December 15, 2008

Anticipation

About three weeks ago, I uploaded two new iPhone (the iPod Touch can use them too) apps to the App Store.  One of them (Guimbarde) was approved in just a few short days.  The other has been languishing in “In Review” status.  Granted, Guimbarde is a fairly simple app so I was pleased that it breezed through the approval process.  However, the other app is just as simple, if not more so!  The disparity in the whole system is shockingly bad.  I guess I've been lucky in the past to have apps approved in about the span of a week.

I'm not the only one who has been agitated by the whole mystery of the approval process either.  There are numerous complaints on the developer forums of the bad service, with horror stories of apps being rejected after excruciatingly long wait times (and for blatantly obvious nit-picks, which you'd think would have been punted back to the developer almost immediately).

I've noticed a trend as of late, too:  similarly themed apps all appear on the App Store in the exact same timeframe.  Recently there was a rash of fake geiger counter apps.  I fear that my app is being unjustly held up so that it can be released with other people who had the exact same idea.  Of course I have no idea if that's true or not.  Only time will tell.  Three weeks and counting.............

November 17, 2008

App Store Reviews vs. Ball

When I wrote Ball for the iPhone (and iPod Touch), I didn't envision it ending up being very popular.  I wrote it primarily for my own amusement.  I have been very pleased at the App Store user reviews Ball has garnered so far.  Except for one.  One person did not read the simple instructions on how to access the ball settings (available through the built-in Settings app).  Because that person could not find the settings, they gave a one-star horrible review.

Now, part of this is probably my fault.  I should somehow make it more clear where to find the settings.  (I debated making them available from within Ball itself, but to keep things super simple, as Ball itself is super simple, I opted to let the system Settings app handle the settings for me.)  I do present an alert sheet the first time Ball is run to give out some simple instructions, but if you miss them the first time then there is no way to see them again.  I'm not sure how to work around that yet.

The real problem, though, I think, is that there are no controls on the App Store for managing user reviews.  Clearly in the case for Ball, that single user review is wrong (and more than slightly defamatory).  How do I redress this?  I do not have the power to get the review pulled, which is slightly a good thing, otherwise developers would pull all the negative reviews even if they were relevant.  What I really want to do is contact the customer and help them out.  Then once the user finds the settings and is happy, they would want to change their review themselves.  However, I cannot contact people who have purchased my apps.  I do not have any contact information for them.  (If you are a developer, please file a bug with Apple requesting them to allow you to contact your customers.  The more duplicate bugs filed, the more chance there is of them fixing the system.  I think a good way is to have the initial contact via Apple sending the customer an email on behalf of the developer, then the user has the choice of responding directly.)

I've only had a handful of people write in to me via the Support link when they have problems.  If you have purchased something from the App Store and it doesn't work or you need help, before posting a bad review, contact the developer via their support channels.  Let me say that again:  contact the developer!  There is a support link in iTunes for every product you buy.  Developers are more than happy to provide assistance.

August 7, 2008

Pictures Of Knives Are Offensive

I received this communication from Apple this evening as to why Slasher was removed:

Slasher has been removed from the App Store based on section 3.3.12 of the iPhone SDK agreement covering objectionable content.

3.3.12 Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or
defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.

So what this essentially means is that a picture of a knife is deemed offensive and/or objectionable.  (I don't see how it could be pornographic, obscene, or defamatory.)  Ridiculous.  Why do toy stores sell plastic knives to children if they would be so “objectionable”?  And if I don't like another App Store developer, all I have to do is complain that their app offends me and Apple will pull the plug on them?

Anyhow, I asked Apple to clarify what exactly is the offensive part so I can correct it.  Hopefully I can get Slasher back on the store somehow.

Slasher Mysteriously Disappears

I submitted my very first iPhone (and iPod Touch) app to the App Store on Saturday the 2nd.  It lingered in stasis awaiting approval, and finally yesterday the 6th it was approved.  Slasher appeared on the iTunes App Store.  Slasher is a very simple app, made just for pure amusement purposes.  It shows a picture of a kitchen knife on the screen and also plays a sound when you shake the phone.  Amidst mixed reviews (it seems to be very polarizing — either you love it or hate it) today Slasher disappeared from the App Store.  No warning.  No email telling me it was yanked.  I sent Apple an email asking for an explanation, and so far there has been no response.

I have no problem with people objecting to Slasher, after all everyone has their own personal taste.  I do have a problem with the App Store refusing to publish Slasher because they don't like it.  What about all those people who would otherwise enjoy using Slasher?  Why deny them only because a few others object?  I knew at the outset that I was at the mercy of the App Store.  I didn't realize I would be affected by the App Store capriciousness so soon.

Luckily Slasher was posted as a free download.  If I had elected to charge a fee then I'd be more than just a little bit upset.

Hopefully this event is just a bump in the road and soon Slasher will be back up for everyone to enjoy.