Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

AppStore review process needs improvements

Many people in the industry felt that Apple shouldn’t be a gate keeper for apps on AppStore. I was never a fan of that model and I believe having a gate keeper is important to not allow junk apps.   But may be, Apple is taking it too far.

I never had many issues with AppStore review process. Many of my apps have been rejected several times for several reasons and I never had problems. Lately though, it is getting worse. Not the rejection process, but the approval process, both obviously are interlinked.

Time for Approval/Rejection

Earlier, some of the apps used to be approved in about 3 days. This also meant, apps were rejected in 3 days. This used to be good because we were able to fix the problem and re-submit the app to be approved all within the same week.  While some people debate the reasons for rejection, I never considered that as an issue as we can quickly fix whatever Apple asked us to fix and resubmit it again quickly. So Time is an important factor here.

Lately though,  an app is taking a month to be reviewed. This means, after I submit an update, it’ll take atleast a  month to know if it is approved/rejected. If it is rejected, we have to resubmit the build and cross our fingers for another month. Meanwhile, users are out of luck as they live with the issues in the app as fixes takes longer and longer due to slow approval process.

Solution: Improve Approval process by cutting approval times

App Rejection vs Content

Several of my apps were rejected for different reasons. I never had many complains. Lately, my ‘Flight Status‘ app was rejected because it has a keyword it shouldn’t have.  Well, I don’t disagree with Apple. But then, why reject an App instead of putting it on ‘Hold’? Apple can just request the developer to change the keywords instead of  rejecting the entire app and asking me to resubmit it again. Removing a keyword takes 5 seconds. For Apple to approve the re-submitted app, it takes a month. You see the problem, right? I hope Apple realizes the issue here.

Worst part is, I have other apps in ‘Review’ with similar keywords and I can’t do anything about this. They even disable the option to change the keywords after you submit them.

Solution: Apple needs to add an ‘On Hold’ Status. Currently an App is either ‘In Review’, ‘Ready for Sale’ or ‘Rejected’. For issues related to content and others which may not be related to the core app, Apple should just place the approval on hold till the developer modifies the content or provides additional info requested by Apple. This way, they need not review the app again which will cut down the review time and is good for developer and also for Apple.

I hope Apple is listening to feedback. I think they are and I hope to see some positive changes to the approval process.

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New Flight Tracking App for iPhone: Flights Pro

fp9

Our latest application has just been approved by – Flights Pro. It is now available on AppStore.

Flights pro lets you track the status of all flights worldwide. It integrates with TripIt to automatically download all your flight information. Apart from flight status information, the application also displays weather info, arrival & departure delays and contact information of airlines. Weather and Delay info is currently available for US airports only.

The application displays flight status information, delays, cancellations etc. It also displays terminal & gate information wherever available. The application gathers the data from FlightStats, a very reliable source for flight status related information. Maps of the application is powered by FlightView. Maps are displayed for worldwide flights. Status information of all flights is available for 2 days in advance.

flightspro

We launched our Flights application focused on US only flights. Our Flights Pro app covers all flights worldwide including worldwide maps.  While this app uses the same design as our Flights app, the back end engine is completely different. It uses FlightStats for data and FlightView for maps, similar to our Flight Status app.

flightspromap

The app comes at a great price introductory price of $.2.99. Do grab our application while the deal exist.

We hope you’ll like this app. If so, drop us a review in AppStore.

Travel Guide in AppStore

Did you notice the new ‘Travel Guide’ option in AppStore? Apple seem to be adding/rotating that section often and this time (finally!) it is travel categories turn.

travelguide

I like two things in this new ‘Travel Guide’ section.

First, Apple combines all content in iTunes in a single section. You’ll notice that this section not just includes apps from AppStore, but it also includes travel related podcasts, audio books, music, movies etc.  Hidden in these multiple sections is a good sign where Apple finally listed sections for ‘Translation’, ‘Learning’ etc. This is a good sign as Apple sees the need to separate these translation and learning apps from other categories as I noted earlier, these types of apps fill the AppStore.

Second, I am glad to see one of our app – Currency Exchange – listed in there. Our own currency converter application has been one of our successful apps and we are glad it is starting to get some attention from Apple. Our recent update has been received well and we are working on a new update which I think is going to make this app even better.

travelguidedetails

Improvements to AppStore Developer Portal

Last week Apple made some changes to developer’s website iTunes Connect. Now developers can add keywords to the application description so that they show up well in search results. This news has been covered well by many blogs.

The part that is not covered is, why this is done and what features are disabled. When you search in AppStore, the name of the application obviously is given priority compared to a keyword being present in the description. So for apps to show up in many search results, developers started tweaking the names of the applications to fit in as many keywords as possible after the app is released. Infact, in some cases, we will see the names of competing applications show up in some apps. This means, names of the apps change pretty frequently and the app names end up like a mini app description. So, to avoid this issue, Apple make two key changes to the way it works.

1) Apple disabled the option to edit the name of the app once submitted. This means, the developer has to choose and live with the name once he submits the app. There is no tweaking it again.

2) Any additional search keywords developers want to include should be included in in the Keywords section. But then, you cannot have your entire dictionary there either. Keywords are restricted to 100 characters. So you better choose the appropriate ones….and once you nailed your keywords, there is no changing it….forever after submitting the info. So think again before you hit the submit button.

So what does this mean for end users? Well, good short names for the apps to start with and hopefully better search results.

I consider this a good move from Apple. I wish they let me edit those keywords though, atleast when I update my the application as it could contain some new functionality and I might want to include in the keywords. Overall, a positive move. What do you think?

Update: I noticed that both Application name and the keywords can be modified while submitting an update. This is good.