On Monday, Apple announced that it would let software developers “challenge” the guidelines that govern its app review process and will end its practice of blocking routine bug fixes over minor violations.
Apple’s App Store is the only way for developers to distribute their software to consumers’ iPhones and iPads. The company keeps between 15 percent and 30 percent of revenues generated by developers in the store, making it a key part of its growth strategy as the pace of iPhone upgrades has slowed.
To get into the store, apps undergo a review process governed by Apple guidelines. Some rules, such as requiring apps to offer an option to use Apple’s in-app purchasing and split revenues with the iPhone maker, have become a flashpoint.
Software makers have long been able to appeal Apple’s rulings, but several told Reuters they are frustrated by the fact Apple retains the final say.
A Pennsylvania-based maker of email marketing software, AWeber, went back and forth with Apple for months last year over whether it needed to remove account creation links from its app and add in-app purchasing.
Tom Kulzer, the company’s chief executive, told Reuters that “They’d flag something, we would make some modifications, and they would flag something different.”
Apple said in a news release that it will now provide a “mechanism” for developers to “challenge” the guidelines. A spokesman declined to elaborate.
The company also said it will no longer delay routine bug fixes over App Store guideline violations unless they relate to “legal issues,” instead of requiring fixes at the next major release.
Andy Fowler, chief technology officer at Michigan-based sales software maker Nutshell said that “The fact you don’t learn about it until you’re trying to push a bug fix has a really negative impact on customers.”