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Have app reviewers gotten worse?

SeanyKSeanyK Posts: 194Registered Users @ @
Hey folks, so over the years we have all encountered the various rejections of the app review team, sometimes justified (such as a bug, error that we have not noticed during production) other times, odd reasons, that you just kind of roll with, accept it, do what they say and get on with it.

Recently however, I have encountered somewhat bizarre rejections, the best one being, I was updating an existing app to make it ARM64 compatible, first, they reject the title suggesting keyword stuffing - I will admit, there were a couple of added words, not obvious, but anyhow...Fine, I changed it.
Now...

Thank you for your resubmission. Upon further review the following was identified:

Guideline 4.3 - Design
Your app duplicates the content and functionality of apps currently available on the App Store.
Apps that simply duplicate content or functionality create clutter, diminish the overall experience for the end user, and reduce the ability of developers to market their apps.


This is fantastic, given the app has been out for 2 years, I am being accused of duplicating another app? How does that work?

I also find the appeal process worse, they no longer call you to discuss, they just simply agree with the original reviewer (which makes me think the appeal is done by them anyway!) after a day or two of keeping you waiting.

What has happened? Have they outsourced a review team, and just have a complete and utter random rejection rate?

I also love(loathe) the fact they make you spend time updating after a rejection, only to reject it again for something they could have mentioned in the first place, completely counter-productive.
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Replies

  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,604New Users @ @ @ @ @
    @SeanyK Yikes!

    Lets hope this is not a new trend.

    Welcome to the new People's Republic of Apple. :(
  • astersdoastersdo USAPosts: 627New Users @ @ @
    If it is an existing app then they should honor it's existing place in the App Store.
  • SeanyKSeanyK Posts: 194Registered Users @ @
    edited April 12
    I agree, if it's a brand new app and a blatant copy of something else then sure, exercise that rule, but to an update?
    Essentially they could apply that rule to anything.

    Made a snapchat style filter app? Released it three years ago? Sorry, don't update it, as your copying snapchat!

    (Of course, just an example! I didn't make a snapchat app ha ha!)

    I've basically gone back to them and suggested I am being penalised for updating an app so users get compatibility with their latest devices, we shall see...
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,604New Users @ @ @ @ @
    astersdo wrote: »
    If it is an existing app then they should honor it's existing place in the App Store.

    But they're not, and therein lies the problem.

    This is just another way to get screwed over by Apple. You originally wrote the app. And then they penalize you for "spamming" on a required update?!

    Boggles the mind.
  • id256id256 Posts: 83New Users @
    Seems to me, that the more discoverable (and profitable) an app is, the more problems with reviews there are. Correct me if my suspicions are artificial...
  • SeanyKSeanyK Posts: 194Registered Users @ @
    I think parts of what they are doing are brilliant;

    1) Cut off apps that do not support 64-bit, this will cut out a lot of junk apps, reskinned from years ago, that users do not update / do not know how to update.

    The 30-day 'fix it or it gets deleted' idea, I think is good, again, like the above it cuts the clutter, combined with 50 character app names, means no longer can you use this for a game;

    OMG Justin Bieber Loves This Game Because it's like Angry Birds Clash Of Clans Candy Crush whilst boom beach snapchat facebook enjoys Drinking Soda Free No Ads But There Are lots of ads FREE

    It's forcing old apps to work, or disappear.

    The problem however is their review team, it has always been a mixed bag, sometimes they go through, other times they pick up something (sometimes fair, sometimes not) and then other times truly ridiculous (such as my example on the first post) they need to apply consistency and stop punishing people for updating their app (losing ratings / stupid rejections etc!)

  • sparksosparkso Posts: 534Registered Users @ @ @
    SeanyK wrote: »

    Thank you for your resubmission. Upon further review the following was identified:

    Guideline 4.3 - Design
    Your app duplicates the content and functionality of apps currently available on the App Store.
    Apps that simply duplicate content or functionality create clutter, diminish the overall experience for the end user, and reduce the ability of developers to market their apps.


    This is fantastic, given the app has been out for 2 years, I am being accused of duplicating another app? How does that work?

    I also find the appeal process worse, they no longer call you to discuss, they just simply agree with the original reviewer (which makes me think the appeal is done by them anyway!) after a day or two of keeping you waiting.

