Review Processes

Apple (also: MacRumors):

Additionally, two changes are coming to the app review process and will be implemented this summer. First, developers will not only be able to appeal decisions about whether an app violates a given guideline of the App Store Review Guidelines, but will also have a mechanism to challenge the guideline itself. Second, for apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes will no longer be delayed over guideline violations except for those related to legal issues. Developers will instead be able to address the issue in their next submission.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

This is pretty significant. Apple will no longer ransom your bug fixes, and there’s a new process coming for challenging the guidelines themselves. This is of course still Apple policing Apple, but it’s an opening none the less for all developers ✌️

Peter N Lewis:

I somehow doubt I can challenge the requirement to be sandboxed which excludes Keyboard Maestro from the Mac App Store.

Josh Avant:

But…. how will Apple reliably enforce that an update is only ‘bug fixes’? What are ‘bug fixes’?

Challenging a guideline itself is interesting but how much does it really matter when Apple is the judge, jury, and executioner?

John Gruber:

Both of these changes sound great[…] but let’s see how it works in practice. If this is more than just lip service, wow, that’s huge.


Update (2020-08-03): Allen Pike:

While it’s great that Apple is open to these rules being challenged, it seems that the things most worth reconsidering about App Review aren’t even part of the public guidelines. Will Hey be able to challenge the secret rule that says they need to follow the IAP guideline, but that Slack doesn’t? What about the policy that iOS apps can’t be distributed directly to customers? Or Apple’s habit of quietly changing the undocumented approval policies, without notifying people that apps that used to be approved will now be rejected?

Max Seelemann:

Aaaaand App Review is running another shit show with shady arguments keeping our bugfix release in limbo for no sane reason.

This refuted wording has been approved dozens of times, and it has been at the exact same hour on the other platform.

You can’t make that up…

Max Seelemann:

I can confirm the new handling of non-legal rejections works. Our previously rejected update has now been approved and we got two weeks to address the issue.

Zach Bruhnke:

Legit feel like I am living @dhh’s life right now! @Apple just rejected an update of our app because it had a signup link leading to our site. Removed,rejected! It’s a free bank account but the app is only for customers, it has a bugfix for updating PINS for our customers ... wtf

Ryan Jones:

Wouldn’t be a launch day with an App Store rejection for something that's been there for 2 years and is actually following the rules. 🤣


The latest Prompt update was rejected because our icon, despite being the same for 9 years, was “identical to the icons of other apps” (?) and “spam”.

Kosta Eleftheriou:

So Apple, please help us see App Review as a reliable ally. Let us access our past communications with you - including phone call records if we choose to. Show us that you want to be accountable for what you communicate to developers. There may be some legal challenges, but transparency is a prerequisite to accountability. It’s only then that we can begin to have a fair and honest discussion with you about the actual process and guidelines. Because until then, we’re in the shadows.

Update (2020-08-24): Tim Windsor Brown:

The rep also mentioned that the bug fix mitigation will only come into effect after iOS 14 arrives.

Why tie such a sensible policy change to an OS update?


Update (2020-08-25): Andrey Butov:

Apple absolutely does hold bug-fix updates hostage. I’m sitting on a client app right now where they refused to let through a bug-fix update, on an already-approved app, until we put in IAP.

Update (2020-08-27): Peter Steinberger:

“We even appealed the guideline under the new app review process announced at WWDC,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “We did not receive a response.”

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

This is all meh, Apple needs to stop being an arbiter of their own shallow culture and politics first and all else second. But no, aside from the fact that they can’t fix their own bugs in Crapalina and their dev cycles are “too fast,” they’re holding bugs in their store?

Shipping with and not fixing data loss bugs is a mortal sin. SITTING ON BUGS or “ransoming bug fixes” equally so.

Apple should focus exclusively on user privacy, security and quality.. Anything outside that lowers trust and expectations. How are they different from “old Microsoft” then?

Apple needs to get back to an Apple where the personal computer was still *personal* and not a vanity trip/consumption device for banal Apple TV shows and the CEO.

And are they going to ship without data loss bugs this time?

> How are they different from “old Microsoft” then?

They're not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As far as I can tell, once a tech company achieves sufficient size and control of the market, they inevitably abandon innovation in favor of doing anything they possibly can to secure as close to a monopoly as possible. The only reason "old Microsoft" isn't alive and well in "new Microsoft" is that the company got slapped down by government regulations and out-competed by scrappy up-and-comers like Apple, Google, and Facebook who successfully invented markets that Microsoft hadn't seen coming. Now that Apple has market dominance in a lot of the places that matter most, Microsoft has had to fall back on innovating and taking creative approaches to securing market (formerly what Apple was doing).

I highly doubt I'll like Apple very much again until someone successfully invents something that disrupts the markets they're currently dominating, because that's likely the only thing that will force them to rediscover their roots and start caring about consumers again.

Or a big old government slap-down, maybe, but that seems unlikely in the short term (at least domestically in the US).

"Think different" provides a pretty hefty dose of irony along with it these days, sadly.

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