The App Store Review’s Roller Coaster of Emotion

Since beginning the app dev process, the mystique behind submitting to Apple’s App Store was both alluring and terrifying. How can a software review be so subjective? Is it subjective? Answers to that question are even unclear. Forum after thread after developer complained of the cryptic process to get your stuff seen.

Tough, but warranted? After all, people put a mental premium on apps in Apple’s store since the rules are tougher, and quality is therefore higher for all apps. You won’t see (too many) copycats, crashing apps, bugs, false advertising, etc. that you hear can plague other stores like the stores run by Google or Microsoft. In money-speak, the average iOS App will bring in more revenue than the average Android App – check out the neat infographic below (from 9to5mac.com):

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The gateway / differentiator lies with Apple’s review team.

I submitted Blobo for review on Sunday March 8th, and promptly google’d app review timelines. I saw results anywhere from 2 to 14 days…

Emotional me went from pretty excited to, well, not knowing what to do with myself. I think I learned how to meditate in that moment of calming myself down.

Silence from the review team. Monday flies by with the app “Waiting for review…”. In other words, not touched yet.

Tuesday comes, and that evening, the app switches to “In Review.” Woo! Excitement returns. Until I get an email from iTunes Connect (Apple’s developer platform) saying simply –

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Looking at the “Resolution Center” (sounds a bit Orwellian, doesn’t it?) –

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I have a brief heart palpitation upon reading this. There’s a well-documented process where you have to submit your In-App Purchase before submitting your app. Did I not do this? Panic sets in as I google every possible meaning of this message, of course taking to heart the worst case scenarios where I have to start all over (I know, not so bad, but I just want to get the game out!).

The message is clearly saying that they just can’t find the button, but I was too stubborn to simply 100% believe that. Half sure of what was going on, I quickly type out my response, add some friendlier language, attach a cluster of screenshots that I think might help them find the button (for those who haven’t played Blobo, you must die before you can see the purchase option). Message and frenzied screenshots below (note my added emphases, also frenzied) –

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Whatever I said worked. After a night of doing nothing because I felt defeated, I checked Wednesday morning and it was back “In Review”. Nice!

Later Wednesday morning, I see that they sent another message. It must be congratulating me on my thoroughness of answering that last request!

Nope. Blobo was fully rejected. Not conditionally like last time. The message came with the instructions of fully fixing the issue and re-uploading the app.

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Noooooo!!!

Frantically I open the screenshot they sent of the issue…

And it looks completely fine. There was some kind of miscommunication, or I didn’t explain fully in the review notes of what the game should look like. Their screenshot below –

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The scene is admittedly stretched on the x-dimension since this is an iPad not an iPhone, but I fully knew that going in. Those level cards in the middle are also on a sliding view, so they shouldn’t be centered.

For some context – iPad cropping was a very real issue (as my oldest brother can attest, as he was the one investigating over and over whether it was fixed). So seeing this non-messed-up screenshot pop up was a huge relief. But that left the question… what actually is wrong here?

I misunderstand things often, and I’m sure the language they use can sometimes be misinterpreted. My reply message and screenshot attached below. I’ll admit I was feeling a little bit heated but didn’t want that to show in the message –

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Sent it off. Just 15 minutes later –

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Yeeaaahhhhh!!!! Whatever that whole journey was ended up in an acceptance, so I am happy and content.

Reflecting back, it was a good experience that showed I need to be MUCH more explicit in the materials I send them / my review notes. What I feared to be an experience that would end me turned out to be quite pleasant, even if a roller coaster of emotion.

Shout out to Apple for making this relatively painless. My messages to them were clearly read and understood, with no blind citation of strict guidelines / ambiguous behavior / unhelpful feedback. I really appreciated the utility of the exchange we had.

With that said, Blobo is now pending release. I’ll release it this coming Friday, March 10th!!

 

As always, thanks for reading. Talk to you soon!

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