Apple's App Store Holiday Hours Are a Gift to Everyone

No more app anxiety

Key Takeaways

  • This year, Apple will accept app submissions throughout the holidays. 
  • Developers can breathe easy knowing they can submit emergency fixes during the busiest season. 
  • No more Christmas-morning disappointments for new iPhone and iPad owners.
Someone taking a photo of a lighted tree using a smartphone.

Sabri Tuzcu / Unsplash

This year, for the first time, Apple will keep the back doors of its App Stores open to developers throughout the holiday season. 

App Store Connect usually shuts down for part of November and December, giving App Store reviewers a chance to take time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But for app developers, these shutdowns can be anxiety-inducing.

Imagine that you update your app ready for the holidays, and millions of buyers download it onto their new iPhones and iPads on Christmas day. Then imagine that your update added a critical bug. Previously, you'd be out of luck. But now, with App Store Connect staying open for business, you can submit a quick emergency fix. 

"I think it's good in case a developer has to release an emergency bug fix update. This has never happened to me over the holidays, fortunately, but you never know," Mac and iOS app developer Jeff Johnson told Lifewire via direct message.

Holiday Rush

When I was a kid, I got an electronic toy one year for Christmas, but my parents forgot to buy batteries. I had to wait for seemingly endless days for the shops to open again. 

Today, we get our gadget gifts and immediately start shopping for apps. This is a prime time for developers to get new customers, so it's extra important that the first experience is smooth. You want to make a great first impression. And yet, with new features rushed out of the door, combined with Apple's yearly shutdown, Christmas is perhaps the worst time to ship app updates for new users. 

A MacBook Pro displaying apps in the App Store with an iPhone displaying app information.


"By far, our biggest week is the week of Christmas, and we spend months leading up to it developing new features for our app. Often these features get published in the week leading up to Christmas, but when bugs are discovered, there's nothing we can do about them until after the holidays," Chase Roberts, chief mobile engineer at shooting-analysis company Mantis Tech, told Lifewire via email.

Why Has Apple Done This?

Unlike physical stores, the App Store is a 24/7 business and operates worldwide. So shutting it down seems pretty old-fashioned, especially if you live and work in one of the many, many countries where Christmas is not a thing. Now, Apple is no longer imposing its local customs on this global market. 

"It wasn't a big thing, but there was always a certain anxiety around the shutdown," Mac and iOS app developer James Thomson told Lifewire via direct message. "Originally, you couldn't even change pricing, which was interesting if you wanted to run a promotion around the holidays. So it's nice to have one less thing to worry about, which is why I suspect they did it." 

It won't be full service as usual, though. It appears that Apple will be running on a skeleton staff over both the US holiday weekends. "Please note that reviews may take longer to complete from November 24 to 28 and December 23 to 27," said Apple in its news update. That doesn't sound like it'll be a good time to submit brand new apps, but that's probably not the point. 

An iPhone displaying app icons and widgets on the Home screen.

Thom Bradley / Unsplash

"If I had to guess Apple's reason, it would be to allow developers to release urgent bug fixes. I can't think of another reason," says Johnson. 

For you and me, this is also good news. We can be sure that any problems with our favorite apps can be fixed ASAP. And for folks who start the day with a visit to the App Store to check for any updates, the holiday period is a dry spell that only makes this addiction feel worse. This will no longer be the case—w can get our daily fix as usual. 

Are there any downsides to this new plan? Not really, although Thomson has a holiday wish for the people working during this time. "Of course, I do hope the reviewers are being paid appropriately, and it's their choice!" says Thomson.

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