For the consumer, the iTunes App Store is better than the Android marketplace because it is a “curated” market, which means that there are people who actually review apps to make sure that they are acceptable for publishing.
Now, this is a double-edged sword, because on the one hand, it should ensure a certain minimal level of functionality. But in reality, it is an imperfect process and is also an evolving set of guidelines. (Translation: moving target!)
In the past few months, since around the time of WWDC 2011, the App Reviewers seem to have gotten much more stringent.
I’ve done a lot of development work for clients, and here are two of the most common reasons for rejection that I’ve seen. So, before starting a project, I usually advise them of the possibility that their app may be rejected.
RSS Feed Readers
A lot of people assume that they can simply take their website or blog and create an iOS app and instantly reap the benefits of an additional target market. While this may have been true in the earlier years, it definitely is no longer true. For the most part, standalone RSS feed readers will be rejected. There are always innovative ways to work around these rejections, but it can really rattle you to the core to get an email that says something like, “(Name of your app): App Submission Feedback” instead of the typical “Your app status is Processing for the App Store.”
The good news, however, is that it’s not impossible to get even your personal blog on the App Store. The actual solution may be slightly different depending on the app type, but typically the solution involves providing some sort of functionality that only an app can provide and something that a mobile optimized website can’t provide. (I’ve done so successfully myself for a couple of clients, so I know for sure that it can be done. Obviously, this is something that I can divulge only to clients.)
Another common reason for rejection is also related to porting website content or their marketing collateral into an iOS app. This is a common pitfall, because a lot of small to medium sized companies register for an Apple Developer account just to gain a presence on the App Store. While this seems to be more of a hit-or-miss situation than RSS feed apps (which seem to be nearly 100% rejections), it may be better to add other features that take advantage of iOS device capabilities ahead of time.
Do you see a pattern? The App Store is trying hard to differentiate itself from the web by ensuring that the apps are not just websites in a new skin. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should forget about publishing an app altogether if you have a blog that you want to turn into an app.
Just as the saying goes, there really is more than one way to skin a cat. There are many ways of adding in specific features so that an app can pass the review process. Hopefully your development provider is experienced enough to help you navigate the waters. It can’t hurt to ask any potential providers upfront if they have any knowledge about whether or not your app idea might get rejected.