‘Binary Rejected’ — A Developers Worst Nightmare

After months of developing, dedication and dark rooms you finally complete that last task on Trello and your ready to submit your binary to the App Store for review. You build out, wait for that progress bar to trickle along… And then, just like that it’s gone! Now the future of your app is out of your hands the only thing you can do is pray to the Apple gods and wait with baited breath for approval.

You wake up several days later and just like every day prior you check your inbox with sleep still in your eye to see if you have made it, and then you see it: ‘Binary Rejected’, and the nightmare begins…

After months of developing an app called VidGo I was subject to this horror. The app apparently violated several codes according to Apple’s Bible of guidelines. After many frustrated messages from me and ominous messages back (from Apple) I submitted a second build to try and remedy the issues, but once again was it was rejected. This went of for literally months and it got to the point where there was no point spending anymore time persuing and decided to cut my losses with VidGo. VidGo now sits on my hard drive gathering binary dust. Now, your probably thinking I was my own fault for developing an app that knowingly allowed YouTube videos to be downloaded with such ease it was obviously going to be rejected, and I would now agree with you. But, still the fact remains that so many apps do a similar thing, why was my app rejected but others (like Video Downloader by Appneon) continue to climb the App Store chart? A simple question I was entitled to, but even after further probing I never received an answer.

In the mists of all this I moved on to my next project; All Hours. All Hours used location data from Google places to offer suggestions on places to visit based on their opening times – a useful tool for those who like to stay out late. I was 100% this time my hard work wouldn’t be subject to the same fate as VidGo… But once again there was the dreaded email sat mocking me in my inbox one misty London morning. The app apparently ‘actively’ encouraged drinking as ‘bars’ was one of our categories so the parental rating had to be changed to indicate references of alcohol. Luckily this didn’t require us submitting another build but it did mean another week of our app not on the App Store. Almost 2 weeks later we finally got the app approved and it’s now live and available for download (https://appsto.re/gb/B0CQ7.i ). The problems didn’t stop here however – in fact it happened in every subsequent build because of some very minor reason. (one reason for rejection was because All Hours apparently promoted illegal activity which did cause a few laughs at our end). Because of this every single build was delayed up to 3 weeks.

In all cases mentioned I DO understand the issues as to why the build was rejected, however as I speak to more and more developers the issue is not with the guidelines them self (although many are ridiculous) it’s the ominous feedback, responses and reasoning, they don’t seem to help and they don’t offer advice on how to fix a problem. Not only that but it’s the response time, a reply to a message takes at least 48 hours in my own experience, and now review time has gone up from 6 days to at least 10!

Apple actively advertises how they support developers (like seen in one of their latest commercials ‘The App Effect’) but more often than not it seems they screw developers over for the slightest thing. My story is just one in thousands, maybe even millions that have been subject to a similar fate at least once in their apps life time. Some Apps/Games have even been approved to then later get pulled without warning due to Apple spitting it’s dummy out at a later date. This was the case just recently as hundreds of apps were pulled just for showing or referencing the the confederate flag regardless of the apps context. This resulted in many great games and educational apps being removed overnight.

Don’t get me wrong the review process is a nessecary evil as otherwise the AppStore would be littered by poorly built and dangerous apps but rejecting an app because it advertises an Android version (a legitimate reason for rejection) is madness! If Apple continues to make developers life this difficult then eventually developers will walk away. So I reach out to you persoanlly apple on behalf of us hard working developers, please fix the review process!