Sunday, July 06, 2014

How to Handle - iPhone, iPad and Android App - Part 2

Go back to How to Handle - iPhone, iPad and Android App - Part 1

Focusing on the quality of your work

There is one thing that transcends any platform considerations, and that is the quality of your work. The public seems to pick up on quality and embrace apps that are loved by their creators.

Hopefully you will be inspired by success stories like Alice for the iPad (which was made by just two people in their bedrooms) and equip yourself with the skills to build a software business for yourself. This is the new age of the independent designer craftsperson. Apple, Google – and soon Microsoft – give tiny teams access to the power of a global retail store.

Now that the world is in the grip of mass unemployment, civil unrest and general dissatisfaction with the old corporate structures and the financial elite, building apps is one of the many ways that artists and other workers can join creative forces to create smaller, independent and profitable companies with vision and morals.

The future looks exciting, so keep your eye on the quality of your work and the rest will follow. Don’t let your attention waver from the most important task at hand: To create an app that is at once beautiful, functional, original, and desirable. Be proud of your work.

Dealing with rejection from Apple and Google

Contrary to popular belief, both Apple and Google have rejected, and removed, apps from their online stores. Apple is certainly more likely to reject your app – this is because Apple concerns itself not only with the content of your app, but the quality and depth of its execution. Apple will reject an app for crashing, Google will not. Apple will reject an app for replicating functionality in the iOS operating system, while Google have no such policy. In short, the Apple App Store is more like an expensive restaurant where the MaĆ®tre d’ turns away scruffy looking or badly behaved guests at the door, while Google Play is like a bar in the Wild West, where almost anything goes, good and bad.

It’s relatively easy to avoid rejection from either app store:

Don’t include anything controversial or sexually suggestive in your apps. Most of the time, common sense is enough to keep the app police SWAT team from ram-raiding your party. However, sometimes Apple will reject an app for obscure, or indecipherable reasons. For example, the original Alice for the iPad was rejected from the App Store because it did not re-orientate itself when the iPad was rotated. Unfortunately, it would be impossible for the app to function properly if it re-orientated itself when the device was rotated – the nature of physics simulations requires that gravity remains a force in a single direction, switching orientation would shift the influence of the simulated ‘gravity’ and make the app extremely bizarre to operate.

This was a case of an Apple reviewer sticking very strictly to the user interface guidelines, which suggest that apps should re-orientate themselves on rotation (and, indeed, many of them should, but Alice is one of many exceptions). However, all our team needed to do to reverse Apple’s decision was to explain to the reviewer that our app was specifically designed not to re-orientate on rotation. Once the problem was explained, the app was accepted. Luckily this is a common experience:

In most cases, if your appis rejected for a reason that seems illogical, you can argue your case. Having said that, most apps are rejected for good reason, whether related to usability, or simply to instability (it keeps crashing), and – with Apple at least – you can expect to be held to very high standards on the quality of your work.

By comparison, you’d have to do something clearly obscene or downright destructive to get rejected from Google Play. Because of this, we’ll focus on Apple’s App Store and the problems that may lie in wait for you there. There are several ways to get your app rejected, but the top reason – by far – is if your app crashes the iOS device it’s being tested on. Apps that crash on iOS are deemed totally unacceptable for distribution. To make matters more complex, your app must fit its description, if you’ve failed to add features the app claims to have, or if your app steals user data, Apple may well smash it underfoot. For more serious infractions, you also risk losing your developer license.

As a developer, you’ll also run into issues if your apps have any of Apple’s existing software. Take a look at your iPhone and you’ll find its been packed with a load of pre-installed software that make up the key functions of the phone: An app for making phone calls, sending SMS messages, navigating maps etc. If you copy any of those apps, you may be chucked out of the party. To make matters even more cloudy, this rule isn’t enforced religiously and you may find that your app gets through just fine, only to be rejected later when Apple’s interest is piqued.

We’ve only touched on possible reasons for rejection, but don’t let this post scare you, most apps are not rejected from the store, and you can probably anticipate 99% of rejections. Keep things above board, friendly and well-polished and you should have no problems. If you do run into trouble, be aware that Apple is not closed to dialogue and, ultimately, common-sense tends to prevail.

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