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How Apple's App Review Is Sabotaging the iPhone

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the race-to-the-bottom dept.

Cellphones 509

snydeq writes to recommend Peter Wayner's inside look at the frustration iPhone developers face from Apple when attempting to distribute their apps through the iPhone App Store. Wayner's long piece is an extended analogy comparing Apple to the worst of Soviet-era bureaucracy. "Determined simply to dump an HTML version of his book into UIWebView and offer two versions through the App Store, Wayner endures four months of inexplicable silences, mixed messages, and almost whimsical rejections from Apple — the kind of frustration and uncertainty Wayner believes is fast transforming Apple's regulated marketplace into a hotbed of bottom-feeding mediocrity. 'Developers are afraid to risk serious development time on the platform as long as anonymous gatekeepers are able to delay projects by weeks and months with some seemingly random flick of a finger,' Wayner writes of his experience. 'It's one thing to delay a homebrew project like mine, but it's another thing to shut down a team of developers burning real cash. Apple should be worried when real programmers shrug off the rejections by saying, "It's just a hobby."'"

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And yet... (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 5 years ago | (#28763639)

Apple's managed to get more than fifty thousand apps through the process and onto the store. Nobody's going to write stories about the ones that went smoothly.

-jcr

Re:And yet... (5, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | about 5 years ago | (#28763711)

Yes, but how many of those apps are good? I don't personally have an iPhone but from what I have seen it seems like most iPhone apps are half-baked juvenile distractions, rather than anything seriously useful. It seems logical to me that the overall quality of iPhone apps could be improved tremendously if devs could actually devote time and resources to apps without fear of arbitrary rejection.

Re:And yet... (3, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | about 5 years ago | (#28763905)

I don't personally have an iPhone but from what I have seen it seems like most iPhone apps are half-baked juvenile distractions, rather than anything seriously useful.

I have the same problem with using NetJets, that personal jet service Roger Federer uses. I'm sure it's just fraught with late departures and stuck up pilots. One is likely always arriving at their destination late or worse, early, and having to stand around with the populous waiting for the limousine.

How many iPhone app reviewers are there? How long does it take to fully test an application so you don't get sued for allowing something that:

1) Bricks the phone
2) Has child porn shoved inside it
3) Is free, barely does what the description says it will do, and yet you need to waste your time deciding if it's just not broken enough to put up there

If there are one hundred app reviewers, there are too few.

Re:And yet... (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28764257)

If the iPhone were properly designed it shouldn't be possible to brick via just a software installation. Childporn is a straw man argument, they've been banning things which could be used to access content that doesn't go with Apple's wholesome image whether or not that was the purpose of the app. As for the description being accurate, there are ways that they could handle that without reviewing it formally chances are the reviewers have different standards than what an individual has..

Re:And yet... (3, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 years ago | (#28763917)

Well I do have an iPhone, and there are a lot of good apps there. Certainly more good stuff than any other phone platform.

As to the proportion that is good... if Apple didn't filter out various of the worst UI disasters as they do, the proportion of crap would be higher.

As to the summary author... he dumped his book into a webview, and then Apple wouldn't publish it. Case in point. They've published plenty of ebooks with good UIs.

Re:And yet... (5, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28763945)

Actually they did publish it. Then they took 2+ weeks to publish the dozen or so new lines of code that fixed bugs.

At the same time they rejected a very similar version. The only difference was some extra HTML. The Cocoa code was equivalent.

So it was fairly random.

Re:And yet... (0, Flamebait)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 years ago | (#28764065)

From the sound of it he's tried getting the app passed numerous times despite knowing that what he's doing is not allowed. It got through one time, when he was using subterfuge to trick the review team. The guy is a stubborn ass. All he needs to do is follow the guidelines for apps.

We've got 5 apps published. Two point revisions have been rejected, quite rightly, because the reviewers caught bugs. We fixed the bugs and they get accepted.

He's clearly the architect of his own downfall.

Re:And yet... (5, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28764163)

From the sound of it he's tried getting the app passed numerous times despite knowing that what he's doing is not allowed.

Really? What am I doing that's not allowed? I pop up a UIWebView and stick in some HTML. That's it. Yet I got some rejection letters telling me that I was either accessing a private API (I wasn't) or somehow interpreting code. (I wasn't.) The UIWebView was doing that and it is perfectly okay for Apple's frameworks to interpret things.

Here's what the rejection note said:

No interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s)."

Well, everything I do is pumped into the UIWebView which is well documented.

Furthermore, how can Apple really make any deep decisions like this? I don't upload code. They don't compile it. They look at raw binary code.

Re:And yet... (1)

d235j (1434583) | about 5 years ago | (#28764259)

Apple has tools like otool and nm which can detect what's going on. class-dump can output headers if it's given an Obj-C binary. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but maybe you attempted to dynamically link the PhoneGap framework instead of statically incorporating it into the main application binary. Such dynamic linking is simply not allowed. However, I could be wrong.

Re:And yet... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28764281)

And what about developers that are "duplicating" features that Apple provides? Or that access the web and could be theoretically used for accessing adult content? Sure in this case you might be right, but Apple's hardly above setting up an abusive system.

Re:And yet... (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 years ago | (#28764363)

There is nothing abusive about setting standards for the apps they accept. When you agree to the contract to become an iPhone developer, you know they have standards you need to adhere to. Most of us get published without problem. This guy ignores the reasons stated for rejection, tries to hide his tracks, and resubmit the app without remedying the problems. No wonder he gets rejected again and again. This is the behaviour of a loon banging his head against a wall.

