April 3, 2010

The iPad Arriveth

Early this morning I went down to the local Apple Store to pick up my iPad.  Nifty.  Even if I didn’t need one to support my existing Apps, I’d be happy with it.  Countless others have described the iPad so I have no need to pile on that cart.  Instead…

I renovated some of my more popular Apps to work with the iPad:  Ball, Circle Theory, DatesHorn, Meteorology, Mystery House, and of course Slasher.  For the most part the conversion process was straightforward.  Luckily the user interfaces were already simple enough that all I really had to do was scale it all up and use higher resolution graphics.  (Luckily I had the foresight to start with huge images for most items in the first place as just such a contingency.)  The one exception is Circle Theory, where I had to slightly redesign the interface a bit to accommodate the larger screen size and support all device orientations.

All in all it was a painless process.  Until… of course… submission for approval to the App Store.  The final beta release of the development tools arrived and I rebuilt everything with the beta tools and sent things off for submission.  I received some feedback on Meteorology for suggested, but not necessary, changes.  They said if I left it alone it would still be accepted but the improvements would be welcomed on the iPad.  I think having something that works up there at launch time, even if not picture-perfect, is better than nothing at all.  So I filed the suggestion away for a future revision and moved on.  Hey, so far not too bad, right?

The final tools build arrived, and with it came a rush of acceptance emails for all my other App submissions.  Cool.  I rebuilt with the latest tools and resubmitted everything for final approval.  First rejection:  Meteorology.  Say what???  They already approved it!  I made no changes whatsoever between the build with the beta tools and the build with the final tools.  It was rejected because they said, essentially, it didn’t work.  Riiiight.  Then why was it approved before, and why is the existing version on the store working, and why is the build working on my equipment?  There was no way to test on an iPad since I didn’t have one yet, so it missed the opening launch party.  What a stupid crazy haphazard approval system.  I’m extremely disappointed.  When I got my brand new iPad home I did a build for the device and what do you know:  it worked.  Just fine.  No problems.  Grrrrr!  Resubmit the thing again.  This time if it gets rejected once more I’ll… um… well what can ya do?  Nothing.  Just keep trying I suppose, perhaps an exercise in futility.

Then another strange thing happened.  Ball was rejected for a valid iPad UI reason.  Why did it make it through the approval process the first time?  I only had a few hours available to make the necessary changes and resubmit to make the iPad launch deadline.  Fortunately the changes were not difficult and I was able to build a revised version and resubmit it just under the wire.  But if it had been anything involved, or if my schedule had been a bit less free, I would have been in a very unfortunate situation with Ball too.

After an excruciating (at least to me) wait of a couple days my Apps finally received approval and went live on the store.  Well… except for Horn and Slasher!  They still sit in “In Review” stasis.  Aggravating!  Those two Apps are perhaps the most simple.  How much does a reviewer have to test?  In five seconds you’ve seen everything the Apps can do.  However Apps like Circle Theory or Mystery House are way more involved — and they sailed right through the approval process.  All my effort to revise perhaps my most popular two Apps of the bunch were for naught.  They missed the iPad launch and there was nothing I could do about it.

So, to sum it all up, I’m both happy and sad.  Overjoyed with the iPad and underwhelmed yet again by the App Store red tape.