Patience is a requirement for iPhone app developers

Following the release of my 2nd iPhone app - Words - I thought I'd give some insight into the approval process.

Words took around 7 weeks to get approved and I've had some real fun getting this one accepted. The premise of the app is simple - it's designed to find words to use in Scrabble-type games, Crosswords and anagrams. Initially it was rejected beacause:
  1. It had some naughty words in it and
  2. The user couldn't display the complete, unfiltered list of words from the dictionary
My response to this was:
  1. It's based on the words from the official Scrabble dictionary - if I left them out, it would be an incomplete list and users would complain and
  2. What use is an unfiltered list of nearly a quarter of a million words to anyone? Is someone really going to sit there and scroll through the entire list?
I was told to re-submit the app, which I duly did. A couple of weeks later, I was told the app was rejected because:
  1. It had some naughty words in it and
  2. The user couldn't display the complete list of words
That's not a copy/paste error. They rejected it for the same reasons, so I gave them the same explanation and was told to resubmit the app, which I did once again. Another 2 weeks or so goes by and I get another rejection because "The user couldn't display the complete list of words". Well, at least I was down to just one problem.

I emailed them back giving the same explanation for the app behaving this way and was told, you guessed it, to resubmit the app. On the third attempt, it got accepted, in exactly the same form in which I first submitted it. Given that I haven't changed the binary since day one, I can only assume that it depends on who checks it and what mood they're in, as clearly there aren't any hard and fast rules here. This makes it a pretty frustrating experience. A week or two of development time, followed by 7 weeks of waiting is not ideal.

Part of the problem is that you respond to the rejection email with a reference number, but I wouldn't mind betting the next person who reviews it doesn't always read the email chain and hence wouldn't be aware of the previous correspondence regarding the app. I'm only guessing, but it's about the only explanation I can come up with.

So, if you're thinking of writing apps for the iPhone, make sure you have plenty of patience - you'll need it.