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Indie Dev Weekly #31: Strangest App Review Experience



This week the big event was of course Apple's annual fall product launch event, though I didn't watch the livestream. The past two years I haven't watched the Apple events or WWDC live - I'm too old to stay up late now.

Buying the iPhone 15 Pro Max

My current daily driver is an iPhone SE (3rd gen) I got last year, plus an iPhone 11 test device. Both have poor battery life now, so I was set on getting the new iPhone this year no matter what.

I debated between iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, worried the Max would be too big and heavy. I went to try out the iPhone 14 Pro Max in store and it seemed acceptable in size and weight. Wanting no regrets, I decided to go for the 15 Pro Max.

Trade-in for my iPhone 11 is 1200onApplessiteand1200 on Apple's site and 1750 through JD's doorstep buyback, so I booked a pickup with JD. But after inspection they only offered 1330duetocondition(indeednotgreat),belowmyminimum1330 due to condition (indeed not great), below my minimum 1500 so I decided not to sell (even after a full reset and backup the night before!). The iPhone 11 will continue as test device until it dies. I'll trade in the iPhone SE for around $1400 after the 15 Pro Max arrives.

As usual the Apple store was a mess at launch, couldn't get the checkout page to load for half a day on either app or site. By the time I finally got in, the earliest delivery is 4 weeks out. No idea if I can get it earlier. Went with the 256GB iPhone 15 Pro Max, most expensive iPhone I've purchased.


Troubles in App Review

I was proactive in adapting to iOS 17 features this year, but ran into App Review troubles.

Minimal Diary (App Store)

Submitted v1.7.10 Wednesday night but next morning saw it wasn't approved yet. Turns out I forgot to press the "Submit for Review" button, it was stuck in "Ready for Review". Second time I've slipped on this step... Got approved within an hour after properly submitting.

However Zen Flip Clock did not have smooth sailing.

Zen Flip Clock (App Store)

Submitted v4.3.6 Thursday afternoon but rejected within 3 hours. Last time this happened was exactly a year ago.

The rejection demanded I provide a demo account to verify auto-renewing subscription. But I don't have user accounts or subscriptions! I explained this and got rejected again 5 hours later.

This time the reason was not being able to find in-app purchase entry point. I provided step-by-step instructions with screenshots showing how to get to the purchase page.

After that, radio silence for over 2 days which I've never experienced. On Sunday morning I withdrew the previous submission and submitted again, despite warnings this may slow review. Indeed rejected again within hours, but for a different reason than previous rejections.

This time the bug was clear - settings page doesn't open on iPad. I tested and replicated the issue. After debugging, I found the culprit to be .popoverTip in iOS 17 TipKit causing other sheets to not present. Fixed and resubmitted, finally got approved before iOS 17 launch.


In-App Event

From past experience in-app events have negligible impact for me. Wasn't planning on submitting this time either but thought maybe I'd get featured. Sunday night I submitted basic graphics touting the new Standby Mode, for both apps.


Shortly after, Minimal Diary got rejected - first rejection ever for an in-app event. I expected it given the simple graphics, worried about rejection for lack of content. But the actual reason was lacking new features or content!


I replied that we specifically optimized widgets for Standby Mode, and included screenshots of other apps' in-app events touting Standby. Quickly got approved after that.


Anyway, both app updates and in-app events got approved in time for the iOS 17 rush, hoping for a sales boost!