Monday, August 31, 2020

Allowing Bug Fixes and Challenging the Guidelines

Apple (also: Hacker News, 9to5Mac, MacRumors):

The App Store is dedicated to providing a great experience for everyone. To continue offering a safe place for users to download apps and helping you successfully develop apps that are secure, high-quality, reliable, and respectful of user privacy, we’ve updated the app review process as announced at WWDC20. 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. You’ll instead be able to address guideline violations in your next submission. And now, in addition to appealing decisions about whether an app violates guidelines, you can suggest changes to the guidelines.

Will Strafach:

guideline challenge successful! ✅

to @guardianiosapp users: Day Pass capabilities will indeed live on in our upcoming v2 update.

I am unsure when the text of the App Store Guidelines will be publicly updated on this matter, but keep an eye out.


I don’t know how the app review process goes internally, but it seems like they could not wrap their heads around a time-based purchase which did not use IAP’s subscription system’s built-in time intervals.

that was what we challenged.

Curtis Herbert:

I was rejected when I launched my day pass in 2016. Since I have the concept of recordings, I worked around by renaming to a “single pass” that unlocked a recording. Later moved to a bundle of single passes. Always called it day pass externally, but in app it was the single pass.

Paul Haddad:

Now that Apple is saying you can appeal guidelines rejections wonder if it’s time to try fighting the one that requires Pastebot’s paste service.

Jeff Johnson (tweet):

My update, which has a new feature but no bug fixes, is currently in limbo because the reviewer is getting mysterious proxy connection errors that no customer of mine has ever reported.

I saw another developer today say their app was “rejected” because the reviewer asked “How does the app utilize Touch Bar and where can we locate these features?”

This kind of crap happens all the time, and I don’t see anything in this announcement that will help.

This is apparently common.


Update (2020-09-11): Apple:

Bug Fix Submissions: 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. If your app has been rejected, and qualifies for this process, please use the Resolution Center to communicate directly with the App Review team indicating that you would like to take advantage of this process and plan to address the issue in your next submission.

So the bug fix won’t be immediately accepted, but hopefully the delay for this process won’t be too long.

Update (2020-09-14): Hobbyist Software describes how its update to fix a crashing bug was rejected because of an issue with a pre-existing app preview video. The app displays wallpapers across multiple monitors but isn’t allowed to show multiple monitors in the video. As there is no legal issue, the app should be eligible for the new bug fix policy, but App Review at first didn’t want to allow this. They finally agreed, and then it took an additional 68 hours before the bug fix was approved.

Update (2020-09-30): Jeremy Provost:

What Apple told developers on August 31st, 2020 was: “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.” This seems like a very clear statement. Get App Review on the phone and they’ll tell you a different story. According to them bug fixes are not allowed for “legal issues” (makes sense), “user safety issues” (we would whole-heartedly agree), but here’s the kicker, and anything else that App Review on a case-by-case basis decides not to allow as a bug fix update.

Update (2021-08-13): Peter Steinberger:

Apple App Store randomness: After 3 years of having @pdfviewerapp in the store, Apple now rejects it because they can’t figure out how to add an image to a PDF (which requires the camera entitlement).

How’s that process still so bad. A month ago it was another random entitlement.

So much for Apple not holding up random patch releases.

Tanner Bennett:

Apple: what if we just… lied? Tell everyone we won’t hold up their bug fixes anymore or something. We don’t have to actually do it

Mauro Vime:

I’ve also seen a trend of rejections around long-lasting features in patch releases rather than in minor/major ones.

Update (2022-01-17): Robin Kunde:

Apple’s App Store review is currently holding up a bug fix release because we didn’t include a video preview? Citing a guideline that doesn’t mention videos at all?

Actually, they want a demo specifically for the reviewer because apparently the app is too complicated?

Update (2022-01-19): Robin Kunde:

Follow up to the bug fix release: I asked about the accommodation, got a vague reply along the lines of “that’s a policy we have, yes”, resubmitted, and got rejected again for the same reason. Ended up having to delay the release to make that video.

Update (2022-05-31): Jeff Johnson:

My Mac App Store update spent 3.5 hours In Review and is now Pending Developer Release. My identical iOS App Store update has been In Review over 44 hours and counting.


Third, Apple claimed that they wouldn’t hold up bug fixes for unrelated issues[…]


This claim does not appear to be true. I’ve heard from a number of other developers who have said that their bug fix updates still get held up over other issues.

Unfortunately, I think Apple only meant it wouldn’t reject bug fix updates for unrelated issues. I and others have had bug fix updates stuck “in review” for over a month.

Update (2022-06-06): Trystan Kosmynka (tweet):

The bug fix submission process is very real. When the app update is submitted it goes through the regular review. In the event a reviewer finds an issue with the app, they will notify the developer. The top of that message indicates that if the issue is with a feature that is already live in the app the developer can elect to have the app processed and resolve the issue on a future submission.

With so many conflicting reports, it’s not clear to me that this is actually the case.

Jeff Johnson:

As I mentioned last week, “there’s actually no way for a developer to contact the reviewer while the app is In Review.” My bug fix release was delayed for days with no explanation whatsoever. Furthermore, Apple’s process still delays bug fix updates even if “the developer does choose to have the app approved and resolve on a future submission.” This is because the approval process is interrupted when App Review flags an issue with a preexisting feature in the app.

Update (2024-03-20): Marcin Krzyzanowski:

remember when apple promised to not reject bugfix updates to the AppStore? oh


The other day Apple said I had to fix my bugfix update (they could see the crash stats) bc screenshots from a year ago had the word “free” in one of them. Said I could reply and ask for approval if I wanted to remove the word after hotfixing. They ignored my reply.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

You never know what the App Store review process will yield, nor how long it will take. The unpredictability is obviously a big problem in itself, leaving aside all the thorny questions about Apple's control and a level playing field.

Just like Jeff, App Store review also asked me about Touch Bar features in my app and where to find them. Uh, maybe in the Touch Bar? The reviewer actually requested a video of the Touch Bar which was super weird– nothing to do but shrug and comply. That's a really small speed bump compared to what other apps have suffered.

This is what happens when you have “500 experts all over the world” in “content curation” and little else.

App Review are glorified tech bloggers, not developers, not fraud specialists, it’s just so painfully obvious by now. “Send me a video of where the Touch Bar is” ad nauseum.

Old Apple would’ve been ashamed of this. Old Apple was genuinely helpful.

New Tim Apple seems to have no shame whatsoever.

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