Apple Rejects App For Using An Icon That Somewhat Resembles An iPhone

m1uu3mxngm3wbrd9xjw7wo8mo1_400The number of times I get pinged about an iPhone app getting rejected is almost catching up to the number of times I get pinged for ones accepted. Obviously, it’s a very small percentage that get rejected, but developers are getting increasingly annoyed — and for good reason in some cases. Take one of my favorite apps, Instapaper, for example.

Developer Marco Arment submitted version 1.4 of Instapaper several days ago for approval into the App Store. He’s had several other versions approved in the past, but this one was rejected. Why? Well, he decided to use an small icon within the app that looks like it could be an iPhone. Considering this app has been made for the iPhone, it seems a bit silly that you can’t use its likeness in any way. First of all, icons like this can certainly help user experience. Secondly, the icon in question could almost just as easily be a G1, or any number of other smartphones for that matter.

But this is the same problem that derailed the popular game Pocket God, last week, as Arment writes on his blog. And, apparently, it’s not always enforced. It would seem to be a problem that’s only brought up if the person looking over the app happens to notice it.

The bigger issue is the aspect of timing. When an app is rejected, it basically means it must go back to the back of the line for approval, and this may mean another two weeks of waiting around. For certain time-sensitive apps, this can be a crushing blow. For others, it’s just an extreme annoyance, especially if the change needed is very minor. And, in the case of Instapaper, it means lost sales.

As the App Store continues to grow in popularity, you’d think at some point Apple is going to need to devote a larger team to the approval process, particularly when it comes to relations with developers. While certain big name developers have been known to get special treatment when it comes to approvals (though it’s not exactly like Arment is a no-name developer — he’s also the lead developer for Tumblr), there are many more who feel that Apple could care less when it comes to their apps — which in some cases are now their livlihood.

But it’s baby steps for Apple. Shortly after the App Store first launched last summer, Apple would reject apps and not even tell developers why. Now at least it gives a reason — even if some are kind of silly — and forces developers to get back in line.

Arment is now completely redesigning the offending icon before he resubmits, so that Apple doesn’t have an excuse to reject it again.