Apple’s App Review Fix Fails to Placate Developers
Creators say projects still get blocked for no good reason
In January, Jake Nelson, a London-based developer, submitted a routine update to his popular new iPhone word game to Apple's App Store for review, adding support for a slate of new languages. This wasn't his first app, but he was unprepared for what followed: It took a month of frustrating discussion with Apple's App Store reviewers and 15 revisions to his code—made more or less at random—before his update was mysteriously approved.
Nelson never learned exactly why his app was first rejected or later accepted. An appeal mechanism Apple introduced in 2020 after bad press about its control of the App Store did not help. Revenue from his game had been about $1,000 a month but dwindled during the weeks he couldn't keep users engaged with new updates, and he contemplated no longer selling iOS apps for a living. "I felt as if it was an unending, completely opaque process," he said.
Nelson is not alone among app developers. The App Store, an engine of the iPhone’s success, has long triggered complaints from app makers who say Apple skews its marketplace too much in its own favor—making it hard for independent developers to survive, penalizing competitors and blocking novel ideas from reaching iPhone owners.
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