A new website can go live almost as soon as the design and development is finished. This is because the website owner is in control of the hosting environment. However, mobile apps are different. The mobile app ecosystem is a walled garden, where Apple and Google (and Microsoft ;-)) have full control over their platforms with a strict approval process. Apps are checked for various things, such as viruses, bugs, inappropriate content, quality, functionality and lots of other criteria.
In the past few weeks, we’ve noticed that Apple’s review process has sped up dramatically, with updates being sent in a matter of hours and new apps reviewed within a day. This is a great improvement and means that apps can be launched a lot quicker. You still need to follow the process, but it makes a great difference in time!
Typically, when an app is submitted to the Apple App Store, it joins a queue to be reviewed by an actual person before it can go live. Historically, Google has been different by allowing developers to upload apps without the approval process. However, in March 2016, it was reported that this has now changed and apps are also reviewed by staff. It is worth mentioning that Apple and Google can change their policies any time without warning which can delay the review process if the app doesn’t match their latest requirements.
From our experience, it’s taken from a couple of days up to 6 months (which was definitely the worst case!) to get an app approved and live on the Apple App Store, especially if it was a gambling product that needed to meet certain regulations. Needless to say, this has had significant impact on our development schedules, particularly for businesses working to targets and specific dates.
A good example of this would be apps for the Euros. The best time for a Euros app to go live would be at the end of the Premier League season. So, realistically, in the old world, you’d need to submit to Apple at the start of April. With an average app project taking 18 weeks, this means the app design and build would need to start before Christmas. As we know from experience, most people aren’t thinking about the Euros before Christmas, which leads to disappointment when in March, we’re asked if we can get a fantastic new app built for the Euros!
We would always suggest to our clients to leave 4-6 weeks, depending on the industry, for a brand new app to be submitted and approved by Apple. If you’re really in a rush, you can apply to Apple to expedite the submission, however the tech giant can always refuse that too, and in our experience, sometimes, you have to almost beg for their help.
On the other hand, Google tends to respond in a day or two, which has been a lot quicker than Apple. This meant that iOS app development needed to start earlier to factor in the review time so both apps could be launched simultaneously.
As we specialise in gambling app development, which is heavily regulated and Apple has a specific policy for this, we always make sure the reviewers see that both us and our client have the appropriate license to do this. Otherwise, not having a license can hinder the review process and potentially put a stop to your project.
With the latest improvements in Apple’s review speed, we can now reduce the time planned for development and the approval period, and launch the app much sooner. Hopefully, Apple will address review lead times at the WWDC next week (watch this space for our reviews!).