Nearly all of developers’ complaints about the App Store, including my icon snafu yesterday, are caused or exacerbated by one root flaw: the long approval process.
If approval took 24-48 hours, rather than 7-10 days, many of Apple’s little flaws and nitpicks would be a lot easier to handle.
I’m not sure why this isn’t the case. I’ve now submitted three apps to the App Store and waited for nine approvals. All three apps interact with web services using an Apple-supplied user account for review, and for the last few reviews, I’ve checked the logs to see when the reviewers actually use the apps for the first time.
In all cases, the reviewers don’t touch the app until the day before approval or rejection. And they don’t seem to interact with the app for more than a few minutes.
The app just sits there for 6-8 days, untouched, then goes through an approval or rejection process that, as far as I can tell, takes less than 20 minutes for a complex app (and probably much less time for a simple one).
The approval delay has been remarkably consistent since about a month after the App Store launched.
I don’t believe that the delay is caused by a legitimate work overload on Apple’s end. As any developer or server admin will tell you, this is not the behavior of a queuing system that can’t quite handle the inbound request volume. If it were, the delay wouldn’t be consistent — it would grow out of control until nothing was getting served, then Apple would add more capacity, then requests would get served with no delay for a while, then they’d start queuing again. It wouldn’t be almost exactly the same delay every time.
I have a different theory: The delay is intentional. I think Apple has found some good reasons for making app developers wait at least a few days before they spend a second of their time reviewing it. My best guess is that a lot of developers find new bugs, cancel their submissions, and upload new binaries within a certain amount of time on average, and Apple doesn’t want to review them twice. Or they just don’t want developers to be able to issue new versions more than once every week or two to prevent gaming the (broken) “Newest” ranking.
If I’m right, well… let’s just say that doing this would be highly offensive to developers, and I really hope that Apple is better than that in their treatment of the people that are earning them a lot of money. But I can’t think of any other explanation that’s supported by the behavior that I see.