I was going to write about how awful the current App Store review times are. I’d been waiting for an important update for 9 days, which seems about normal these days. I frankly expected it to take up to 14 days, which has unfortunately been more common lately. Then I got that happy email with those three magic words.
Over the past 28 months I’ve had 58 “Ready For Sale” emails from iTunes Store (I just counted). Even though 9 days sounds like a nice short time to wait, if you use it as an average review time, that’s 522 days for my 58 submissions. That’s about a year and a half. 522 days that you have to stage bug fixes and enhancements, work on other projects, hold your breath, and cross your fingers. It seems like a bit of a waste of time doesn’t it?
The system appears broken. Rather than attempt to fix the problem with lengthening review times, Apple has tweaked the status history to make it feel like the process has been improved somehow. Remember how the binary was uploaded and sat there for days, then got reviewed and approved pretty much within hours (figure 1)?
This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Nowadays your app is more than likely to go straight into “In Review” and sit there for a week or more. Did the process that took hours previously become one that takes days now? Seriously? (figure 2)
Given that the process is still basically a black box, we can only conclude that there’s an emphasis at Apple to get the updates into “In Review” state regardless of when they will eventually get reviewed. Maybe this helps with their stated review status percentages on the Developer News and Announcements site. Perhaps it would be more helpful to show the average review times instead?
As for my apps, the last few had overall submission->approved times of 9 days, 10 days, 8 days, 11 days, and 8 days. That’s an average of 9.2 days, so my email today came right on schedule, it turns out. I should have planned for it. Today’s update? It’s for the free iPad app reMovem 2, and it includes iOS 4.2 compatibility (hope you are thinking about that) and 2 cool new themes designed by Mike Berg of @weheartgames fame. Please check it out on iTunes or the web.
I’d love to hear from other developers with their submit-wait-suffer-approved tales. Are my wait times average or out of whack with your experiences?