Review of New Apps

Manual revision of each new app and update – Each new app and each upgrade to an existing app goes through a manual revision process involving the App review team. App Review is the name of this department in charge of controlling the population of the iOS, watchOS and tvOS App Store (interestingly, macOS is not mentioned).

Every day, reviewers collect about 50 or 100 apps from this system. Novices start only with iPhone apps, and as they gain experience, they start reviewing apps with subscriptions, in-app purchases, and other platforms. In total, they can barely spend a few minutes on each of the apps, although the process is simple: contrast the app with the guidelines for non-compliances.

Most apps are straightforward and require little time. When a reviewer analyzes an app, he or she must decide whether to accept, retain, or reject it. Since Phil Schiller is in charge of the App Store, the average review times have dropped significantly. According to CNBC, Apple aspires to review 50% of apps in less than 24 hours.

In times of great work, such as when Apple launches a new version of iOS that developers must adapt to, this metric can drop to 6%. It is during these periods that the working hours can reach a maximum of 12 hours per day.

When an app is rejected, the developer can claim. This starts an app review process that escalates depending on the situation. The first instance is known as the App Review Board, composed of more veteran examiners. In those situations, where Apple’s rules are not very clear, or this is a notorious case (such as Steam Link now available or Spotify), the Executive Review Board, composed of Phil Schiller and other vice presidents of the App Store, is moved on to the Executive Review Board.

A large team that keeps their identity for safety

In December 2015, Apple named Phil Schiller responsible for the App Store. This means that it falls within the marketing area managed by the Apple executive. Currently, the App Store review team has these features:

  • More than 300 people were working.
  • Two offices in Sunnyvale, California, and also Cork and Shanghai.
  • The team speaks 81 different languages.
  • They’re Apple’s full-time employees with all their benefits, not subcontracted.

The CNBC article also indicates a critical issue, which is the zeal with which they keep the identity of their components. Although the day-to-day management of the teams falls to a vice president named Ron Okamoto, his subordinates remain anonymous for safety.

Sometimes the rejection of an app can cause an unpleasant reaction on the part of the developer, who can see their way of life in danger. Some testimonies that are collected for the preparation of the report state that some developers may come to threaten team members.

Therefore, when a member of the apps review team contacts a developer on the phone to clarify a rejection, they are often identified as “Bill.” Without adding a surname. This person was in charge of contacting Spotify when Apple rejected its app after adding instructions to users to give themselves high via the web. He was also the one who contacted the parental control apps recently about the limitations in the category.

In the end, it is a vision of the App Store with a level of detail that we have not seen so far, and that will interest the developers a lot.