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App Store reviews and an odd request

June 12th, 2020 · 2 Comments

Submitting your app to Apple for sale on the Mac App Store is always a roll of the dice. You never know if your app will sail through the App Store review process in a matter of hours, or if you’ll be dealt a setback that takes you days to resolve.

These days App Store review delays and outcomes are pretty good. There’s still the occasional significant setback, if Apple decides to disallow the use of certain system resources that were previously permitted. Finding replacement solutions and rewriting your code can be non-trivial. But mostly there are minor changes to make, if any.

During a recent App Store review, we were given a strange request: please submit a video of your app using the Touch Bar. In all the years we’ve been releasing on the App Store we’ve never been asked for any kind of video before.

We do indeed support the Touch Bar in Nisus Writer, but its basic usage is obvious; you press buttons to take built-in actions like creating a new document tab. Some of our available Touch Bar items are actually straight from Apple and macOS, like the ability to fix spelling mistakes in your text. It didn’t make any sense that Apple would need a video to confirm this. They could simply test the Touch Bar during review like any other feature.

The only aspect of Touch Bar support in Nisus Writer Pro that’s more involved is a unique feature that lets you create custom Touch Bar items. You can turn any menu into a new Touch Bar icon.

This is nice if you have certain commands that you want to access frequently.

Whatever the reason for Apple’s unexpected request, there was no getting around it. You can’t release an app on the App Store without approval. We were going to have to make this video.

I don’t currently have access to a MacBook with a Touch Bar, now that I’m working from home full time because of COVID-19. Luckily there are other ways to interact with the Touch Bar, like the simulator in Apple’s developer tools, or the Touché utility app that allows anyone to use the Touch Bar on any Mac.

Ultimately it didn’t take long to produce the video and pass review, but it was strange. Jumping through Apple’s hoops and satisfying their fancies is just something you have to accept if you’re developing apps for their devices.

Tags: General · Martin · Nisus Writer Pro

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jay // Jan 15, 2021 at 12:03 am

    Same here.. how strange!

    One would expect Apple to be enthusiastic when apps add dedicated Touch Bar support.
    Instead recent experience with app review shows they’re rather hypersensitive.

    Did this come up again in subsequent reviews..?

  • 2 martin // Jan 15, 2021 at 9:28 am

    @Jay: After Apple’s initial request for a video showing our app’s Touch Bar features it did not come up again.

    I never did learn why a video was needed. If you launch Nisus Writer with default settings you’ll see the available Touch Bar items right away. There’s no mystery in how to use it. Maybe the video request was a ruse? A sneaky way to get developers to spend more time thinking about and testing their Touch Bar functionality? I really don’t know.

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