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The App Store Blues

Google Play, App Store, Apple, App Distribution3 min read

So it was announced yesterday that iOS 14 is going to be released to the public today. It looks like there is a lot of cool new features with this release, which is great. The thing is, usually Apple gives developers a buffer of a week or so to fully prepare their apps for the new version. One day isn't a lot of time when you think about it. Yes - there are beta versions of Xcode that you can build your app against long before this date. However, this doesn't take into account two issues:

Small Changes

Usually there are some minor changes between the Xcode betas and GM version(which actually lets you submit the updated app for review). You could have checked the the app on the latest betas and it should work on the GM version but apparently there are exceptions to this. I'd be especially weary about apps built with SwiftUI - which has a feature set that is basically tied to iOS versions(this has caught me with my pants down once before).

App Review

This kind of expands on the point above but, you can only actually submit a build with the GM version. Direct Xcode downloads and the software itself are quite large. I downloaded the GM Seed yesterday and it was over 11 gigabytes - and that's the compressed xip file. You have to unzip that(takes ages) and then when you first open the executable it will have to install additional components. All together downloading, unzipping and setting the thing up usually takes around an hour or so for me. I usually try to do something else while I babysit this process. Anyway, once that is all done I guess you test your app against the latest iOS 14 version and if everything is okay you can archive the build and send it off for review. Review doesn't happen instantly(but hey it's a lot faster than it used to be), you will probably be waiting 12 - 24 hours for that to happen.

To add to the above, the review queue is usually pretty clogged up during new OS releases. So unless Apple has increased their App Review staff a lot of people are probably going to be stressed out internally - and it might even take more than the usual 24 hours to get your app reviewed.

App Store blues?

Things like this all seem kind of unnecessary. With a bit of planning it probably could have been all but avoided. These kind of incidents are just another drop in the ocean of acid that (in my personal opinion) is eroding developer relations. I was lucky, the apps I have that I care most about seemed to work fine on the simulators in the GM Seed with the exception of the font looking like it had changed a little. The one SwiftUI app I wrote is probably fucked though, I don't even want to think about that right now. I still spent a good couple of hours settings everything up and checking things but. A weeks notice would have been nice.

I won't single Apple out but. Google Play is probably even worse when it comes to developer relations. Mostly due to ever-changing policies and algorithimic policing of them. Let's not forget the automated responses either.

Finished whining yet?

What I'm getting at is: I kind of wish I had spent more energy on developing web-based solutions. And I think that's what I will do from now on. It's all just so tiresome. I want to push updates instantly and not have to sweat everytime they reach the end of the review queue. I don't want to be accosted every few months about some new policy whim - and the typical do something within 30 days or we will delete your app (borderline) threats. I want more time to deal with new OS updates(or just not even care about them at all is a better way to put it!). I guess the silverlining is that I have been investing in multi-platform frameworks over the last few years: React Native and Flutter. Both have web support.

Long live the Progressive Web App.