back to article Apple 'fesses up: Rejected from the App Store, dev? THIS is why

Apple has finally confessed to the reasons why developers' iOS apps are failing to appear in its vaunted App Store. On a new site, Common App Rejections here, Apple has begun listing on a week-by-week basis the reasons behind the rejections being issued from Cupertino. It has also provided a list of tips and advice that …

  1. Buzzword

    An example to follow

    If only other app stores were as selective!

    1. h3

      Re: An example to follow

      Problem is that criteria means apps designed to be used with as little timewasting as possible by somebody who has learnt how to use it are not allowed.

      But worthless apps that look right and waste enough time in the process are allowed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: An example to follow

      Apps that exhibit bugs will be rejected

      *cough* Apple maps *cough*

      If your app doesn't offer much functionality or content, or only applies to a small niche market, it may not be approved.

      Fart apps and torches clearly are the way forward then.

      1. AbelSoul

        Re: Apps that exhibit bugs will be rejected

        Their vetting process is inconsistent and apparently arbitrary.

        I had an app accepted with a bug that meant it required an immediate update just to be usable.

        I also had version 1.0.0 of an app, made for a specific company (and dripping in that company's livery), accepted to the general app store. Six weeks later, version 1.0.1, which looked identical but had slightly improved functionality was rejected because it was for a specific company. It was subsequently accepted in the business to business app store, whilst version 1.0.0 was still on the general app store.

        I stopped working on iOS apps in February but for the year and a half that I did it there was a catalogue of such inconsistencies. Not a lot the developer can do other than submit, accept any reasons for rejection and fix them, even if they didn't matter last time and probably won't matter next time.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: An example to follow

      "If only other app stores were as selective!"

      Yeah, we'd miss out on the following:

      * Alternative browsers - as in proper browsers with their own web engines

      * Alternative dialers, keyboards, launchers

      * Emulators for consoles, old computers, arcade boxes etc.

      * Shells and root tools

      * Firmware flashing & management software

      * Software that uses a programmable runtime of any kind

      * Betas / alphas of interesting software

      * Applications with their own payment models / infrastructure

      * File managers

      * P2P clients

      * Bitcoin wallets

      * Anything remotely sexually suggestive (except for when it's okay)

      * Anything critical of public figures (except for when its okay)

      * (For developers) a release turnaround measuring in minutes instead of days

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: An example to follow

        >Yeah, we'd miss out on the following:

        Heretic, stone the unbeliever !

        (stones with rounded corners obviously)

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: An example to follow

        I have most of those classes of apps on my Android phone(s). And all bought through other than google play.

        And yet again to those who ask why I hate Apple, this is why.

    4. sisk Silver badge

      Re: An example to follow

      If only other app stores were as selective!

      I think the word you're looking for is 'restrictive'. In other app stores, particularly the Play store, the good apps are chosen by the market, as it should be, and float to the top of the search results. Bad apps may get into the store, but they sink to the bottom of the results. That is, in my opinion, a much better way of selecting the best apps than ensuring that the market never gets to see some of the apps.

      1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

        Re: An example to follow

        In other app stores, particularly the Play store, the good apps are chosen by the market, as it should be, and float to the top of the search results. Bad apps may get into the store, but they sink to the bottom of the results.

        Really? I despair every time I try to find a useful app on the Play store.

        As far as I can tell the ratings are useless - half of the reviews are obvious astro-turf - I mean REAL obvious, written by the developer obvious - and the other half are useless one line "Hate it" trashes that don't tell me anything useful.

        Then there was the review that read "The app is still downloading to my phone, but it's really amazing!"

        I'd guess that 60% of what's on the Play store is utter crap, and thirty percent is overpriced or lacking significant features. The great challenge is that it's pretty much impossible to tell which is which without actually downloading and installing the damned thing.

        Somewhere in all of this there's got to be a way to make money with a site that has actual live human beings testing out apps, or at least reading and approving reviews.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: An example to follow

          Your forgot the 95% of apps on Play that ask to too many permissions for no good reason.

          For instance it took me 4 attempts from the first page of torch app hits to find one that didn't want to slurp my contacts or monitor the phone dialer.

          Apple may be control freaky but by luck or design that freakery tends towards far more consumer protection than Google's laissez-faire approach. If it inconveniences the El Reg elites (who are not representative consumers) or developers - tough.

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: An example to follow

            "Your forgot the 95% of apps on Play that ask to too many permissions for no good reason."

            Personally I think Android's permission system is a joke - upfront, broad and irrevocable permissions are a bad idea but I don't see that has much to do with "curation" so much as Android's half assed security model.

