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Apple’s app review fix fails to placate developers

Enlarge (credit: Jacqui VanLiew/Getty Images)

In January, Jake Nelson, a London-based developer, submitted a routine update to his popular new iPhone word game to Apple’s App Store for review, adding support for a slate of new languages. This wasn’t his first app, but he was unprepared for what followed: It took a month of frustrating discussion with Apple’s App Store reviewers and 15 revisions to his code—made more or less at random—before his update was mysteriously approved.

Nelson never learned exactly why his app was first rejected or later accepted. An appeal mechanism Apple introduced in 2020 after bad press about its control of the App Store didn’t help. Revenue from his game had been about $1,000 a month but dwindled during the weeks he couldn’t keep users engaged with new updates, and he contemplated no longer selling iOS apps for a living. “I felt as if it was an unending, completely opaque process,” he says.

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