Archive for the ‘ App Store ’ Category

It’s Alive!

I have just submitted a new application to be reviewed for the App Store.

Yes. Believe it.

I’ll post more details when it actually gets approved. I’ve had this idea for a long time, but I figured that somebody else would come out with it before I did. At present time, NOBODY has done an app like this, which is very shocking to me. I think it’s perfect for the iPhone and the App Store.

It feels good to have completed another app, especially after so long. I forgot how much fun it could be!

The success (or lack thereof) of this app will probably directly contribute to how quickly I start my next project.

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Hi, this is Steve from Apple, calling from California…

Crazy thing happened yesterday.

I had a new voicemail on my iPhone from a phone number that I didn’t recognize. I load it up, press the speaker button, and listen.

“Hi, this is Steve from Apple, calling from California. We wanted to talk to you about one of your apps, so if you could call us back, that would be great.”

It sounds just like Jobs.

I listen to it again. And again. And again.

After about five listens, I determine that it’s probably not Jobs, but it sounds pretty similar to him. And his name is Steve. And he works for Apple.

So I call back. It turns out that one of my apps in the review queue, Gold (iMobilepedia), had an issue. They had called me because it was listed for the price of $99, and not 99 cents, and they wanted to know if this was a mistake.

Whoops.

I also had to double check, so I asked him “So uh… this isn’t Steve Jobs is it?” This was met with an outburst of laughter, and the confirmation that it was not Steve Jobs.

Well come on. You get a call out of the blue, from Steve, from Apple, in California, and it sounds pretty similar to Jobs!

Ah well.

I learned something very valuable from this call, as well as some previous experiences with the store. App name, App Description, and App Price all factor into the App Store review process. They don’t just review the actual binary, they review the whole package.

My Fix-a-Pixel app got rejected no less than 4 times, from them claiming that diagnostic tools were not allowed on the App Store. From previous posts, you’d know that there already ARE similar apps on the App Store, but I won’t get into that again. So I just renamed it to “Crazy Psychedelic Disco Squares!”, and changed the description to remove any pixel-fixing text. No change to the binary. Accepted.

I wish I knew if they reviewed and approved each change to App Name and App Description after the binary has been submitted. When you change either of these, it only takes a few hours to show up in iTunes. I had been assuming that they don’t review these at all, but I’m not really sure.

iMobilepedia is doing well. Single iMobilepedia apps are outselling Collage on a daily basis, which is discouraging.

I’m going to add a few more features to Collage (like a unique take on Bookmarks), and then put out a Lite version. Then I’ll shop it around, and send some promo codes around. I don’t want to do it yet, because its not feature complete. Version 1.0 and all.

What’s goin’ on Mekon?

Nothing super new to report.

My web browser app still hasn’t been approved yet. My first review took 8 days (a pretty reliable average for review time), and resulted in a rejection (a pretty reliable result for review). Their complaint was annoyingly small, but legitimate. I wasn’t doing any checking for a lack of network connection, which “could result in user confusion.” Fine. After a quick fix, a new binary was submitted on the same day that it was rejected.

Over two weeks later… still no word from Apple. I’ve emailed them asking for a status update, but emailing the App Review team is like yelling into the wind. I haven’t gotten the dreaded “your app will require additional review time”, so I guess that’s good. There just hasn’t been any feedback yet, at all.

The App Review process is still a thorn in my side, for all of the reasons I’ve already written about. I submitted a “stuck pixel” fixing application, which was rejected for some BS reason. They were essentially saying that they don’t allow that kind of application on the App Store, but of course, they ALREADY HAVE apps like that on the store. They’re basically telling me “no pixel fixer apps in the app store”, and there is a pixel fixer app in the store already. Of course, I emailed them to alert them of this contradiction, to no response.

You can imagine the frustration.

iMobilepedia sales have been relatively brisk lately, thanks largely to the new “Health & Human Body” series. I’ll be trying a bunch of different topics in the near future.

I have a few new ideas for legitimate apps that I could make, but I’m holding off for awhile.

