We know that Apple's iPhone app approval process is too long, too opaque, too inconsistent, and too arbitrary. We know the parental controls are having frustrating repercussions. We know the ad hoc distribution process is frustrating and overly restrictive. We know that the rating system is biased toward the negative. We know that in-app purchases support a (mostly) broken business model. We know that iTunes Connect is buggy and user-hostile. And, worst of all, we know that Apple has no motivation to care or to fix it since their numbers look great regardless of how they treat developers. What can we do about it as mere developers playing in Apple's walled garden of a market?
Suppose Apple's vaunted numbers fell through the floor one day. 65,000 apps on the App Store? How about 200 apps on the App Store instead? It will require solidarity among developers, but I see no other way to be heard. I propose that on August 16 all developers set all of our apps' availability dates to August 23 (dates chosen arbitrarily). For one week, Apple will see App Store numbers in the toilet. Will it be enough? I don't know, but I haven't come up with a better idea and I don't know of anyone who has. Please comment if you are on board, or if you have a better idea.
Update! First, another good writeup on the problems with app submission. Second, I realized that sending a message to Apple means actually having a message to send beyond "we're not happy." Here are some ideas of what would improve things:
- Lay out a sequence/checklist of stages for a review (e.g. awaiting assignment, preliminary review, UI review, API review, network review, etc.) and report which stages have been completed, and when, for each app within iTunes Connect.
- Assign each reviewer a number which will be attached to each stage. This is similar to the "inspected by #7" slips found in (good) clothing.
- Detailed remedy requests on rejection, e.g. "By changing the bookmarks button that does not access bookmarks functionality to a more appropriate icon or title will solve this rejection issue."
- Enable parental controls on promo code redemption so that apps with a 17+ rating can give out promo codes safely.
- Allow developers to remove up to 100 devices, individually, from the program portal over the course of a 1-year license term rather than a single opportunity on renewal to reset all.
- Prompt users to rate apps they have had installed for a week instead of or in addition to prompting on deleting an app.
- Support the try-before-you-buy (i.e. free apps with a paid upgrade path to a paid version) and subscription business models with in-app purchases.
- Make iTunes Connect clearly and dependably tie App Store description/screenshot/etc. content to specific versions of the app, i.e. I should be able to make changes to the description for the version that is currently for sale and have it appear immediately, and I should be able to make changes to the description for the version that is currently in review that will be seen when the new version is approved, and not before.
Did I miss anything? Is any of that unreasonable? Please discuss.