I’ve mostly stopped writing about the dismal App Store approval process and the issues it causes because I’ve felt hopeless. Nothing has changed. Nothing has improved. Despite some token status-reporting “improvement” attempts, nearly everything about the App Store is the same, or worse, than it was a year ago.
The average review time has nearly doubled. There are more undocumented rules being enforced less consistently than ever before. Apple is as just as opaque, unhelpful, and hostile as they’ve been. Unscrupulous publishers are gaming and abusing rankings, search results, and descriptions like crazy. Invalid or off-topic reviews are still rarely removed, and the rate-on-delete dialog still unfairly destroys every app’s average star rating. It’s a mess.
But I like it here.
A lot of things are wrong with my country, too. And my state. But it’s still the only place I want to be, and I’d rather fight to improve it than abandon it.
I don’t want to go to any other mobile platform. The iPhone is still an amazing device with a great hardware and software ecosystem and hundreds of high-quality apps. But app review is a massive problem that’s slowly degrading the platform.
This can only be fixed with a major policy change.
The people at Apple capable of changing this (a very high-level executive at least, but probably only Jobs) couldn’t possibly care less when any single developer leaves the platform or makes a stink, even if it’s Google, because it ultimately doesn’t generate a lot of bad press outside of geek circles.
But they hate bad mainstream press. And the amount of negative attention surrounding app review is finally reaching a level that inspires hope — hope that the shitstorm may finally be large enough to cause a policy change.
Any policy change would require a lot of work, technically. It’s unlike Apple to announce any upcoming changes before their release. If such a policy change happens, the decision will have probably been made at least a few months beforehand.
I suspect that we’re crossing that point now, and the decision is about to be made (or recently has been made) to abolish what we know of today as app review.
I have no idea what would replace it, or whether its replacement would be significantly better. But it’s not like Apple to sit on their hands with such a high-profile part of their product line and do nothing to improve it.
Maybe this is just blind hope. It’s certainly not based on any information. It’s a hunch at best. But I can hope.