            Personally I think the Play store should put extra weight on apps which ask for extra and unusual permissions compared to their peers so they sink faster unless their ratings keep them afloat. I also think that Android should allow particular permissions (contacts, gps and telephony stuff in particular) to be revocable at the install dialog and after installation regardless of what the app says it needs.

    5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: An example to follow

      OK, I'll redesign the interface to make my fart app acceptable.

      I do so love not using Apple products.

      1. ragge

        Re: An example to follow

        Yeah, that is exactly what the review system is all about. You really have got it.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An example to follow

      And yet the Apcoa Connect app, an app so execrably bad it can only have been written by Lottie Dexter, is still on the App Store. Explain that, Apple.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An example to follow

      > If only other app stores were as selective!

      Are you a trolling or serious - why should any store police itself ??? What is the rating system for ?? Do the bookstores reject a work of fiction because the font is too small ? The free market will decide what they want to do with the app and a bad app will go out of circulation in a natural manner. Nobody needs to play god. This whole heavy handedness suggests that app store thinks they know better than the customers.

      But maybe they are right - their customers are usually sooo dumb that they need helicopter parenting. That's what you get when you choose looks over true innovation.

  2. Semtex451 Silver badge

    WTF

    A spoonful of transparency, from Apple?

    The end is nigh

    1. Mike Bell

      Re: WTF

      Actually, the developer guidelines are extremely transparent and comprehensive. Probably always have been.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: WTF

      But its only transparent if they tell you why your app has been rejected.

      If they just reject it....well I think that's just stupid. If they're going to reject it for a limited set of reasons, why can't they make the rejection picker multple-choice?

      1. ragge

        Re: WTF

        Of course they tell you why the app was rejected!

  3. Otto is a bear.

    Sounds reasonable to me.

    I suspect you would get the same metrics when applied to any other development environment as well, though it would be interesting to know how many developers try again, and how many times they do before they are accepted.

    Apart from the obvious, experience and attention to detail are the best traits to develop when developing software.

    I wonder how it would have worked out if they had taken Microsoft's approach.

  4. Timfy67

    Quality Over Quantity

    I would happily settle for an app store that contained just a few hundred high quality and useful downloads than a million fart generators, crash magnets and blatantly falsely advertised crap... irrespective of platform.

    1. petur

      Re: Quality Over Quantity

      Or an app store where you can exclude app categories via a filter (like games,...). Are you listening Google?

      1. dotdavid

        Re: Quality Over Quantity

        Certainly being able to filter out the "free" (in-app-purchases) apps would be nice.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Quality Over Quantity

          Can't agree more - I'd love to be able to filter and search, intentionally excluding particular criteria or "required" permissions.

          Pretty ridiculous when the vendor is the leading search engine, but even with that, excluding matching entries isn't always easy.

    2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      Re: Quality Over Quantity

      > I would happily settle for an app store that contained just a few

      > hundred high quality and useful

      Do you mean as a consumer or as a developer?

      As a developer, the danger of such an environment is that you might create something good, but not quite good enough to reach this "top 100". So you don't take the risk, and code for iOS and Android instead. As a result, consumers don't get the apps that they wanted.

    3. Arbiter

      Re: Quality Over Quantity

      If you want to split the difference and have basic quality control (rejection of crash magnets, checking for absence of malicious behaviour and conformance to UI design guidelines) and a genuinely free market with fairly good signal to noise ratio in the reviews then I suggest a Windows Phone. While I am picky in my choice of apps and have less than a dozen installed, I don't think I've seen an app crash in the last six months. My partner switched to WP based on her experience with mine, and you'd need an oyster knife to make her let go of it. Our kids (in their 30s) have Android phones that are perpetually failing in one way or another. Every now and then I consider developing for Android but the tools are so poor and the platform so fragmented that I just can't be bothered.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    FAIL

    nice article shame about the prose

    Apple has finally copping to the reasons why developers' iOS apps are failing to appear in its vaunted App Store.

    'has finally'?

    1. Arbiter

      Number agreement

      "Has finally" is correct. Apple as a company is a singular entity. It's one company. Number agreement in English therefore requires has rather than have, which is paired with plurals. "Manchester United have scored again" is grammatically incorrect, always has been incorrect and will continue to be grammatically incorrect no matter how many sports announcers say it. The company has, we at the company have. The government has raised taxes, those greedy pigs have raised taxes. This is basic grammar. Learn it.

      I know I'm being a grammar Nazi, but you deserve it.

