Report Details How Apple’s App Store Review Team Works, Their Increasing Workload, More

iOS 11 App Store

A report from CNBC highlights and details Apple’s growing App Store review team, their workflow, increasing workload, and more.

The App Store review team is led by Phil Schiller, SVP of Marketing at Apple, who meets them every week to discuss about apps which infringe on the App Store guidelines or are just controversial in nature.

There’s is also an “executive review board” or ERB which takes important calls regarding apps like whether they should be removed from the App Store or not. They also set the guidelines and policies for the developer relations department at the company to follow. It was this board and Schiller which took the decision to ban the controversial Infowars app from the App Store last year.

As a previous report had detailed, every app is screened manually and through automated tools by the App Store team. This means that their workload has only increased in recent years due to the growing popularity of the App Store.

Inside the app review team, Apple employees manually screen every single iPhone app before they become available to download on Apple’s platforms, the people said. Apple recently opened new App Review offices in Cork, Ireland, and Shanghai, China, according to a person familiar with the matter. The department has added significant headcount in recent years, they added.

One of the good things about Apple is that it has an in-house App Store review team when it could have outsourced such a job to third-party contractors. Every member of the App Store review team works for the company, gets paid hourly, and enjoys the same level of benefits as others including health care.

The day-to-day working of the App Store review team is looked after by Ron Okamoto and an unnamed director who joined the company when Apple acquired TestFlight in 2015.

How the App Store Review Process Works

Members of the review team “claim” apps to review through a portal accessed via App Claim. Then irrespective of whether the app is for the iPhone or iPad, it is tested on an iPad. There are stations available to check Apple Watch and TV apps directly on those devices though.

Reviewers have a daily quota of around 50 to 100 apps, with Apple tracking how many apps a reviewer goes through every hour via an internal app called Watchtower. Members of the App Store review team generally have long workdays, though this extends to 12-hour days when the SLA metric drops substantially.

SLA is service-level agreement in which Apple aims that at least 50 percent of the submitted apps are reviewed within 24-48 hours. This number usually falls significantly when there is a major iOS release around the corner.

Developers who disagree with a decision made by App Review can appeal to a board called the App Review Board, which can change the decision from a lower-level reviewer and is partially composed of reviewers with good track records, people who worked as reviewers said. Sustained appeals can bring an app in front of the Executive Review Board.

Apple ensures to call the developer and inform them if their app was rejected by the review board.

When a decision is overturned on appeal, or a rejection needs to be explained, somebody at Apple calls the developer, reviewers who worked at Apple said. Apple says it makes 1,000 calls per week to developers. Many developers, especially those who have gained public attention for their complaints about App Review, are contacted by a longtime Apple veteran who identifies himself as “Bill,” who doesn’t offer a last name, and whom CNBC is not identifying due to security reasons.

If you want even more intricate details about how the App Store review team works, make sure to check out the in-depth report from CNBC below.

[Via CNBC]