Why we are leaving the Apple AppStore and all its problems


We also do not enjoy charging for updates, but it is simply not possible to develop and support a product indefinetly for free.

Not user nor developer friendly

For many years developers were not particularly satisfied with Apple's AppStore. It creates an artificial frontier between users and developers. Developer can not inform users about updates, tips, issues or fixes, and users often turn to the AppStore with one star reviews and negative comments instead of reaching out to developers to find a solution. Additionally Apple manually reviews all applications and updates. This often causes delay and frustration when developers need to get urgent bug fixes to users, and users can not downgrade to a previous version unless they keep an backup themselves. Last but not least Apple even charges 30% from the developers sales, income that naturally companies would rather spend on hiring new developers, support staff, marketing and administration.

There are also additional, smaller points, such as only allowing one price tier for the whole world, without a mean to discount an application for example in developing countries, or that it often takes some time until updates are approved. Unfortunately updates are also often rejected for random reasons, sometimes a screenshot, duplicate applications icon (yes, seriously when ExactScan and Pro shared the same 7 years and 100 updates later!), when the reviewer can not scan, or they want us to adopt new development guidelines. These design guidelines often only cause unnecessary changes, and thus work and potentially new bugs, without any visible benefit to the user.

The Catalina disaster

With macOS 10.15 "Catalina" Apple introduced many incompatibilities and we were actually left with the impression that Apple will address some of them as well as some more bugs before releasing Catalina to the public.

After releasing the Catalina Golden Master build to developers on October the 3rd, we immediately finished fixing any new crash or issue we could find over the weekend. In our opinion, leaving developer just four (4!) days over a weekend with a public release on October the 7th is not very helpful nor professional. While we still updated our applications in time, Apple did not review them for the AppStore, and instead rejected them first for a crash (sigh!), and later for requiring UI changes, including showing a Save As panel for each generated file. Now this may not sound like much, this is a serious issue for a document scan application which easily generates hundreds of files in an hour, and thousands of files a day, with file names automatically generated, either thru counters, or advanced auto-id features, such as barcodes.

Pointing out that this is a stability and maintenance release that is urgent for Catalina compatibility did not impress Apple's review team either, ..! :-/

How to update now

As developers do not have access to any customer data in the Apple's AppStore, users who purchased our applications in Apple's AppStore in the last 12 months would need to simply email a copy of their receipt to our support asking for a classic, direct license.

Customers who already had our application for significantly longer, e.g. since it launched on January 6, 2011, on Mac OS X 10.6.6 we would kindly suggest to purchase an price reduced upgrade license in our ExactCODE online store.

As you see from the Catalina situation, maintaining an application and keeping it up to date and compatible with latest operating systems, computers, scanners, as well as adding new features, optimization and answering suport emails costs time and money.

Why now?

We always have been very, maybe too user friendly. The initial version of ExactScan was supported and updated for free for over seven years with over 100 updates. Only around 2015 did we introduce paid upgrades for the first time ever.

With seven years in the AppStore we were actually brainstorming how we could transition this to financially viable future. We would have preferred Apple to eventually support price reduced upgrades, which Apple to date did not. We could only start a completely new application, or transition to in-app purchases and subscriptions, e.g. for OCR, barcode or other features. Neither of which we are particular fans of, and it certainly does not help that Apple over the years was never really supportive, and usually only caused review drama and took 30% of our sales.

Summary of AppStore drawbacks

There is mostly only one benefit for users: one central place for purchasee and updates. However, there are many negatives, such as:

For Users

  • no free trial
  • no going back to previous versions, unless local backup
  • days or weeks delay, for each small bug fix
  • no upgrade discount, unless weekend sales or subscription
  • Apple's 30% cut might increase some prices
  • single point of failure and censorship

For developers

  • additional application variant to build and test
  • need to send each update to Apple
  • huge delay for at times highly important fixes, e.g. for new devices
  • often review rejected for text, images, random issues
  • 30% of the sales go to Apple, huge loss in income (unless price is increased)
  • one price for whole world, even if XCHG rate makes prices sub-optimal
  • no discount for developing countries
  • disconnect from the users, which often simply post bad app reviews, or return the app instead of reaching out to developer for actually support and fixes
  • need to write app, text and artwork to pass Appleā€™s review
  • random censorship of whatever Apple does not like
  • payout avg. 6 weeks after sales, long time to pay running costs
  • (need to pay $99 a year for the privilege)