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Apple’s app review process gets a lot of hate from developers and customers alike, but before you judge Apple’s reviewers too harshly, consider what they have to put up with.Mike Lee, a former senior engineer at Apple who worked on the company’s Worldwide Developer Relations team, says that working as an app reviewer can be a lousy job for several reasons.
For starters, Lee says the app review team – like many of Apple’s departments – is very understaffed for the task at hand.
“People have this idea that there are 100 people in India doing app reviews,” Lee tells Business Insider. “It’s just people in a building at Apple, and like every other part of Apple, they can’t get enough really good people. Apple will not compromise the quality of its teams to fill it in. I promise you its a lot smaller than you imagine.”
To make matters worse, Lee says the app reviewers are essentially tasked with managing a slush pile of apps. Yes, there are quality apps, but he says there is so much garbage that reviewers “may accidentally toss out the gem.”
In fact, garbage may be putting it mildly. Lee tells us that app reviewers are frequently bombarded with app submissions that have pictures of male genitalia. And no, we’re not talking about the occasional image here and there. Lee says that Apple’s employees are forced to spend lots of valuable time “sitting there looking at things that may or may not be d*cks all day long.”
Here’s what he told Business Insider:
It’s a very serious problem, trying to filter out things that no one is there to see. Somebody has to sit there and filter out all those d*cks. You can’t let all those d*cks get through. You have to err way on the side of safety. You have to have people sitting there looking at things that may or may not be d*cks all day long. Apple refuses to farm stuff out to massive groups of people. They insist on having actual smart, educated, well-trained people doing the job. So that means they have to have some of their actual employees sifting through a pile of d*cks.
This, according to Lee, is the real reason why Apple has such a strict censorship policy and blocks out any apps that can be construed as the least bit pornographic. It’s not just Steve Jobs felt a responsibility to give users “freedom from porn,” it’s that Apple desperately needs a way to expedite the review process.
“The only way to deal with it is to set the bar so far away from d*cks so that even a picture of a cucumber gets blocked by accident,” he says. “Because if you don’t, you have people spending hours and hours of conversation on whether something is a pubic hair. It’s a huge waste of time.”