Every app on Apple’s iPhone app store has been approved by a live human, which means that for people submitting their apps, it can take days or weeks before it actually goes on sale.
But Shai Wolkomir, CEO of Tel Aviv-based mobile startup Elasticode, has been using a hidden way to skip to the front of Apple’s app approval line for years. Turns out, Apple actually has an expedited app approval process for people who need their app to go live as soon as possible.
In the early years of the App Store, the expedited process was a guarded secret on a need-to-know basis. “It was a dirty secret back then, it was hidden. In the early days, we had to contact people who know people, and then when we got to the right people, they would help in specific circumstances,” Wolkomir told Business Insider.
Wolkomir described it as “a secret cult of Apple rolodex [contacts] you wanted to own and email once you are in need.”
Eventually, Apple opened up its expedited process, providing a form and short explanation on its developer website. But simply submitting the online form is no guarantee of approval, because Apple only lets apps skip the line for specific reasons, like critical bugs, or planned launch events.
“Not everybody knows about it. And even if you know about it, how are you going to address it — how are you going to ask the right questions that might appeal better to Apple’s ears?” Wolkomir said.
So after trial and error with his clients, he found the exact words and cases that would get Apple’s attention. On Wednesday, he published a tool that generates expedited review request letters.
Wolkomir calls it Dear Apple.
Here’s the Dear Apple letter generated for a hypothetical app called Business Insider Live that needs to be approved for an impending (and fictitious) global publicity tour:
Elasticode has also shared plain text templates of his various letters. Some app makers are even upset that Dear Apple may be blowing up a closely held old-timer iOS developer secret. And Wolkomir advises that users shouldn’t submit an expedited request for every little bug fix.
The App Store review process has frustrated developers for years, but it helps to keep iPhones and iPads mostly free of malware and other bad apps. And under new App Store head Phil Schiller, review times have been getting better — according to appreviewtimes.com, app makers only need to wait about four days for their app to be approved these days, even if they’re not using a hidden workaround.