My Apple App Store Review Hot-take

It’s hot-takes, but I’ll keep them short.

  • Apple has a right to control the content of their App Store.
  • Maybe there should be other ways to load apps onto devices, like on the Mac.
  • Some developers love to push the rules
  • Sometimes the pushback is for money - the loudest complaints are from the biggest players who, often, are VC funded.

The biggest issue though?

  • The reviewers are (likely) operating under loose guidelines and for relatively low pay. They are laborers, some of whom are just showing up and some of whom are trying their best. It would not surprise me if some lose their job after a particularly public haranguing of Apple in the media. Having worked several jobs with these types of constraints, I’m willing to bet that they have little autonomy to make decisions that are then backed by management, little access to ask nuanced questions, no access to special deals (like Netflix and Spotify paying a smaller percentage) other than what they hear in the media. And who wants to research for work in their off-time at a poorly-paid job? The App Store rules are all they have to go on and, probably, most of them have little technical experience. They aren’t fuzzing the apps to look for buffer overflows, they run a test suite and maybe unwrap the bundle to look for a few key indicators. Their deadlines are tight around OS release deadlines and new hardware.

By all means, fight the system, call out Apple for their mis-steps, and Janus-like guidance. Call for revisions to the App Store rules and try, constantly, to renegotiate better terms for everyone (not just your already-rich backers). But remember the front line reviewers are infantry, not special forces, essentially drafted into service by our social structure. Remember that they have no power in these arguments, other than the power to save their job through rendering the most conservative judgements.