    What has happened? Have they outsourced a review team, and just have a complete and utter random rejection rate?

    I also love(loathe) the fact they make you spend time updating after a rejection, only to reject it again for something they could have mentioned in the first place, completely counter-productive.

    So has it managed to get through eventually?
  • SeanyKSeanyK Posts: 194Registered Users @ @
    It got through on a one time exception, basically they said it should all be one game with a main menu to choose the theme rather than 3 different themed games, I know what they meant, but it's a flawed logic.

    With their view, then Angry birds should be one game, and just have a choice of themes when starting the game.
    That would never happen...
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,041Registered Users @ @ @ @
    SeanyK wrote: »
    It got through on a one time exception, basically they said it should all be one game with a main menu to choose the theme rather than 3 different themed games, I know what they meant, but it's a flawed logic.

    With their view, then Angry birds should be one game, and just have a choice of themes when starting the game.
    That would never happen...

    You can't compare your apps to Angry Birds.. you think this world is fair? you think Apple dare to terminate Microsoft's account?

  • dinglefacedingleface Posts: 177New Users @ @
    I've had similar rejections for existing apps recently as well. Seems they are getting more strict or maybe we just both got a real hard nosed reviewer. I suspect they are becoming more strict though since they are trying to clean up app store.
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,041Registered Users @ @ @ @
    Maybe we should join together to do something, otherwise Apple would not know we are so angry about this.
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,604New Users @ @ @ @ @
    SeanyK wrote: »
    It got through on a one time exception, basically they said it should all be one game with a main menu to choose the theme rather than 3 different themed games, I know what they meant, but it's a flawed logic.

    With their view, then Angry birds should be one game, and just have a choice of themes when starting the game.
    That would never happen...

    The review process has totally become corrupt. You got hit with design, another word for spamming the app store. I strongly suspect that either the reviewer decides to not approve your app based on some bogus Design or Spam issue, or that Apple has advised the reviewers to stonewall and not approve updates, using that flimsy excuse. You're lucky to have gotten it through. But the next time, you'll face these @ssholes again.

    Wonder how many developers are being screwed over by the review team. Apple is destroying the livelihood of many without caring or allowing developers to present a logical argument.

    Apple review just stonewalls you and hopes that you will walk away. Not to mention they threaten you with the loss of your developer account should you continue to "violate" the rules.

    What a f*cking croc of sh*t this is.
  • chemistrychemistry Posts: 542Registered Users @ @ @
    conspiracy theory, I think some reviewers actually publish apps themselves. So that explains how some guys can keep updating apps that are totally not allowed.
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,041Registered Users @ @ @ @
    edited July 19
    del
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,041Registered Users @ @ @ @
    raymng wrote: »
    dev666999 wrote: »
    SeanyK wrote: »
    It got through on a one time exception, basically they said it should all be one game with a main menu to choose the theme rather than 3 different themed games, I know what they meant, but it's a flawed logic.

    With their view, then Angry birds should be one game, and just have a choice of themes when starting the game.
    That would never happen...

    The review process has totally become corrupt. You got hit with design, another word for spamming the app store. I strongly suspect that either the reviewer decides to not approve your app based on some bogus Design or Spam issue, or that Apple has advised the reviewers to stonewall and not approve updates, using that flimsy excuse. You're lucky to have gotten it through. But the next time, you'll face these @ssholes again.

    Wonder how many developers are being screwed over by the review team. Apple is destroying the livelihood of many without caring or allowing developers to present a logical argument.

    Apple review just stonewalls you and hopes that you will walk away. Not to mention they threaten you with the loss of your developer account should you continue to "violate" the rules.

    What a f*cking croc of sh*t this is.

    Do we have an association of Apple Developer?

  • SeanyKSeanyK Posts: 194Registered Users @ @
    They are doing it again, 3 more apps had the same rejection, it seems like they are trying to consolidate apps but going about it the completely wrong way.
    It's basically safer to just leave your apps without updating them , but if they need updates for compatibility (i.e. Os11> @dev666999 said:
    > astersdo wrote: »
    >
    > If it is an existing app then they should honor it's existing place in the App Store.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > But they're not, and therein lies the problem.
    >
    > This is just another way to get screwed over by Apple. You originally wrote the app. And then they penalize you for "spamming" on a required update?!
    >
    > Boggles the mind.

