A Well-Timed Letter of Rejection


We’re no strangers to silly app rejection emails from Apple, but this one seems to take the cake (at least in our opinion). Convertbot 1.4 was rejected because our icon for Time is too similar to one of Apple’s default resource icons for History/Recent. They say users might get confused that our Time category might mean History or Recent. Now I might be able to understand if this happened when we first submitted Convertbot, but there have been multiple releases already so why is this a show-stopper now? It does worry me that our product has to be held back for another 1-2 weeks for something so trivial.

So what’s the plan? I need to redo the icon, I suppose. But Convertbot icons were meant to use as little lines/shapes as possible to identify the category. I feel that our current icon represents time as simply as possible. So how can we make Time different? What if it’s set at 9 o’clock instead of 3? Is that acceptable? The big problem here is the only way I can get that answer is by making the change, resubmitting the app, and waiting another week or 2 for Apple’s verdict.

Update, a day later…

We understand that the icon is very similar to their resource for History. However, icons are not logos and Apple understands this. This has nothing to do with intellectual property as some of you have mentioned. This has everything to do with an icon Apple has designated to mean one thing and us using it for another.

If we used it in the same context as how Apple uses it, there probably wouldn’t have been a post about it. I just don’t see how anyone could mistake a clock icon as history/recent in the context of how we are using it. This is a conversion app and the icon is surrounded by other icons used to describe a conversion category. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, but I think context is key here. Besides, it’s not like we used their exact resource or even copied it intentionally. This happens to be the simplest way to draw a clock.

Don’t forget these decisions aren’t made by the designers at Apple who wrote these guidelines. The app reviewers are probably just following protocol and don’t have the design experience to make a proper judgement call on something like this. I’m also not saying Apple’s designers would have let this through. Who knows what they think about this. It’s just something to keep in mind. Some of you are giving the reviewers more credit than they deserve.

Also, this post has nothing to do with fighting Apple on this. I made a quick change to the icon and we resubmitted already. If they reject it again, we’ll change it again and submit again. The wait time is the primary reason for the rant. For little things like this, they should just approve the app and send us a note that we must fix it before our app will be approved again.

Any developer for the iPhone/Touch knows that Apple is a black box when it comes to this. Their rejection emails tend to be very vague and cold. No screenshots with clear explanations. It took us 10 minutes just to decipher the email and figure out what we did wrong in the first place. We’ve replied to these emails in the past with more questions and it took days to get another vague answer that basically said the same thing as the first email. There’s no phone number that says, “Call me if you have anymore questions or concerns about this”.

So why did we post this? Because developers need to be heard. Whether you agree with Apple or not, is not the point. The point is, the whole app approval system is a painful process and we felt the need to rant about it this time. Thanks for listening.