App rejections and their effect on the development process

Earlier this week, one of our iOS apps was rejected from the app store. The reason it was rejected by Apple was because there was no moderation of user-generated content. This means we need to add a feature that allows users to flag content as offensive or objectionable, and within 24-hours a moderation entity needs to review that content. Situations like this open up multiple problems with our initial vision for the app.

The first problem is now we need to add a new feature that we never estimated for. App store rejections will happen at times, but usually rejections are a small fix. When a large fix is imposed on us by a 3rd party, it costs us and our client time and money that was never anticipated. In the moderation example, not only do we need to add a feature to the app, but the owner of the app has to decide on a moderation process. This will likely involve a team of people on stand-by 24/7, otherwise he risks his app being removed from the store.

The second problem is when rejections count as strikes against our developer account. For single developers, this might not be as much of a problem. But for companies that take on multiple clients, this could be a huge problem. We have published many apps from many different people, and a large portion of them are submitted to the store under our Push Interactions accounts. We have to be extremely careful when developing apps, to avoid any problems for our other clients. This is why it would be great to know when new policies are put in place, however Apple does not notify us of modifications to their app store policies. And likewise, Google hasn’t been very forthcoming on their rejection-strike policies, so this is something we need to avoid.

App store moderation is certainly a good thing. Google and Apple wish to provide users with an enjoyable and clean experience. But when rejections go too far, there are larger implications that affect the way we do business. Rejections on one platform of a multi-platform app often means we have to make changes to both platforms, otherwise our apps become inconsistent with each other.

It’s a fine line and we pride ourselves on knowing the ins and outs of the app stores. But we remain at the whim of Apple and Google in terms of what those policies mean for us and our clients.

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