    Correct, this is indeed what they are doing.
    I received the 'policy notification' about apps not supporting later ios devices, and 30 days to fix them, for 3 of my paid apps - my free apps are all 64-bit compatible.

    So I updated one of the paid ones, and immediately had it rejected for this;

    Guideline 4.3 - Design


    We noticed that your app provides the same feature set as many of the other apps you've submitted to the App Store; it simply varies in content or language.

    Apps that simply duplicate content or functionality create clutter, diminish the overall experience for the end user, and reduce the ability of developers to market their apps.

    Next Steps
    To resolve this issue, please combine apps with similar feature sets into a single "container" app (using the in-app purchase API to deliver different content if appropriate).

    We encourage you to review your app concept and incorporate different content and features that are in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.



    Bearing in mind, there is a free version of that game only... So what do they want me to do? How do you combine a free and paid version? The free version has In-App purchase, the pro version does not - so do they only want one version of an app now? Is more than 1 version considered 'spam'?


    So in turn, I can't update the other 2 paid apps, as they will blatantly be rejected for the same reason, it does not make sense at all, I have no idea what Apple are trying to do here, it's almost like they want to limit the amount of apps/games a person can have.

    Good luck telling Rovio to get rid of some Angry birds versions, or Supercell "hey guys, remove Boom Beach, as it's the same as Clash of Clans, you are cluttering the store"

    Ya right!!
  • smashingsmashing Posts: 291Registered Users @ @
    What are the apps?
    Time Calculator+ the best time calculator in the world.
  • dinglefacedingleface Posts: 177New Users @ @
    edited August 10
    SeanyK I highly suggest you take any free/paid versions and combine them into one utilizing IAP's. If you don't, they will delay review times for all your other apps and across multiple accounts if you get one more of these rejections.

    App reviewers have gone crazy with the 4.3 spam guideline. It is clear now that it's not just a couple anal reviewers. They have all been instructed to be very strict with this policy and their definition of spam is a moving target meaning their definition of spam is unclear and their enforcement of it inconsistent.

    I liked it better when they decided they didn't like what you were doing they would just reject your app. But now they very quickly delay review times for all your other apps and give you no recourse.

    Additionally, if you "continue to abuse" their policy.... it may result in your removal from the developer program.



  • SeanyKSeanyK Posts: 194Registered Users @ @
    Well, I explained it to the reviewer and it went through, I never got a reply to my message, it just went back into review and was approved.

    Funnily enough, same again on my next app, rejected within seconds of going into review, with the same 4.3.

    It's a musical app, the free versions has IAP's to unlock more instruments.

    The paid version has everything unlocked, and is, paid.

    Surprise surprise, they rejected that update, so I have had to explain myself all over again.

    So in that instance, there is nothing to combine, either they want me to remove the paid one, or they will re-review it and approve.

    It really is a strange guideline, I can understand if I had 20 music apps the same, but there is literally one app the same (the free version) and this is a paid version.
    I think they just scan the title, and if it matches the title of an existing app they reject it on 4.3 without even looking to see any difference.


  • dinglefacedingleface Posts: 177New Users @ @
    edited August 10
    Yes they did same to me, but every time I update a paid/free app combo they reject again. This time they did not like my explanation and instructed for me to combine the apps together and said that now all my apps will experience delayed review times. Such a joke.

    I can understand them mandating me to combine apps, that's fine I'll do it. But why did they have to go and increase review times for all my apps. It's not as if I had 10 or 20 cloned versions... it was one free / one paid.

    The more power these app stores get the more risk there is in this business. I am looking forward to getting away from being a hitch hiker on these totalitarian dictatorship platforms so I can control my own destiny and stop looking over my shoulder all the time. I feel like a drug dealer just waiting for the drive by even though I'm not dealing the drugs.
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,604New Users @ @ @ @ @
    edited August 10
    dingleface wrote: »
    Yes they did same to me, but every time I update a paid/free app combo they reject again. This time they did not like my explanation and instructed for me to combine the apps together and said that now all my apps will experience delayed review times. Such a joke.

    I can understand them mandating me to combine apps, that's fine I'll do it. But why did they have to go and increase review times for all my apps. It's not as if I had 10 or 20 cloned versions... it was one free / one paid.