I love developing for the iPhone OS. It’s great. It’s fun. I’m a fan. But the App Store review process is SO BAD, that it almost completely ruins the whole thing for me. That factor alone has single-handedly made me reconsider moving forward with any and all iPhone development in the future. It’s a shame that such a great development platform has distribution that is so uneven, subjective, shady, and possibly even corrupt.

It’s that bad.

The Dark Side

On the App Store, pride and success seem to be mutually exclusive.

The Wall Street Journal put up a great article today, talking about why crappy apps exist on the App Store. The answer is obvious: it’s because they sell. They sell well. Really well.

They interview an iPhone developer in the video, and he says “All of the crappy apps that I’m embarrassed about sell the most, but the good apps that I’m proud of don’t do as well.” This is the current overarching theme of the App Store. Quantity is overwhelmingly more successful than quality. Novelty rules over creativity. People want something that they can download, use once, laugh, and delete.

That’s kind of depressing.

As a developer, you want to create a product that you’re proud of. You want to tell all of your friends and family to go out and buy it. You want to show it off on job interviews. You want people all over the internet to blog about it, write about it on forums, and create YouTube videos about it.

Ideally, you would also want to make large sums of money off of it.

Time is a very valuable thing. When you give your time to iPhone development, you’re taking it away from something or somebody else. In order for that to be “worth it”, there needs to be a good return on the investment. You find yourself in a balancing act between the amount of time invested, and the money that it earns. The motivation quickly shifts from “making the best product possible”, to “making the best selling product possible, given the amount of time invested.

Welcome to the Dark Side.

You can’t please all the people all the time…

Review for DDR Compendium on the App Store:

Good app1 star
by Growlstreak
“This is a good app cause its free. However I dont recomend it if you dont have a real use for it.”

Limbo

This Apple I’ve been eating for the past few months is starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I hate Apple’s review process. I know I’m not alone, as many other people have posted similar sentiments all over the internet. But man. I hate Apple’s review process!

It’s the lack of consistency that kills me. Again, other people have said this ad infinitum, but it doesn’t really hit you until you experience it first hand.

“…we have determined that this application contains minimal user functionality and will not be appropriate for the App Store.”

This is the first crock. My first two app submissions were rejected with the above justification. I’ll admit that these applications were simple, although intentionally so by design. But that’s fine, I can understand if Apple thinks that they don’t do enough to justify their existence on the store. The problem is, since they’ve been rejected, I’ve seen NUMEROUS apps get approved that offer the exact same functionality. You’ve probably seen them too, apps that get approved that offer little-to-no functionality for the user to perform. So what’s the difference between the functionality of my rejected apps, and the identical functionality of the approved apps? Who knows. The reviewer’s affection for the content that is presented probably.

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

This is the second crock. I now have this status on multiple apps, none of which are extremely complex. One of my earlier apps has been in this status for almost 2 months now. I can understand if an app needs extra review time. If somebody submits a 50 hour RPG, then obviously that’s going to take longer to review than your standard fart app. But my applications that “need extra review” really don’t, they can be reviewed in minutes. When they say “your application needs unexpected additional time for review”, they’re really saying:

You’re application is in Limbo. Purgatory. It will never be approved for sale, nor will it ever be rejected. Your application doesn’t explicitly violate any of the rules that we have defined, but we don’t want to see it on the store, for one reason or another.

I’ve emailed Apple about my application that’s been in Limbo for 2 months, asking if I could offer anything that would expedite the review process. If I could answer any questions, make any changes, anything! Anything to get my app out of Purgatory. All I received back was a standard form letter, telling me to basically keep waiting. This app certainly doesn’t need two months of review.

Rejection I can handle, because you can theoretically identify and fix the problem. If one of your features doesn’t work, you can fix it and resubmit. If you have “minimal user functionality”, you can add some features and resubmit.

When you’re in Limbo, you can’t do anything. You lose all influence over your app eventually making it into the App Store. You have effectively just wasted your time.

Apple, come on. Either approve an app, or tell me what I have to fix to get it through. Establish some objective policies and guidelines, and follow them. If an app checks all of the boxes that you define, let it through. If it violates one, reject it, and let the author know what they can do to fix it.

~Stache