I Don’t Typically Do This

by Martin Gordon

So I Got A Call From An App Store Reviewer

The latest update to Flickup was rejected last week because of an admittedly semi-sketchy keyword (I had mentioned a competitor in my keywords). I fixed the keyword issue, and because of some confusion on my part surrounding the amendment process, I uploaded a new binary as well.

In a prior update to Flickup, I also had a metadata issue (you can’t mention the price, or at least the price in dollars, in your description). Apple approved the app within a day once I made the correction.

Because I submitted a new binary in this case, I expected to be bumped to the bottom of the queue and that the update would take around two weeks to be approved. I received an automated email from Apple today informing me that my review was “requiring unexpected additional time for review” and didn’t think twice about it.

At around 8 PM last night, I got a call from an App Store reviewer informing me of further issues with my submission. Despite the fact that for the past year Flickup’s description has mentioned that Apple’s APIs don’t provide image metadata from the system-provided image picker, the reviewer told me that Apple doesn’t like to be mentioned in app descriptions. He also told me that another reviewer had found a legitimate bug in the app that needed to be fixed, or else the app would be rejected and I would have to start the review process from the beginning.

In my experience, the submission process worked like this:

  1. Wait two weeks for a rejection email.
  2. Follow up the email; wait a few days for a response, if one ever arrives.
  3. Resubmit the app.
  4. Wait for approval 1-2 weeks later.

In contrast, my conversation with an App Store reviewer afforded me the ability to have a conversation with a live person, who gave me clear instructions and the opportunity to ask questions and receive immediate feedback. At the end of our conversation, the reviewer even gave me his phone number and told me to leave him a voicemail when I had updated the submission so he could push it through.

Does this mean Apple is going to start reaching out to developers of rejected applications, or is this just a fluke experience initiated by a thoughtful App Store reviewer? Only time will tell.

The call was a small gesture that made me feel better about the review process and gave me hope that Apple is actually taking steps to increase transparency and reduce communication lag throughout the process. That said, I’m going to wait and see how long it takes for them to approve Flickup before completely absolving them of their sins.

UPDATE (9/18/09 1:30 PM): The reviewer just called me back letting me know that Flickup was approved and that it should show up in the App Store within the next twelve hours.