The App Store has to be one of the flakiest “services” I’ve ever had the displeasure of having forced on me.  App submissions seem to fail constantly, more often than not, with little or no real error information.  I am genuinely in shock about how bad the entire iOS software distribution process it.  It is thoroughly, thoroughly broken.

The first submission I did failed 3 times even to just get the build up onto the Apple servers.  When it finally made it onto their server to took an overnight wait to get out of the “Processing” status and into a state where I could push it to our testers.  This second time I’ve wanted to push a new build it’s uploaded all 4 times I’ve tried but failed “Processing” 4 times as well.  Two days and 5 builds (from the same source code) and I’m nowhere nearer getting this build out to testers.

Local validations pass, then an upload fails, try again, upload works … processing fails … ad nauseam.

Episode IV – A New Build

I uploaded a new version of that same app to the app store last night for instance.  Waited nearly an hour watching the “(Processing)” text again,  got thoroughly bored waiting and went to bed.  Woke up this morning to the incredibly helpful message:

There was an error importing this build

No error information, no reasoning, nothing to work from, nada, zilch …

And now since Apple refuse to accept another upload with the same build number I have to push EXACTLY the same code-base through my build pipeline just to artificially up the version number to suit Apple.  Shambolic.

According to this thread I am not alone.  This seems to be quite an issue in fact.  And it’s not related to Xamarin since it’s happening to Obj-C and Swift app developers alike.

Now that I have made a new build with a new version number, I cannot even get this build to upload through XCode.  I now get:

This action could not be completed.  Try Again. (-22421)

I’m PAYING Apple for this service … real cash money … I expect more, a LOT more.  You can see from this SO thread that the problem happens often.  If you get an error from a system like this and the “fix” is to just repeat the same steps until it does work is absolutely 100% proof of a piss poor architecture behind the scenes.

No wonder Apple use Microsoft Azure as the real back-end powering iCloud, they simple couldn’t build Azure.

Fixes like “as with everything XCode a reboot fixed the problem” is hilarious.  Just proves to me all these people that make out that Apple stuff “just works” really aren’t using their systems for anything other than looking at cat videos.


Another error I get when validating the archive before submission is:

iTunes Store operation failed

Seriously Apple, you need to clear up this embarrassing mess of a process.  This is XCode 7.2.1 not XCode 0.5.

Application Loader vs XCode

Confusingly, there are two methods to get (I say get generously as neither are working reliably) apps into the App Store.  XCode only deals with xcarchive files via the organiser in XCode.  Whereas Application Loader only deals with .ipa files.  Confused?  Yes well, confusion is name of the Apple game.  Application loader always fails on the API analysis stage, but don’t worry the message is only an advisory note that something else in your distribution tool chain is frankly shit.

The fact that these two methods seem to behave so differently and support completely different workflows suggests to my developer mind that they aren’t even using the same code to perform what should be a standardised process.  It’s not like the App Store is new …

XCode has told me every time that my binary is valid but it so far has always failed once it hits the Apple servers and the LONG 4+ hour wait while they are “Processing” it.  Jeez, people moaning about Microsoft should have a look at Apple if you wanna see a mess at work.

This from the richest company in the world, literally inexcusable.  I wouldn’t mind so much if it actually gave any hint at all as to what the issue might be.  “It Failed” is literally useless.

Error Message At Last

So on my third attempt to get my app up to Apple, I only had to wait 4 hours to be told that processing had failed again.  However, this time I actually got an error message, hidden under the little red exclamation mark:


However, what that actually means is anyone’s guess, I cannot find much about it online which leads me to believe this isn’t an error that should ever make it to the UI.  Half an hour later and that little error message has disappeared anyway.  It’s now back to the useless “It Failed” crap.  I haven’t received any other info from Apple.  Nothing, no emails, no explanation and no advice and obviously, nothing in my TestFlight dashboard.

I literally give up, I’m waiting for a few days until I even bother trying again.

Seriously, Apple this is a shambles.

Apple System Status

Due to all these App Store frustrations I found a useful link on my journey of failure.  Apple System Status link.  You can see from here that iTunes Connect is experiencing issues.

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  • Commenter's Avatar
    Roman — March 19, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I feel you, been facing exactly the same problem for the past 2 days, getting extremely frustrated…

    • Commenter's Avatar
      jammer — March 20, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Indeed, it is probably the most ridiculous process I’ve ever seen in my 25 years as a software engineer. Hugely frustrating and seem like a pot luck process that is renowned for being extremely buggy and unreliable. I’m dumbfounded frankly. I just updated the article with a useful System Status link.

  • Commenter's Avatar
    Ali — March 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I’m want to die!! After 3 months of coding it’s impossible to upload my App. This is disgusting seriously.

  • Commenter's Avatar
    Dan Coburn — June 14, 2016 at 12:37 am

    You should try getting a Unity app to work through this process. Even more hair pulling!

  • Commenter's Avatar
    Tajuddin — August 8, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Totally agree, so embarrassing. I am continuously getting the “Operation failed” error and it does not say what is the error. Terrible service.

  • Commenter's Avatar
    liplan — August 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

    After havin’ seen that ‘2241-try later’-screen 10 times or more the upload worked – but apple refused the app because of ‘poor user experience’. So we improved the app and are trying to upload the new build – 10,15… times – doesn’t work! very “poor user experience” – zum Kotzen!

    • Commenter's Avatar
      jammer — August 26, 2016 at 11:05 am

      Indeed liplan. it is a terrible process that appears to be very error prone from many angles. Whichever method you are currently attempting, try the alternative method. Apploader or Xcode. Trying the alternative seem to sometimes aid the process. Which is inexplicable in and of itself.

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