As promised, Apple will now entertain suggestions from the hoi polloi on how it should run its App Store

You may have one or two, dare we say Epic, thoughts to share


Apple on Monday said changes to its App Store review process, outlined at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, have now been implemented.

That means it has accelerated its App Store review process to prevent iOS app bug fixes from being delayed over unresolved store rule violations, except where legal issues are involved.

Non-compliant app revisions that repair flaws should see expedited approval, with the expectation that policy deviations will be addressed in the next feature-oriented update.

The biz also said that in addition to offering a mechanism to appeal adverse app review decisions, part of the new regime heralded at WWDC, it will entertain suggestions about possible changes to its guidelines.

It seems doubtful that co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs would bother with such niceties. Jobs famously repudiated the notion of market research when the Macintosh was being developed by declaring, Henry Ford-style, that "customers don't know what they want until we've shown them."

But that was before Apple found itself in the crosshairs of antitrust-busters in the US, Europe, and elsewhere over its market dominance. With so many eyes on Apple's behavior, the company is suddenly all ears.

Apple created its "We Want to Hear From You" webpage in July, shortly after revealing its planned policy changes at WWDC, which was around the same time Apple's dispute with Basecamp over its Hey email app came to a head. The iPhone maker was surveying developers in conjunction with WWDC and expanded its data-gathering operation into a persistent web form for soliciting developer input.

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Jeff Johnson, who runs app development biz Lapcat Software, expressed skepticism that Apple's changes will actually improve things for developers. "If the rules are a constant moving target, then how can developers make any plans?" he said in an email to The Register. "How is changing the rules fair to developers who already had to abide by the previous stricter rules?"

He said it looks like the process will continue to be opaque and therefore still subject to favoritism and whim. "Will Apple prominently notify all App Store developers when it alters one of the guidelines, or will only the developer who requested the change get a special exemption?" he said.

The iPhone maker has said nothing whatsoever about its process for turning developer requests and suggestions into active policy or about whether it will even notify anyone if and when it adopts a suggestion. The only way anyone outside the iGiant can gauge Apple's receptiveness to submitted ideas is awaiting some official notice that a policy change has been made at the suggestion of a developer. In other aspects of its operations where it has the opportunity to be transparent, such as its internal Radar bug tracking system, Apple chooses to be secretive.

To judge by the recent conflict between Epic Games and Apple, the iPhone maker isn't looking to shake things up too much. Epic pushed Apple to allow it to conduct digital commerce through its own payment processor rather than Apple's In-App Purchase system and to allow it to run its own online store for distributing iOS apps. Epic CEO Tim Sweeny submitted his suggestion to Apple execs in a letter back in June.

Apple did not welcome that particular request. And when Epic, clearly spoiling for a fight, went ahead and tried to implement it anyway, Apple booted Epic's Fortnite from the iOS App Store and terminated its developer account. That termination completed on Friday.

Until the courts and lawmakers intervene, software developers looking to avoid Epic's fate and legal bills might consider tailoring their suggestions with an eye toward appeasement rather than confrontation. For example, try suggesting that Apple collect a larger share of developer revenue than a mere 30 per cent of every transaction.

Apple's own marketing once endorsed such defiance: "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo." ®


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