Apple's app review process — a rejection with a happy ending

Apple’s app review process seems to get its share of knocks in the developer press, but we at Makalu recently had a positive experience which demonstrates that, at least from time to time, the process actually works.

Earlier this month, we submitted version 1.4 of our RaceSplitter app for review. This version contained two changes:

  1. Live results publishing. Users can now publish live results online, at any time during the race. Now, the whole world can follow the event, as it unfolds.

  2. New account signup screen. In order to publish race results, the app must be logged into the user’s account. In the past, the account creation process happened upon the first publication of results. That caused problems, though, for some users, given that the account creation process happened right in the middle of timing their event. To address that, version 1.4 introduces the account creation process on first-launch of the app.

After about a week of waiting, the app was rejected, with the stated reason being that the app requires the user to provide personal information (i.e. create an account) in order to access “non-account related app features”.

Having recently read another developer’s blog about a rejection due to requesting the user’s email address “too early in the process”, we weren’t too surprised to see the rejection. But we were surprised by the stated reason, since it was flat-out wrong; our app does not require an account to use non-account related features.

Discussing that in the office, we just concluded that we must have been sent the boiler-plate response to all non-compliances with the particular referenced section of the App Review Guidelines, and that it really didn’t matter (to Apple) whether the response was actually accurate or not.

Since we urgently needed the live results publishing feature for an event at the end of this month, we were considering removing the first-launch account creation screen, but then decided to see what would happen if we responded to Apple’s feedback — simply stating that they’d made a mistake.

We did that, along with making an expedited review request. To our pleasant surprise, Apple responded that they would take our feedback into account, and one day later, we got news that the app had been released from review, and was ready for sale.

Thanks, Apple!

10 thoughts on “Apple's app review process — a rejection with a happy ending”

  1. You are blessed indeed. We submitted an IOS app and received a rejection. The rejection letter was 3 pages long about how we need to add Safarii integration, and other apple related content to the app, then were told to make the make the app run faster. The entire rejection letter was an automatic response, that had ZERO relevancy and littered with contradicting statements like the one above.

    I’ve spent 3 months arguing with them in their online submission system. No one can call me and give specific reason why they rejected my app, they just keep sending me a response to appeal, which I have done 10 times now and continue to get the same 3 page, most non-specific letter again and again.

    The app is a template that several other business just like ourselves have submitted and received acceptance. The app works for specific geographical locations. The funny part is all those apps have great reviews…

    Oh and don’t get me started on the Dev account set-up process, because of one small type error on the city business license they left a C off LLC. We have spent combined over 6 months with apple.

    Unfortunately I push my dates out, as of Aug 24 our business would have pissed away the last bit of its money on a non-refundable marketing campaign that highlights this app, that as of now is still in rejection.

    See my dilemma is simple, they can’t tell me what exactly needs to be changed and the developers won’t make changes as long as 30 other apps of the exact same template remain available.

    Unfortunately this entire ordeal will

  2. Thanks for the post. Having a similar issue at the moment with an app and have just done as you suggested. Hopefully I’ll have a similar positive experience.

  3. I have the same exact issue right now. I replied to their rejection reason. Now I have to wait. Did you guys re-upload a new binary in addition to responding to their rejection, or was responding to their rejection enough to suffice? How did you request an expedited review for an app that was rejected?

  4. Thanks Matt for the clarification. I responded to their rejection earlier today explaining how the app would be useless without an account, and that we must collect an email address / username / password for the app to function… have my fingers crossed ! 🙂

  5. Good news… the app just got approved! Took two days, then the app went back in review, and was approved within an hour. Good thing I decided to write back to them instead of going to the drawing board 🙂

  6. Matt — I am very happy to have stumbled across this post. Received the rejection notice for my app today and am very frustrated. The functionality I am including is very much warranted — and the app is exquisitely built — yet I receive the rote response. Furthermore, there are many other apps that have this feature (it’s not a main feature). I’m glad to see that there is a little hope beyond the rejection notice. I may seem calm now, but I’m fuming here above my keyboard and I’m worried that if I write a reply through the review board now, I’ll come across as too angry… I’m sure I can dial it back, but I was wondering: How politic or delicate were you with your review board submission? How far into detail did you go and did you express your frustration? Many thanks!

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