Volitans Software

A Better App Store

The iPhone App Store insanity continues to amaze me. First, there are the inane rejections over stupid little things- like the fact that is possible to download the Kama Sutra in a book reader app. Then Apple fixes that by requiring 17+ rating for any app that can access the internet. Yet Safari has no such warning.

This “let’s protect the children” junk annoys me to know end. It doesn’t actually protect the children- because they will always find a way around it anyway. But it does frustrate normal users and developers. Apple needs to stop being so overbearing in the App Store approval process, as well as the functioning of the iPhone rating system itself.

But this gets back to a bigger problem- reviewing and approving apps in the first place. Craig Hockenberry points out many of the problems with the App Store. Now, there is no doubt the iPhone environment is great, as he shows as well, but I believe the problems outweigh the good. Problems such as too slow approvals affecting bug fixes, no paid upgrades, unclear rules for submissions, and product evaluations inaccurate.

Craig also offers solutions to such problems, including a $999 premium service to help speed approvals along (which Manton Reese rightly derides). However, this is all completely ignoring the root of the problem- only allow Apple approved apps on the iPhone. All of these other solutions are like trying to put a new coat of paint on house whose foundation is sinking.

Apple needs to rethink the entire iPhone application ecosystem. By requiring approvals for all apps on the iPhone, Apple is waiting time and money on those approvals. They need to hire hundreds of approval employees. They waste the time and money of the developers as well, as instead of selling when they are ready, they have to wait an unknown time until its ready, and they don’t even know if it will be. This is not to mention all the problems with iTunes Connect and ensuring certificates are working correctly.

All of the complaints by developers would go away instantly if Apple stopped requiring approval before apps were allowed on the iPhone. Developers could just offer an .ipa package that iTunes could install. Apple of course could still only offer apps on their App Store that they approved of. They could also pull any apps that were malicious, such as viruses or trojans. It would also pretty much kill the jailbreak community, except for the purposes of unlocking.

This environment works great on the Mac, and there is no good reason it couldn’t work great on the iPhone. Hopefully Apple and Steve will wake up and realize this has all been a huge waste of time.

Until then, the iPhone App Store will be a source of complaints, and will not live up to its potential.