February 24, 2015 Last Updated 7:26 am

Google’s new YouTube Kids app opens to rave reviews from users

But all is not right in the App Store as star developers get special treatment, while publishers continue to wait for Apple to respond one simple request: fix the Newsstand

The launch of a new app can be a bit nerve-racking, as most developers and publishers know. But it helps if the new app is based off an older one, or if many of the features of the new app have been used before. But new apps with new features? It’s a crap shoot.

YouTubeKids-iconSo it is that Google was able to successfully launch its new YouTube Kids app and see things go very well on the first day. User reviews, even inside the Apple App Store, are almost universally positive. A few reviews knocked a star or two off for not having features they would have liked – such as the ability to have multiple sign-in passwords – but otherwise things seemed to go well.

“Today, we’re introducing the YouTube Kids app, the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind,” Google’s Official YouTube Blog said. “The app makes it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore, and is available for free on Google Play and the App Store in the U.S.”

If new launches are a time for being a bit nervous, apparently updates are no better. Yesterday Marco Arment, the developer behind Instapaper, and the founder of The Magazine, fretted on Twitter about his update for Overcast: Podcast Player.

Arment has submitted version 1.1.4 of the app and was waiting for it to appear in the App Store. Early in the day he tweeted:

App review is only defensible if approval delays are kept reasonably short.

Within an hour came another tweet:

Overcast just went In Review. I’m sure this is just a coincidence.


1.1.4 just got approved. You should see it in the App Store over the next few hours.

Few other developers get such treatment from Apple. In fact, I found this totally annoying. For over a year I, and others, have been trying to get the Apple App Store team’s attention for the mess they have made of the Newsstand. I’ve spoken to a number of Apples staffers about the problem, and even got an email from Apple two weeks ago about the Newsstand – yet nothing happens. As I told the last Apple manager, this is costing publishers potentially millions of dollars. And if Apple doesn’t care about that, remember that 30 percent of the money is supposed to be Apple’s.

Nonetheless, Arment gets the star treatment from Apple, and maybe it is deserved, this app update is getting raves from users. “You’d think having almost a thousand beta testers would make me less nervous on release day,” Arment wrote later in the day. “Nope.”

Google also submitted a minor bug fix update for its main iOS YouTube app. Other bug fix updates released yesterday include Adobe Lightroom, the new ESPN app, and the app for WordPress – which admit I never use, but those that do are saying good things about it.

  • Marco Arment 3 years ago

    I appreciate the mention, but you’re misrepresenting what happened with Overcast’s review delay.

    I didn’t (and don’t) get special treatment by mentioning it on Twitter — I’d been mentioning it on Twitter for nearly a week. Nothing changed until I saw a suspicious error message, emailed iTunes Connect support to see if anything was wrong, and got a reply a few days later saying that everything was operating normally. A few hours later, my app went into review and was approved.

    The more likely explanation isn’t that someone at Apple saw my tweets and pushed my update through — it’s that there was really something stuck in iTunes Connect, and when I emailed into their support team, they quietly unclogged it. And when I tweeted about that theory, many developers, big and small, said that they’d had similar experiences.

    I know you probably won’t believe me, but I really don’t get “star treatment” from Apple. It’s a very big company, and in my (few) interactions with people there, almost nobody has ever even seemed like they might have recognized my name. The truth is that our little sphere of Apple bloggers is far smaller and less famous than you may think.

    • D.B. Hebbard 3 years ago

      I appreciate your comment. I wish you DID get special treatment via Twitter because all of us could then do the same.

      But I think it is very true that there are a select group of developers and writers who are treated better by Apple than the vast majority of publishers. Several apps and publications get constant promotion while the vast majority of publishers simply would like Apple to begin to once again maintain the Newsstand categories and fix the “New” area so that scam artists don’t continue to take advantage of the situation.

      I hope you do get special treatment, someone should. But I just want publishers to be treated fairly and not continue to be treated as unwanted guests.

      • Marco Arment 3 years ago

        Want my advice? Get out of Newsstand.

        It’s clearly a very low priority for Apple, and that’s never a good place to be.

        Unfortunately, there’s no good way to get out of Newsstand — only a very bad way.