Not really the first (well, second) entry I was thinking of making – but sometimes events aren’t as one would expect.
Daily Value has been in development since April ’09 and was approved for sale in Aug ’09 (see the blog or main page for details) and I’ve been working on an update for the past few weeks. Not only are there some neat new features planned, but a number of “quality issues” were discovered after our first binary came out. The first submission went very smoothly – as I recall it took about 6 days for the app to go “live” in the stores.
Obviously, it’s very disappointing that problems weren’t discovered during the testing and stabilization phase and even worse reached our customers. Not to rationalize too much, but it’s challenging to fully regress a product and anticipate a nearly infinite range of error states and conditions. That said, I’ve started adopting unit tests to help cover corner cases and prevent functional regression or re-introduction of bugs. Unit testing is a broad topic worthy of a longer and dedicated post or two – but suffice to say, I’ve found and fixed a number of problems and would like to deliver some new features to our users too. Exciting!
Daily Value was resubmitted to Apple for approval with some bug fixes and new features. I didn’t expect a quick turn-around this time, however. Recent guidance from Apple mentioned that “90% of apps are approved within 14 days.” It had only been about a week, but I received a rather vanilla email from the app review team that Daily Value “is requiring unexpected additional time for review.” Not the kind of email to read before quitting for the day as my mind considered largely negative possibilities!
Unfortunately, the email is all of two lines and vaguely promises to “update you with further status as soon as we are able.” So, I did a bunch of Google searches to see if others have encountered the same email and what the general results are – it seemed a largely mixed bag, but many of the posts were pretty old. So, I thought I’d weigh in with my conjecture and update this post as I get more information.
In the earlier days (a year or so ago) of app development, this email seemed to indicate some sort of problem with your app – usually procedural. Folks would use language, subject matter, or content that in Apple’s opinion was inappropriate. In some cases, it appeared Apple may have held up an app if it may have encroached on another company’s trademarks or patents to not only protect themselves but the developer.
In fact earlier this month, Looking Glass submitted an app, iGive Blood, that not only received this same “unexpected time” email but was also rejected. The problem was the app, and app store text mentioned that proceeds from the app’s sales would be donated to charity. It wasn’t appropriate and the text had to be removed from the app and store text before being resubmitted. No problem – a new binary was made and was resubmitted nine days ago.
Daily Value, however, was approved earlier in the month. The changes in version 1.1 are feature enhancements, new functionality, and quality improvements – so, I’m curious about why it’s possibly being held up.
While I don’t have any concrete evidence other than anecdotal experience, I’d like to believe that the app review team is being flooded with apps. When Daily Value first was being designed, there were fewer than 24,000 apps available – but four months later the number has reached nearly 65,000. That’s not even counting updates and fixes to existing applications. I thought I read on Apple’s web site that they get roughly 4,000 submissions (updates and new apps) per day. Approval time has gone from 7-10 days to nearly 14.
Anyway, optimistically, I’m hoping that the form email is generated by an automated system after an app submission has been in the queue for a week – and with the deluge of apps to review and pour over – more and more developers will be receiving this email that is just serving notice “you app is in the queue – be patient” – and it’s not always as ill an omen as it used to be back when app approval was much quicker. Fingers crossed, anyway!