December 17, 2013 Last Updated 7:43 am

The Apple App Store log jam: delays in app and book releases

iBook Store team states holidays have caused delays in releasing new titles

The last few weeks have found fewer app updates released and more anecdotal evidence that the Apple review team is falling behind in releasing updates and new releases. It is hard to see that this would have had anything to do with the recent App Store meltdown (where the subcategories were broken) or the recent Beyonce release, but today a flood of updates finally appeared.

To know exactly what is going on is difficult as the Apple Press team’s job is to prevent news from coming out, not to actually deliver news. It is the oddest corporate communications scheme of any company – though obviously the executives at Apple seem to like it. But online the conversations about Apple app and book stores continues and its reputation continues to plummet.

A month ago, when we released our digital magazine app, Tablet Publishing, the Apple support page showed that apps submitted made it through Apple’s review process in five days 97 percent of the time – that hasn’t changed, despite complaints that the process is now taking a lot longer than that.

Additionally, an eBook release we have submitted two weeks ago has yet to be reviewed. In the past no eBook review has taken longer than a couple of days, max. A conversation with the iBooks Store team only produced an admission that the review team is “backed up because of the holidays.” Unfortunately, Apple does not give any guidance for its review process for the iBooks Store.

WC-iPad-update-12-17-13Among the media app updates released today was The Weather Channel for iPad which fixed bugs and brought in color backgrounds.

CFO Publishing updated its iPad edition, simply called CFO. The app, which uses the Mag+ platform, was updated for bug fixes, as well.

The Economist for iPad was also updated for minor adjustments and additions, as well.

In fact, once you go through the dozens of updates released one realizes that Apple need not have any involvement in these updates. Why should apps from trusted developers be reviewed at all? The problem with the App Store today is that apps from bogus developers, spamming the store with bad apps, are treated the same as The Economist or other publishers. It is, in fact, apparently easier to get porn magazines from Russia into the App Store today than it is a bug fix update for a major consumer title. The system remains, in other words, completely broken.

Among the other updates are a couple that are a bit unique. Scientific American has been updated to add in iOS 7 support – that’s not unusual. But what is unusual is that the same update also adds in support for those who still are using their iPad 1 devices.

EMAP’s Ground Engineering app has also added in iOS 7 support.

Two other updates of note: Lufthansa has finally joined the other airlines and added Passbook support to its iPhone app; and OpenTable has added localization for Japan and Germany.

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