Rejection is the Beginning of Negotiation

April 1, 2020

There are dozens of reasons you might get rejected by the Apple App Review Team - your metadata might have issues, your screenshots might not have the correct placement of the WiFi or battery symbols, or they might just think your app is boring! I have personally had apps rejected and I have also helped friends navigate app rejections. If your app gets rejected, do not give up! Depending on the reviewer, you might get different results for the same app. For example, when I submitted my first update today for Retro Ping, the update was rejected.

It was rejected on the very same day that v1 was approved

The reason for the rejection was stated as “Design: Minimum Functionality 4.2” - essentially, this reviewer did not feel that the app met the minimum standards for what Apple users expected from their apps. Did the reviewer think that my app was… boring?? lackluster?? not enough features??

I looked up this particular guideline on the Apple Developer portal:

4.2 Minimum Functionality Your app should include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website. If your app is not particularly useful, unique, or “app-like,” it doesn’t belong on the App Store. If your App doesn’t provide some sort of lasting entertainment value, it may not be accepted. Apps that are simply a song or movie should be submitted to the iTunes Store. Apps that are simply a book or game guide should be submitted to the Apple Books Store.

Well, that’s vague… The message they sent me in Resolution Center actually contained a bit more info:

We found that the usefulness of your app is limited by the minimal amount of content or features it includes.

In this case, the reviewer basically said that my app was too simple. Wow, I thought, “I’ve seen way simpler apps out there myself…” They continued:

We encourage you to review your app concept and incorporate different content and features that are in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. We understand that there are no hard and fast rules to define useful or entertaining, but Apple and Apple customers expect apps to provide a really great user experience. Apps should provide valuable utility or entertainment, draw people in by offering compelling capabilities or content, or enable people to do something they couldn’t do before or in a way they couldn’t do it before.

Rejection is usually the beginning of a negotiation. Especially with the Apple App Review people. I have been able to win these negotiations before, so I replied and advocted for my app and it’s simplicity as being it’s main feature.

Thanks for the feedback. The brilliance of this app is it’s simplicity. I know that people are already finding it VERY useful since they are at home and they are having network issues. There is no other app I can find that allows users to simply test their network conditions with this level of simplicity. Additionally, the sampling rate is what makes it even more useful as a utility. I’m going to keep improving the features. This is my first app, and I have some really great ideas on how to improve it. I just want my store listing to look better before promoting it - which is why this is such a small update. Please approve this update and I’ll get some more features added to make you guys proud!

Still, my binary was rejected. Instead of appealing to Apple App Review, I submitted a new build with a few new features based off of the feedback I was already getting from users today. I also posted on Facebook and contacted everyone I had messaged on iMessaged in the past 30 days and I asked everyone to leave reviews of the app saying how useful it was, how great it was that it was so simple, and how much they loved it. The reviews take a few hours to show up, but I already have 14 5-star reviews tonight.

By the time they review it, I should have enough reviews to make them re-think the “app is too simple” approach, or I might get another reviewer who has a different perspective. If it gets rejected again, I will appeal. If the appeal gets rejected, then I will request a phone call from the Review Team. I have done this before and they will call and speak to me.

I’ll report back here when negotiations resume in 24-48 hours.


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