Apple Faces App Review Backlog After Developer Center Breach

As Apple plows towards the release of the next iPhone, it is working with developers to get their apps ready for the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7. But Apple hit a major hiccup in the middle of The Summer Of iOS 7 and has had a big hit on developers.

Apple’s developer center for iOS was hacked by a “security researcher” a little more than a week ago. The researcher, Ibrahim Balic, insisted that he was just probing the developer center for bugs he could then report back to Apple, but he also may have been able to access the personal information of 100,000 iOS developers. His research, or hack, has had consequences larger than Balic probably intended.

For most of the last week, iOS developers did not have access to the tools they needed to build apps for the iPhone and iPad. The loss of access to the developer center for a critical week in the middle of summer was a blow for developers that already have a lot to digest with Apple’s new operating system version. But it also appears that Apple’s app reviewers are getting bogged down by the crash of the developer center.

One developer, who asked not to be identified, said they received a letter from Apple saying that the app it submitted for review would require additional time.

The letter stated:

“We are currently reviewing an app that you submitted for inclusion on the App Store, and want to let you know that the review process will require additional time. We apologize for the delay and will provide you with an update on the status of your app as soon as possible.” 

A conversation with one other developer revealed that they also had received similar letters from Apple. The developer said that it had never received a letter like that from Apple before in submissions to Apple for its apps and updates.

On one hand, it is perfectly reasonable for Apple to tell a developer it needs more time. Especially considering the issues the company is dealing with concerning the iOS developer center. On the other hand, this is fairly unusual behavior for Apple’s app reviewers who are normally able to turn an app review in anywhere between one to three days.

The developer said that it was six days from the time of submission until it got the notice from Apple requesting additional time for review. It has since between another five days and the developer’s app still has not been approved.

In addition to the app approval delays, the downtime for the iOS developer center meant that app publishers were without the certifications and provisioning profiles needed to add functionality to their apps and publish them to the App Store. Those capabilities were fixed when the developer center came back online earlier this week and Apple released iOS 7 beta 4 for developers. 

The iOS developer forums, technical support, Xcode Automatic Configuration and videos continue to be unavailable. That means that iOS developers currently have no official avenues of support from Apple or the iOS community currently. Developers are likely flocking to the regular destinations for coder communities like GitHub, StackOverflow, the App Developers Alliance and Code Project can be consulted.