App Store review and rule-of-law

The App Store review time is a contentious issue for iOS developers. As a user of iOS, I like it, because it means that I never fear downloading an app, knowing it has at least been vetted for the worst offenses. As a developer, the biggest obstruction to making iOS development as responsive to change as Web development is undoubtedly App Store review times. Here’s Dave Verwer from iOS Dev Weekly:

So, is App Store review still providing a useful service? Did it ever? My opinion is that at the very start it definitely set a tone and stopped the immediate flooding of the store with crap. However at this point, I’m not sure it’s really providing many benefits. Half finished and completely useless apps still get through all the time so it’s definitely not providing the quality control that was promised. More importantly, it continues to stifle innovation through fear of (and the reality of) rejection as we’ve seen time and time again.

I don’t think his points make the case to remove App Store review, but rather that there should be rule of law with regards to App Store review. Inconsistent enforcement is what’s stifling innovation through fear of rejection: multiple times in my career, an app has been rejected for something that had not changed since the last version, pointlessly slowing down development. These should have been cases of “approved, but make these changes for next submission.” Furthermore, I think that organizations in good standing should get approved-by-default status with periodic audits.