  6. Saint Gerbil

    100 more flappy birds on the way

    While most of the reasons are fair enough, I thought this one was odd at best and discriminatory at worse

    "applies to a small niche market, it may not be approved"

    So what if I make a "Welsh Moris Dancers" app it gets rejected since its not generic enough. I wouldn't expect it to get anywhere near the top of the app store but rejected on entry is quite bad. Unlike other platforms I have no way to get in my idevice. At least Windows Phone have the developer unlock application and Android has the "Allow untrusted apps" checkbox.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 100 more flappy birds on the way

      perhaps if you spelled morris correctly it might get in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 100 more flappy birds on the way

        Moris would probably be OK in Welsh (or maybe more likely Morys?) They'd probably capitalise the name and the beginning of the sentence too.

    2. DNTP

      Re: 100 more flappy birds on the way

      "what if I make a "Welsh Moris Dancers" app"

      Then you should be locked up somewhere for the good of society until you are willing to change for the better.

    3. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: 100 more flappy birds on the way

      That is a worry to me as well; I run a website, which has a selective membership based on specific criteria (ie, many of those who apply to join are rejected), totalling around 3200 worldwide.

      We have an Android app, because we didn't have to jump through hoops, and we don't put it on the Play Store, because then we'd be forced to go along with Google's bizarre moral guidelines, not to mention the inevitable one star reviews from people who downloaded the app without realising they had to apply for membership, or had been rejected.

      I'd more or less resigned myself to having to strip out some functionality for an iOS version (though they seem a little less prudish on some fronts than Google, in fact). But this could be the thing that knocks the idea of an iOS app on the head - why should I spend hours coding something, only for Apple to tell me that users of our web site don't constitute a big enough market, and so don't deserve an app?

      The same would apply to one of the clients for whom I run a website, which has lots of information for their profession, including legal info, conference transcripts, and so on. I could make a good case to them for an app to distribute to their members - but with a membership of only 800, I expect they too might be told it's too small a niche.

      Of course, I could be wrong - but without a little more clarity on what exactly consitutes a "small niche market" it's hard to justify spending time on a project that might never see the light of day. Better to concentrate our limited dev time on an HTML5 version.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I find the iOS interface hideous and stupid. Does that mean they are forcing all of their apps to be equally annoying to use? Way to support innovation Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You do realize that the iOS interface specification was on the first set of 10-Commandments tablets - the ones that Moses destroyed? It is holy and above mortal reproach, and <Deity> realized humans weren't ready for such a thing. It wasn't until His Holiness, St. Jobs, came along that <Deity> relented and gave us another copy.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        "I bring you these 15...<crash>...10 Commandments!"

      2. John Tserkezis

        "You do realize that the iOS interface specification was on the first set of 10-Commandments tablets"

        I thought he brought forth 15 commandments in the form of three tablets, and dropped the first one. I'm pretty sure that "Thou shalt not create a farting app" was on that first tablet.

  8. Vince

    A rule for you, doesn't apply to us...

    "Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought-through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected."

    Seriously? I assume the more recent iOS updates weren't subject to that "high bar" because word is the user interface is "less than very good" and certainly has many failings under "refined" and "well thought-through".

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: A rule for you, doesn't apply to us...

      iTunes? Don't talk to me about iTunes.

  9. Stretch

    "Apple sets a high bar."

    Oh my. Everyone in the office turned to stare at me after I burst out laughing.

  10. sisk Silver badge

    If your user interface is ... less than very good, it may be rejected.

    Based on some of the apps I've seen in the app store Apple must have a far different idea of what makes a good interface than I do. Some of the UI sins I've seen in the app store would have my boss telling me to scrap it and start over if I committed them them.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Try using many apps when you've spent years as a UI (UX) specialist... it's hard to not apply work to usage.

      Very similar to how after a few years of assessing lip-sync in video playback on custom hardware and encoding schemes has left me unable to cringe when I spot lip-sync issues in broadcast media. Gits.

    2. ragge

      Yes. The reviewers accept pretty much, and you must do pretty bad things to be rejected. I guess that most of the time, those that do get rejected actually really should put some more work on it.

  11. Greg J Preece

    "Five per cent, meanwhile, stumbled by including irrelevant Android names, descriptions or screenshots in their application submissions."

    Fixed that for you.

    1. Fluffy Bunny
      Devil

      "stumbled by including irrelevant Android names" - actually the name of any competitor.

  12. JaitcH
    Happy

    Apple and our customers place a high value on simple ... interfaces.

    Simple things for simple minds.

  13. Stuart Halliday
    Headmaster

    Are IOS developers gonna learn how to spell?

  14. Someone Else Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Blah, Blah Blah

    If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected.

    Now, there's a testable requirement, devoid of any subjectivity, ambiguity, or possibility of misinterpretation. Oh, and those of you writing complex applications (sorry, "apps") need not apply.

    Now that His Jobsness has shed his mortal coil, I can't imagine who would be making such decisions.

