Did Apple just become a whole lot nicer to iPhone devs?

Did Apple just become a whole lot nicer to iPhone devs?

smile030With a new year come New Year’s resolutions: It appears as if Apple’s review teams not only became incredibly fast, they also seem to have changed some processes to the better.

Scattered reports on Twitter indicate, that recent app submissions got approved within hours – yes, you’ve read that right.

While in 2009 developers even turned their backs on the iPhone platform entirely, because of weeks and months of wait time before their apps hit the store, approving within hours has never reportedly happened before.

Another indication for a changed approach occurred to myself: Using private application programing interfaces (APIs) no longer causes a fully automated reject.

The terms of the iPhone Developer Program dictate developers to only make use of Apple approved, public interfaces into the underlying iPhone operating system. Unfortunately, not all of the features of the iPhone can be leveraged by sticking to this rule. Thus, every now and then devs knowingly or even unintentionally access so called private APIs.

In the early months of the App Store, a manual check conducted by the Apple review team members let slip through some of those apps, but many got rejected.

However, in Q4/2009 Apple switched to an automated process. Even a single line of code accessing a non-official API caused an immediate rejection of your submission. No exceptions made.

Your only choice was to solve the problem and resubmit. The wait started all over again.

Today, just some 30+ hours after submitting an update to one of my apps to review, I received the ready-to-go email. So, rapid approval happened to me, too.

Furthermore, the email stated:

“Thank you for submitting your update to […] to the App Store.  During our review of your application we found it is using private APIs, which is in violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement section 3.3.1; ‘3.3.1 Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs.’ While your application has not been rejected, it would be appropriate to resolve this issue in your next update.

It’s this last sentence, highlighted from us in bold, that might mark a change in strategy. Instead of bluntly rejecting the app entirely, Apple decided to publish it to the App Store but kindly asks me to fix the issue on the next update. That’s exactly the way to do it right.

As usual with all things related to these internal Apple processes, none of this has been officially confirmed.

Are you an iPhone developer who queued for review very recently? Did you experience a similar increase in speed or a significant change in Cupertino’s “review culture”? Let us know in the comments, please!

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