July 7, 2009

The Wrath of Apple?

A couple of weeks back, I came across a few apps on the Apple app store which had what I thought was a neat concept – a mini-app store, or rather, a list of applications provided by the same company. Since Apple had approved these apps and they were in the Apple app store, I figured that I might as well implement the feature in my own apps that I did from then on.

I was mindful of the fact that Apple has strict guidelines (sometimes unstated ones :p) and so didn’t want to infringe any of these. However, in this case I thought I might be on solid ground since there were several other apps on the app store which already implemented the feature. I was even careful enough to do things pretty similar to how it was done by these other apps so that I wouldn’t infringe upon some unstated guideline.

So imagine my surprise when I submitted my app and almost immediately received a rejection stating:

“Thank you for submitting WordOne and WordOneLite to the App Store. We’ve reviewed WordOne and WordOneLite and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because your applications contains pricing information in the binary and/or marketing text (Application Description / Release Notes). Providing specific pricing information in these locations may lead to user confusion because of pricing differences in countries. It would be appropriate to remove pricing information from these locations.”

Now I read elsewhere (later) that Apple indeed objects to pricing information being included in the app because they say that it will confuse users. And I can understand this. However, I had done that only because the other apps available on the app store already did this too. But I didn’t want to go through a protracted session of debating with Apple and so simply changed my application to remove the pricing information and resubmitted it.

However, I did want to know what the actual guidelines were. So I responded to Apple and asked them for a clarification on their guidelines because they already had apps on the app store which included pricing information (only in one currency mind you) in them and those had been approved. I even provided a few examples.

That might have been a mistake 😀

Because today I received not one but two responses from Apple. The first one was a reply to my question about clarifying the position on why my app was rejected while they approved other apps with pricing information. It simply said:

“Thank you for your email. Unfortunately we are unable to provide addition information at this time. Thank you for uploading a new binary. We will notify you if there are any further issues.”

So no information. Apple will do as Apple pleases. No surprises there 🙂 But the second e-mail, sent a few hours later was the dreaded, “Your application is meeting unexpected delays” one. Specifically, it said:

“Your application, WordOne and WordOneLite, are requiring unexpected additional time for review. We apologize for the delay, and will update you with further status as soon as we are able.”

Now I don’t know for a fact that my application was delayed because I questioned Apple about their decision. But on the other hand, the timing seems a little suspicious to me. I’ve never received an app review in any time longer than seven days before. Every time before, for about seven apps, I would get an update, regular as clockwork, on the seventh day. If it was rejected, and I fixed the issue, I wouldn’t hear back from Apple again till seven days had passed.

For my eight or ninth app, the delay went from seven days to nine days but that was around the height of WWDC and the release of OS 3.0. For these two specific apps, I got my first rejection in about four days and then the second notification about “unexpected delays” came three days or so after I questioned the process and right on the heels of their other response. So forgive me if I find the timing a little too pat 🙂

So what’ll happen to my app? I have no idea. I have heard of other developers who have had apps sit in the review queue for months without hearing anything back from Apple at all. Maybe that’s what’ll happen to WordOne and WordOne Lite. I don’t know. But I hope that this won’t be the case and the delay is genuine and my apps will see the light of day within the next week, especially given stupid release like this that Apple seems to let through without any thought at all. I can always hope, can’t I? 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 7:58 am  |  1 Comment