    1. Andrew Hodgkinson

      Re: Blah, Blah Blah

      Yes, so it's a good thing that this is just the pointless summary done by a journalist, rather than the more useful and linked-to-information summary done by Apple.

      https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/rejections/

      Try reading the original material - then you can complain about what Apple *actually* said, rather than assuming The Register's language is Apple's language.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Blah, Blah Blah

        From the article itself:

        Cupertino wrote:

        Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought-through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected.

        (Emphasis added)

        So, I'd say that unless El Reg is in the business of manufacturing quotes from Cupertino from whole cloth (you do know that Apple is headquartered in Cupertino, don't you?), then this would indeed be "what Apple *actually* said".

        Reading comprehension. I assume you've heard of it....

  15. JLV Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Suggestion for another rejection criteria

    "apps that require permissions above and beyond their stated use will be rejected"

    Thinking of...

    sms access for non-sms apps

    location access for most apps non-navigation/non-social/non-local game mode apps

    contact information for most apps

    etc...

    At least you see better transparency about the required permissions on Play. But there, or on the Apple store, it seems very little is done to restrict the "ask for the kitchen sink" approach to privacy of most app devs.

    1. Vector

      Re: Suggestion for another rejection criteria

      "At least you see better transparency about the required permissions on Play."

      Yeah, but in this case, better amounts to foggy smoked glass as opposed to a brick wall. Much as I enjoy the OS, I find Android's permissions to be overly broad and have wished many a time for more granular control over them (read contacts so we can create shortcuts? Don't need that feature: deny).

      And, yes, I know I could get that if I rooted my phone, but I'd really rather not. And I really shouldn't have to!

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Suggestion for another rejection criteria

        Hey, don't take my post as an endorsement for Android either. I would like to see this stuff radically locked down, on both platforms. My take is Android, or at least Play, is slightly better at showing you the scope of the problem. I am satisfied with neither.

        What I would like is a fake access capability. Wanna see my contacts? Sure, I'll pretend you can see them, but in reality the OS only gives the app access to a locked down sandbox. i.e. you can't really see my contacts, you only think you can. Ditto pretty much everything and reviewing access logs might be most informative as to what was attempted and whether an app could actually be trusted. Additionally, it would avoid an install being an all or nothing decision - you take the app, but you knowingly limit some of its functionality. Last but not least, you'd get security conscious users warning each other about abuses.

        Likely to happen? No, but one can dream, no? And, no, I definitely don't care to root my phone to achieve any of this.

        1. Fluffy Bunny
          Thumb Up

          Sandpit

          Running your apps in a sandpit? Brilliant idea. Oh, wait. crApple has already patented all the ideas, including ones you thought of before they submitted their patent.

    2. ragge

      Re: Suggestion for another rejection criteria

      If you had used the OS, you'd know that you can restrict most such permissions on an app-by-app basis. The user is asked with a dialog the first time the app tries to use such permissions, and can change the choice at any time. (I said most - still not all permissions are settable, for some stupid reason.) If it uses permissions that it doesn't need, it gets down rated or in some cases even rejected.

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Suggestion for another rejection criteria

        "the OS"? which is that?

        I use both. Neither do what I want, putting them together would be better.

        iOS has what you say, but only on few access rights. Location, contacts, calendars, reminders, photos, bluetooth & mic. However, they do allow you to disable those access. Does it mean the apps have no possibilty of access to other items (sms, to take an example)? Does it mean that that access is un-reported, so as not to worry us?

        I dunno, but the list the of access rights has increased, slowly. That list used to be even shorter before. Again, does it mean that that possibility of app access did not exist? Or was just unreported?

        Take an example - security boffins have reported some success in guessing lock passwords from reading accelerometers. & accelerometers are accessible from the iOS apis. Does my barcode scanner need 3D access? I wouldn't know if it asked for it.

        Android has lots more detail, but doesn't allow you to muzzle access. Yes, I can see "full network access" for my barcode scanner, but I can't turn it off, unlike iOS. Android's Plenty of Fish has a looong list of things it likes to look at: device & app history, identity, location, photos, camera, wifi connection info, phone info, full network access, vibration control, prevent phone sleep.... That's a fair bit, no? And, way more detailed than iOS's limited list.

        So, no, neither iOS 7 nor KitKat is happy land for me. I'd like any app chatting outside of its own processing and files, or its own servers on the net, to report its intent. Whether it is to access another app, the network, sms, etc... And I'd like the OS to reject undeclared interactions outright.

        Then again, I am the kind of paranoid fool who won't use banking apps on a mobile ;-)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As with anything else in life

    Follow the rules and you will get through.

    If something is in the Apple IOS store then they take responsibility for it. This is not the case for other locations where there are no controls. That is why they are so anal about things.

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