More App Review WTFs

By Zhenyi Tan

Mittermayr, on Hacker News:

I have a free (!) app (completely 100% free) on the macOS App Store. It’s getting mostly 5-star reviews and has done so for many years. Good. I used to offer the app through my website mainly, but people asked for security (despite it being signed), so I put it on the AppStore, many years ago. I make this app for fun, no profit, it’s 100% free.

I recently pushed an update and Apple rejected it. The reason: They clicked on my website (which they found mentioned in the about section, last tab, bottom line on the Settings screen).

On my website, where I SELL NOTHING, no upgrades, no premium services, etc. — they found at a link to buymeacoffee — I think in the FAQ page, where I address the question of what people can do, if they insist on supporting the project.

Then, Apple said: because of this link, they had to reject the app; I am offering paid services, and doing so, must be done through In-App Purchases. These were third-party donations, no deal involved, the app does not even know about this, there is no advantage to anyone donating anything.

I tried to reason with them over course of a week, but no, if there is ANY WAY for the app user to pay me, despite the APP ITSELF CHANGING IN NO WAY, WHATSOEVER, then I must use IAPs. I was crushed and nothing made sense anymore.

The developer also faced a similar issue with an enterprise SaaS companion app for scanning documents. The app reviewers browsed through the company’s website, found a mention of “subscription” and rejected the app.

The post only got three comments. It seems like a lot of developers have just stopped caring about this issue. You either don’t develop for Apple’s platforms or you implement the damn In-App Purchase.

This makes me wonder. What if we could create a library to handle this issue? Imagine it provides an IAPButton that you could add to your views, and it helps you pass app reviews. We could call the library something like ‘ReviewPasser’.

Later in the comments, the developer said:

They kept on ignoring anything I replied with and just copy/pasted the same response. Disheartening.

This matches my experience as well.