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Changes to the app review for the Apple App Store

The app review process is the last hurdle app developers must overcome before getting their app launched or updated on the App Store. Once it has gone through the review process, the app is either set to launch in-store or is rejected, and developers have to make changes.

At WWDC 2020, Apple announced upcoming changes to the App Review process. These changes are now live, including opportunities for developers to challenge app review policies. How will these changes affect app development and App Store optimization?

There are often times when an app needs to start an update to fix a bug. Acting quickly can make the difference between maintaining and losing users. However, if the update checker detects a policy violation, the launch will be delayed and cost the developer valuable time.

With the new review process, bug fixes will no longer be delayed due to policy issues, except for those related to legal issues. Developers will still be asked to address the breaches in the next submission before they can release further updates, but this will at least prevent critical updates from being delayed.

Impact on ASO

This change is good news for app developers. Bug fixes are often the most important updates that need to be released in a timely manner, due to the impact bugs can have on apps, their use and optimization.

If an error is not resolved quickly, it can have several negative consequences:

  • Users will stop using or deleting the app, which will affect your rankings
  • Frustrated users can leave negative reviews, which can lead other potential users away and affect your positioning
  • Users will instead turn to competing apps and give them an edge over you

Even if the developer acts quickly, if the submission has something that violates the App Store guidelines, they may still be delayed. Now they can provide corrections and updates as quickly as possible, while still being aware of any policy violations that need to be resolved before the next update.

While Apple allows app developers to appeal rejections, the guidelines themselves have been more or less set in stone. This may no longer be the case, as Apple allows developers to propose changes to the policy.

How it works

Developers can go to a new section Give feedback and select specific parts of the App Store policy. After selecting the policy section, they can provide specific information, such as what they want to see changed and why.

App review process

The request also includes developer-specific information, including the apps they feel the policy in question is related to. This can provide more specific guidance based on the app and its requirements.

App review process

There is no word yet on how long it will take to go through the proposals. In any case, the fact that it is now an alternative can contribute to developers gaining greater influence in the review process.

What this might mean

There have been instances where Apple has updated the App Store policy with restrictions that have been criticized for trying to block competing apps. We’ve seen this recently with restrictions that have prevented cloud gaming apps from being added to the App Store, as well as restrictions on screen time and parental control apps.

Developers can now challenge these guidelines. If a restriction on features used in parental control apps unfairly restricts developers of these apps, they may challenge this rule and push for change. This could potentially give developers more freedom to create and sell apps on the App Store.

At the same time, there will be limits to this. There are undoubtedly some guidelines Apple will not negotiate, whether for legal reasons or to ensure that the company continues to make money.

Whatever decision Apple makes for each policy, being open to feedback is the first step toward change.

Want to learn more about App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we help you get your strategy started.

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