Before I begin a tirade, I want to make a few things clear. Being an Apple developer is great. I love the platforms and Apple’s dedication to continually improving them. They build awesome new features for us to implement in creative ways. I adore the user base who is willing to pay for quality software and help support people like me who enjoy developing apps. I enjoy the benefits of an ecosystem where reliability and dependability of the OS and hardware is an important feature. With all of these wonderful things, you would think Apple’s most important connection to developers and the health of their apps would be spectacular.
That connection to developers is iTunes Connect – and it is one of the worst apps I have ever used.
For reference, I am speaking of the abysmal iOS app; the website has it’s own odd quirks but it is, for the most part, useable. Apple only makes one in-house app that is targeted at developers. iTunes Connect is the place to check how your app is doing. It features important information for developers such as stats about downloads, updates and sales. It also is essential in letting you know when one of your app’s updates is under review or, in unexpected circumstances, rejected and for what reason.
Unfortunately, iTunes Connect seemingly gets worse with each update that it receives. If you read the reviews on the App Store, they are overwhelmingly 1 star. The app is riddled with bugs. Many developers rightly comment that if this were an app submitted to Apple for review it would most certainly be rejected. I’m going to condense the rest of this article in to my three main gripes with iTunes Connect. These are the unforgivable sins that have driven me to use App Annie, which is only marginally better.
1. 7D vs Week View / No 1D
For reference, previous versions of iTunes Connect had a 1D view, which was actually the default. The 1D or 1 Day view showed information from the previous day. It was because the reason 90% of developers open this app every morning is to check their sales from the previous day. In an update this summer, Apple switched the 1D totals to a rolling 7 day total. The tab still displayed 1D, so many developers were rightly worried about iTunes Connect giving them incorrect sales numbers.
To fix this, Apple updated the label to say 7D. Changing the label doesn’t fix the lack of functionality. I don’t recall there being a huge (or any) demand for rolling 7 Day Totals – most developers however would love to see the return of the 1D totals. For a lot of developers, this breaks the app; it no longer serves the purpose for which they downloaded it. The one saving grace for Apple is that their primary competitor in this space is App Annie, and their app is also pretty awful.
We haven’t even touched on how many developers are confused on what the difference is between 7D and 1 Week and why those numbers are different. It’s very un-Apple like to have software that needs to be explained in this much detail.
2. TouchID Broken
A while ago, Apple introduced TouchID verification to iTunes Connect. No one complained about not typing in their developer password every time they opened the app. It was an awesome quality of life improvement for users and totally sped up the process of checking your daily sales, back when you could do such a thing. Then they went ahead and broke it.
For the last two updates, TouchID has been horribly unreliable. After random intervals iTunes Connect will verify your TouchID information and then also ask you to type in your password. In my opinion, this sort of defeats the purpose of using TouchID. It usually happens at least daily, sometimes multiple times per day. This is bad enough on its own, but combined with the disappearance of 1D statistics and forcing the users to drill into the app to get single day sales, it multiplies the frustration many developers feel.
3. Speed, Bugs, Features and Lack of Communication
There are various other problems with iTunes Connect that frustrate developers daily. In recent updates, the speed of the app has noticeably decreased. Considering numerous features have been removed and/or broken and not added, we should be seeing speed increases. Other features, such as reading user reviews of an app, have been broken for as long as I can remember. The reviews for the latest version always return nothing, and only by browsing each country’s entire list of reviews can you see if customers have left you a review. This is crucial if, like iTunes Connect, the customer has left information in their review that shows a critical bug. Notifications of new reviews would be nice, but that seems like asking for an awful lot right now.
The simple traffic light dots that show your app’s status – Green for Ready for Sale, Red for Rejected, and Yellow for everything else – tend to get stuck on yellow too. I’ve noticed that multiple apps of mine always show the yellow icon, despite being Approved and Ready for Sale. Despite primarily being a cosmetic bug, more than once I’ve drilled in the menu thinking something was wrong with my app. The takeaway is now I don’t trust the indicator, so if something really is wrong, I won’t know. I’ve become used to it being broken, and that is an awful way to interact with software.
Finally I’ve never seen any posts on the developer blog from Apple that acknowledge they are aware there is a problem with Connect. Surely someone has noticed the 1-Star rating and terrible reviews. There is no explanation as to why they removed 1D sales; why TouchID is constantly logging us out, why the app has so many bugs and most importantly if they even care to fix any of it.
App Status : Rejected
As a developer, I know the importance of fixing bugs and of delivering updates. I’m also try to make products my users will want to use. Apple makes many apps for iOS that are great and I hope that soon iTunes Connect becomes one of them. Developers work very hard to make the Apple ecosystem the best in the world. The least Apple could do would be to provide us a client to make that process easier.