Apple Rejected Approximately 35% of Apps Submitted to App Store Between 2017 and 2019

The ongoing Epic Games v. Apple trial continues to provide insight into Apple's App Store processes, with documents today offering up details on the number of apps submitted to the ‌App Store‌ and rejected by Apple's review processes.

app store blue banner
Apple received an average of five million app submissions per year between 2017 and 2019, and between 33 and 35 percent of apps submitted were rejected by Apple's review team. On average, there were 1.7 million apps rejected per year, though the rejection rate was closer to 40 percent in 2020 based on trial testimony.

app store rejections
Apple's documentation suggests that the ‌App Store‌ sees 100,000 ‌App Store‌ submissions per week, which are dealt with by 500 human experts that Apple has on hand. Prior to getting to a human review, apps are analyzed by Apple-designed tools to check for malware and policy violations.

A testing tool called Mercury runs through static and dynamic analysis processes, with the tool allowing Apple to see inside apps to check for hidden code or abuse, and there are other review tools that Apple has nicknamed "Magellan" and "Columbus." After automated testing, apps receive human oversight.

Dynamic testing includes everything from battery usage to file system access and privacy requests to access device hardware like the camera and microphone, while static analysis checks app size, entitlements, in-app purchases, keywords, descriptions, and more.

In 2015, Apple discussed acquiring SourceDNA, a company that made a tool to allow companies to see the code inside apps. Apple did end up purchasing the company and using its engineers to design a new tool for app oversight.

Interestingly, Apple documents depict the workstation of one of its human reviewers, featuring a desktop with an iMac, MacBook Pro, multiple iOS devices, several displays, game controllers, and more.

apple human review
Apple marketing director Trystan Kosmynka was questioned for most of the morning, and Epic lawyers visited a favorite talking point - ‌App Store‌ mistakes. Kosmynka was grilled about some of the apps that slip through the review process, such as an app about school shooting that he said in an email he was "dumbfounded" had been missed.

On this topic, Kosmynka was asked if the app review process is unnecessary because of the mistakes that are sometimes made, but said that all it means is that Apple has to "continuously be better." He said that Apple works diligently to close loopholes, and that without app review, iOS would be a "free for all" that would be "incredibly dangerous to customers, to kids."

The Epic vs. Apple trial will continue for another two weeks, with the first week set to wrap up today. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives are expected to testify during the third week.

Top Rated Comments

G5isAlive Avatar
39 months ago
Not sure I follow Epic's logic here... if mistakes are occasionally made that means throw out the whole thing?!
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Luna Murasaki Avatar
39 months ago

Apple marketing director Trystan Kosmynka was questioned for most of the morning, and Epic lawyers visited a favorite talking point - App Store mistakes. Kosmynka was grilled about some of the apps that slip through the review process, such as an app about school shooting that he said in an email he was "dumbfounded" had been missed.

On this topic, Kosmynka was asked if the app review process is unnecessary because of the mistakes that are sometimes made, but said that all it means is that Apple has to "continuously be better." He said that Apple works diligently to close loopholes, and that without app review, iOS would be a "free for all" that would be "incredibly dangerous to customers, to kids."
My house was robbed because I forgot to lock my front door on Tuesday. So I physically removed all the locks on my house!

How can anyone possibly make an argument this stupid?!
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Graphikos Avatar
39 months ago

Geez, that is 200 apps per person to review per week! Glad that is not my job! (5 apps/hour, 1 app every 12 minutes)

So according to this, every apple App reviewer has to review roughly 40 apps a day every day, year after year.
No wonder there's so much junk in the App Store. Obviously a lot of it gets rubber stamped with approval without really being scrutinized.

200 apps a week per reviewer, 40 apps a day, based on an 8 hour work day, that’s an average of 12 minutes to review each app. That’s extremely impressive to have as decent QC as they do.
As noted, "Prior to getting to a human review, apps are analyzed by Apple-designed tools to check for malware and policy violations."

I imagine the automated tools weed out a lot before they even get to human reviewers lessening the workload. A lot of apps probably just get rejected for simple things that computers can easily check for.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Realityck Avatar
39 months ago

Apple marketing director Trystan Kosmynka was questioned for most of the morning, and Epic lawyers visited a favorite talking point - App Store mistakes. Kosmynka was grilled about some of the apps that slip through the review process, such as an app about school shooting that he said in an email he was "dumbfounded" had been missed.

On this topic, Kosmynka was asked if the app review process is unnecessary because of the mistakes that are sometimes made, but said that all it means is that Apple has to "continuously be better." He said that Apple works diligently to close loopholes, and that without app review, iOS would be a "free for all" that would be "incredibly dangerous to customers, to kids."
You can have your choice unsafe free for all, or a safe environment for customers.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tarkeybear Avatar
39 months ago
Geez, that is 200 apps per person to review per week! Glad that is not my job! (5 apps/hour, 1 app every 12 minutes)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BornAgainMac Avatar
39 months ago
I am going thru my apps and rejecting them too that get approved by Apple. If an app requires me to sign up, subscribe, shows ads, or interface sucks, links that take me to Safari, or functionality poor then it gets deleted. The Apple Arcade games also increased my expectations on how a game should look and play. Those games are more like the original games that started the app store that you would pay money just up front once.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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