Conference Call with RIMThu 14 June 2012 by Xitij Ritesh Patel
I mentioned at the end of A Desktop Bridge Too Far that I had participated in a conference call with RIM about many of the concerns that I had raised. I’ll try to summarize what was discussed.
When Desktop Bridge was first submitted, it was reviewed by the App World team that is responsible for approving apps. Due to Desktop Bridge’s functionality, it was flagged for further review by another, separate team. The first time that the app was approved, it was pulled back to allow the internal team additional time to review Desktop Bridge.
I threw a kink in the chain when I submitted another revision. It seems that the App World team continued about their regular business, not completely aware of what the internal security review team was doing. The App World team reapproved my app before the internal team could flag it again, which is what led to the issues I ran into.
RIM admitted that the internal team could have moved faster towards making a decision, and improved their communications with both the App World team, and myself. I identified that there needs to be greater transparency into the process, and they agreed. They assured me they will take steps to rectify these issues.
Some time before BlackBerry 10 is released, they are planning to release a document with guidelines on what they are looking for in the app approval process. They have their own internal documents, but they aren’t suitable for public consumption. I was assured that we should see this sooner, rather than later.
App World Security
RIM assured me that they are well aware of the issue and take it quite seriously. They have taken steps to rectify the problem, and we should likely see a solution in place some time this summer, well before BlackBerry 10 is released. Personally, I’d like to see a more definite timeline.
We had a pretty good discussion about this issue. Currently, RIM’s App World team receives an app, and checks its content and metadata to ensure it doesn’t violate any of the agreements or terms. Then the app is put through a number of tests to ensure it runs and doesn’t cause the device to malfunction (e.g. blow up). Functional testing is not done, as the app’s functionality is left to the developer.
However, additional functional testing is something that RIM has considered. While a poorly functioning app does reflect poorly on the developer, it does affect the perception of App World’s quality as well. Functional tests could be introduced via automation, but it’s difficult to conduct with several 1000s of different types of apps. Moreover, they need to balance this with the goal of reducing approval times and the impact on the developer. It is not an easy problem to solve, and I’m not sure either of us had a good solution.
All of this would be separate from the quality certification process, as that would likely be handled by an external team. Since most apps would not be reviewed for quality certification, it allows some room for additional testing to be done. Again, what that testing would be is still unknown.