Update: This change appears to have been reverted; editing of description and what’s new fields is now possible again outside of app review. As Apple never officially acknowledged the change, it is possible that this was a temporary bug that was never intended to go into effect in the first place. Original story below …
Overnight, developers have noticed a silent policy change to iTunes Connect interface which does not seem to have been formally announced by Apple.
Developers are no longer able to edit descriptions, update notes or any other metadata for their apps without making a new version, which must be submitted to App Review for approval …
Before today, developers could change several attributes of their App Store listing at any time.
This means developers must now create a new app version, change the metadata, then submit that app for approval. They must then wait on App Review before the changes can go live.
This means even simple typos in the notes for a newly-released update are now much more annoying (and time-consuming) to correct.
Whilst the motivation behind the inexplicable change is unclear, there is some precedent for Apple locking this down. Developers have ‘never’ been able to change screenshots or the app name without uploading a new version; these have always required upfront approval.
The inconvenience of this decision is mitigated somewhat by the fact that most app updates are now approved within 24 hours.
However, it is still a significant regression over what developers were able to do before. Simple mistakes in user-facing App Store text will now take several hours, at best, to amend. It also means that the App Review queue will now be congested with developers who are just pushing some new marketing copy through the system, rather than changing the application.