I noticed a couple tweets last month about fast, less than 24-hour review times for iPhone app submissions. After I tweeted it, a whole bunch of other people came forward with similar stories. Apps going from submission to ready-for-sale in 12 to 24 hours.
The App Store is still fundamentally broken in many ways, possibly beyond repair depending on who you talk to, but there’s no question that fast review times are great for developers. Even if the progress stops with this, it’s a significant improvement to the App Store process.
Is it just for established devs? Just for minor bug fixes? It’s not the latter, since some of these were brand new apps. The question is whether this was a change for a certain class of developers and apps or whether it represents an overall speed-up to the review process, and maybe even a hint at prepping for the iPad launch.
Review times are a big deal and they’ve gone mainstream. Opera Mini has a very public “count up”:http://my.opera.com/community/countup/ widget as part of their extensive pre-approval hype. You can tell from the demos that Opera put a huge amount of work into polishing Mini before submitting it, to remove as many potential objections as possible, and to get users excited before it ships. A high-profile rejection now would erase any goodwill that Apple has built up recently.
I know some developers are nervous with openly discussing or blogging about their relationship with Apple, but I think more people should follow Opera’s lead. By being vocal on the App Store’s strengths and shortcomings, we force Apple to be more transparent. Bad press has a proven history of leading to overturned rejections. The narrative of the last few months, to me, is that the App Store is getting better, and I don’t think it would be happening without the critics.