    The more power these app stores get the more risk there is in this business. I am looking forward to getting away from being a hitch hiker on these totalitarian dictatorship platforms so I can control my own destiny and stop looking over my shoulder all the time. I feel like a drug dealer just waiting for the drive by even though I'm not dealing the drugs.

    Having experienced the same line of Bullsh*t from Apple, my conclusion is that they are trying to put various developers out of business.

    They selectively pick the developers who they want to apply these rules to. There are developers who can have multiple versions of the same app, and not get chastised by Apple. I don't even have to name them... you know who they are. :(
  • astersdoastersdo USAPosts: 627New Users @ @ @
    Bizarre if you can't have both a free and a paid version of an app. I wish the EU would hurry up and investigate App Stores like they said they would. An App Store with rigged search, curated chart positions, and dubious review practices is surely worth a look.
  • SeanyKSeanyK Posts: 194Registered Users @ @
    It's strange because there really is no certain guidelines as to what they class as the same.

    If a game has a similar theme, yet totally different content, how can they expect you to combine them together?
    For example.

    Joe Bloggs has a 'zombie dentist' game and decided to make 'pony dentist' - yes it shares a similar codebase, but a totally different idea/theme, and nobody who wants a zombie dentist wants to see ponies, nor do pony fans want to see zombies...

    (I don't have either of those above games by the way!)

    By the same token, I can see how they would want to stop, say, 100 of those dentist games on the same codebase, so the line does need to be drawn somewhere, but they need to be sensible about it.

    It would be far better to simply say, right... If you are using xyz codebase, you are limited to 2 or 3 versions of that no matter what the theme is, and so on...

    As said already, Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, all of those have multiple versions running on a very similar codebase yet nothing is said, one rule for one and one for another cannot possibly be fair at all.


  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,604New Users @ @ @ @ @
    edited August 11
    SeanyK wrote: »
    It's strange because there really is no certain guidelines as to what they class as the same.

    If a game has a similar theme, yet totally different content, how can they expect you to combine them together?
    For example.

    Joe Bloggs has a 'zombie dentist' game and decided to make 'pony dentist' - yes it shares a similar codebase, but a totally different idea/theme, and nobody who wants a zombie dentist wants to see ponies, nor do pony fans want to see zombies...

    (I don't have either of those above games by the way!)

    By the same token, I can see how they would want to stop, say, 100 of those dentist games on the same codebase, so the line does need to be drawn somewhere, but they need to be sensible about it.

    It would be far better to simply say, right... If you are using xyz codebase, you are limited to 2 or 3 versions of that no matter what the theme is, and so on...

    As said already, Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, all of those have multiple versions running on a very similar codebase yet nothing is said, one rule for one and one for another cannot possibly be fair at all.


    That is exactly the problem. They even want you to combine apps if the various apps are in a genre... for example if you have a formula one racing game, and also have a gokart game, and perhaps another bike racing game.

    These idiots want you to place all of them into one container app. I argued that the user may be looking for one, but not the other. It fell on deaf ears.

    Sucks because it greatly reduces your visibility in the store, and creates coding headaches. But these morons will just stonewall you when you present reasonable arguments against it.

    And yeah... their "favored" developers are not bound by these rules. :(

  • paintcanpaintcan Posts: 1New Users Noob
    astersdo wrote: »
    Bizarre if you can't have both a free and a paid version of an app. I wish the EU would hurry up and investigate App Stores like they said they would. An App Store with rigged search, curated chart positions, and dubious review practices is surely worth a look.

    This is what needs to happen. Someone needs to investigate.

    In addition to what you have mentioned above, there are also too many unfair contractual clauses in their terms of service. Also their App Store Review *Guidelines* should be just that, guidelines, but they are now treating them as commandments by punishing anyone who doesn't comply with their vague, unclear, left up to interpretation bullshit. Just because the TOS says they reserve the right to remove your apps, ban your account, refuse you service, etc etc does not mean that they can do all of these things for any arbitrary reason. Contrary to popular belief and what the app store giants want you to believe, those reasons actually must be legitimate enough to hold up in court. It's just that no one has taken action against them yet.

    In the regular world there is something called wrongful termination. An employer may ask you to sign an employment contract that says they have the right to terminate your employment for any reason at all, but that won't hold up in the court of law. For instance, that clause would not allow them to legally terminate an employee for being female, pregnant, or married. This would be considered discrimination.

    I hope an action comes against this one day soon.

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