The Rise Of HTML5 Web Apps And Fall Of The App Store

Apple App Store misery

A lot of things have happened since my last post. My attempts to get my App into the App Store has been a bitter disappointment and a change of direction towards a universal HTML5 Web App.

My Android AIR app has been published in both the Google Play store and the Amazon Android Store for many months now and it has also been extensively tested on iPhones. On the face of it I thought that it would be a simple step to getting it approved in the Apple App Store and available for use on iPhones but I could not have been more wrong.

After jumping through several hoops just to get the App binary uploaded to the App Store I waited for a response from the Apple reviewer. It’s worth bearing in mind that Apple had already taken $99 from me to allow the App to be tested on designated iPhones. Unless you Jailbreak your test phone there is no other way to run an App on an iPhone outside of the Apple Development prison.

I had expected the App to be rejected the first time. There was sure to be something that I would need to tweak I thought. I was surprised and appalled at the responses that I received however. This is what they said:

“We found the user interface of your app is not of sufficient quality to be appropriate for the App Store. Apps that provide a poor user experience are not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.

Specifically, we noticed your app does not take advantage of iOS platform. It would be appropriate to add iOS specific functionality and UI in order to enhance the user experience.

Please evaluate whether you can make the necessary revisions to improve the user experience of your app.”

Ok, what does this mean? What is wrong with the interface? It seems fine to me and has been through many revisions as a result of end user testing and peer review processes. What parts of the iOS platform specifically should I be taking advantage of?

Of course I asked the Apple reviewers to clarify only to receive responses that were just as cryptic. The exchange of communications went on for some time and it was clear that I was going to get nowhere so I asked them a direct question:

 “Is it possible to achieve the changes that you require with an App developed using Adobe AIR bearing in mind that I am only able to add native iOS functionality to the extent allowed by the AIR framework?”

They responded:

“Thank you for your response. After reviewing your reply, it seems your question would be best addressed by Apple Developer Technical Support , who can provide discrete code-level assistance.”

This is the point at which I decided to stop banging my head against a brick wall. I realized that Apple has recently tightened up their acceptance criteria and that there was very little chance that my cross platform Adobe AIR App was ever going to get approved. On top of that it is clear that any App in the Apple store is under constant threat of being removed at Apple’s sole discretion. So even if I managed to get the App approved there is no guarantee that it would remain available to iPhone and iOS users .

HTML5 Web Apps are the way forward

If I can’t get a native App into the Apple Store then I will build a Web App using HTML5 technologies instead. Done properly a Web App will work on any HTML5 compatible smartphones including the iPhone and it can be made to look similar to a native App. This approach requires no approval from any smartphone manufacturer and can be run directly from my servers. This is a huge advantage. In my next post I will give you some brief details of how I am approaching the HTML5 version of the App.