Disclaimer : I don't know anyone working for Apple, so I don't know how things are really going. I am only reporting observation from my standpoint, as an iPhone developer.
I already have on app on the appstore, TrackMe, a GPS recording application for your tracks. I made another one, in the same field, but with more time spent on getting things to work nicely together, and being easier to understand for the user. This one is still in review, and I don't know yet if it will get published before the end of the year.
The review process for the first one was obscure, long, but went well : after a little over two weeks, I received the magic email : " Your application is ready to publish". Since that day, I have improved the quality of the application, added much needed features. All in all, the application is fine for me as it is. I certainly need to squash some more bugs, and be a little bit more conservative on several issues. I also need to be able to add a Douglas-Peucker algorithm for tracks that are more than 100 points long. Each time, the review has been an easy process : submit the update, wait one week and see the update pop up on the AppStore.
Then there is the new one. Apparently, I have been in relation with a very thorough reviewer, all for the best.
First, the review is getting faster every time : I got my first rejection after 6 days. Yes, six days! That's short. And I'm talking calendar days, so it must've been 4 instead if you don't count the week end. Then I got my second rejection in just 4 days! You guessed it right : the process was done between monday and thursday. It might even be less than that.
Second, the quality of the review is very good. My first app wasn't rejected, so I cannot say there's really been a progress in this area. But the two rejections were for obvious reasons: my application was not idiot-proof. I mean, it's not like I did something unorthodox, I didn't use private headers or whatever. I didn't make a 'pull my finger' app. I didn't download mpeg ac3 video over edge network. It was just that I didn't check what would happen if the phone was without any network connection (in which case some features wouldn't work), and the second time, I forgot to add a full email validation.
I don't know what will happen next. I hope it won't be rejected again : I have tried to adopt the same idiot-proof state of mind when testing the app and added some more feedback in that state of mind , plus of course correcting the two issues that were mentioned. I really hope it won't get rejected for more reasons, because it would prove I am unable to reach the same state of mind. That's all there would be. Plus the frustration of the email title : Application Submission Feedback.
What I know is I am mentally figuring a to do / check list of must-have routines that is growing. I will put a first rough on Fidug's web site for everyone to add and see, and put hints at what can be done in code. All for the better.