Re:And yet... (5, Insightful)

wizzat (964250) | about 5 years ago | (#28764033)

How many of them are good? Well, quite honestly alot more are good than if there was no review process at all. If there wasn't a review process, we'd see apps that ignored or borked your settings, leaked memory like a sieve, chewed through your battery life out of ignorance, or hell - maybe we'd simply be looking at a deluge of carbon copy flashlight and porn apps, making the app store effectively useless. Hell, in my opinion (and I do have an iphone) the app store already has *too many* apps, and the quality on the ones there aren't quite high enough for my liking.

I suppose you could think of it this way: you're looking for a needle (good app that does what you want) and you can either search in the pin cushion full of mostly needles and a bit of straw or you can search through the whole fricking hay stack yourself. I'll take the pin cushion, thank-you-very-much.

Also, I'm not sure that you're really qualified to say anything about the relative quality of the app store. You don't, afterall, actually have an iphone.

Re:And yet... (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#28763721)

Apple's managed to get more than fifty thousand apps through the process and onto the store. Nobody's going to write stories about the ones that went smoothly.

Apple is stifling innovation and you think it's fine so long as they've let through 50,000 tetris clones (okay an exaggeration, but it makes my point). Gotta love it. Think different indeed. Think with our marketing blinkers on. To top it off I bet I get modded troll by Apple zealots.

This is EXACTLY why we need OPEN architectures. No developer should have to go through putting together an application only to have it rejected arbitrarily. The same people who support DRM and copyright supposedly to compensate the creator are happy to deny a developer ANY money for their effort at their whim. Hypocrites!

Well I won't be buying an iPhone no matter how "cool" they look or what nifty features they have let alone gambling my time and effort developing for one in the hope that some junior Apple cronie rubber stamps it.

Re:And yet... (0)

jcr (53032) | about 5 years ago | (#28763733)

Apple is stifling innovation

Are you for real? Do you have any idea of what it was like to develop mobile apps before Cocoa Touch was available?

-jcr

Re:And yet... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763915)

Do you have any idea of what it was like to develop mobile apps before Cocoa Touch was available?

Do you? A fanboi of your magnitude wouldn't have touch a non-apple toolchain. Ergo, you have no idea what the competition is doing.

Re:And yet... (4, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28763951)

Are you for real? Do you have any idea of what it was like to develop mobile apps before Cocoa Touch was available?

-jcr

That's not the point. It didn't take me long to write the software. It took me weeks to get rejections and the rejection reasons were nonsensical. One dinged me for using open source software because it was a "framework".

More sensible review please, not less. (3, Insightful)

PopeAlien (164869) | about 5 years ago | (#28764035)

If the results of the review process resulted in less junk cluttering up the appstore than the delays would be more acceptable, but the things they allow are just bizzare. Do they really need almost 400 separate 'supafan' apps from the same developer [appbeacon.com] where the only difference is which celebrity news is being tracked?

Re:More sensible review please, not less. (4, Insightful)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28764093)

Yes, I think this getting at the deep point I was trying to make. Any one company-- even Apple-- can satisfy all of the demands of all of the customers. Many want only quality apps. Some want violence with faux school shootings. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/07/20/apple-approves-iphone-app-that-promotes-school-shootings/) Some don't.

Apple can't make one group happy without angering the other. It's caught in an impossible bind.

Personally I'm peeved that they approved this school shooting simulator before approving my GOLD app. But what can I say?

Re:More sensible review please, not less. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28764223)

Do they really need almost 400 separate 'supafan' apps from the same developer [appbeacon.com] where the only difference is which celebrity news is being tracked?

Yes. Because Apple fanbois are simply too stupid to select the celebrities they wish to fawn over from a listbox.

Re:And yet... (-1, Troll)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 years ago | (#28764117)

If you'd spent more time writing the application, and less time submitting inferior crap using frameworks that you've already been told aren't allowed, you'd be published without problem like most of the rest of us.

Re:And yet... (1)

bnenning (58349) | about 5 years ago | (#28764195)

If you'd spent more time writing the application, and less time submitting inferior crap

Yeah, what an idiot he is for trying to use existing working code rather than reinventing the wheel. Apple is blatantly disregarding their own rules with the PhoneGap rejections. It may be their right to act in such a capricious manner; it's also our right to call them on it.

Re:And yet... (1)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28764235)

This is a solid point. Apple is hurting the development process by not doing more to encourage projects like PhoneGap. The open source dev process is excellent for eliminating many of the common bugs and even some of the really tricky bugs. I'm still at a loss for trying to understand why they don't do more to encourage them.

Re:And yet... (1, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 years ago | (#28764315)

He's an idiot for using a system he knows Apple don't allow. It would only be capricious of Apple if they have no reason for rejecting PhoneGap apps. Clearly they DO have reasons.

Here's some possible reasons.
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/why_is_apple_rejecting_phonegap-built_iphone_apps.php [readwriteweb.com]

But really it doesn't matter what the reasons are. To keep submitting an app that uses a framework you know isn't allowed is just dumb.

Re:And yet... (3, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 5 years ago | (#28764243)

Are you for real? Do you have any idea of what it was like to develop mobile apps before Cocoa Touch was available?

Elaborate, please. I didn't see any difficulties developing apps for Windows Mobile in VS, for example.

Re:And yet... (1)

alain94040 (785132) | about 5 years ago | (#28763837)

This is EXACTLY why we need OPEN architectures.

Sure, but on the other hand, you have to agree that Apple did a good job of keeping viruses and spamware off their platform. There is indeed a real human being(*) who tests all the apps and makes sure that the app does what its description claims...

If you make a completely open app store, make sure you protect your users against malicious experience. You don't want your end-users to be upset.

(*) sometimes it does feel like there is indeed one human being doing all the testing :-)

Re:And yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763895)

If you're saying the complete line of 50,000 apps are useless then you are clearly the one trolling.

Sour grapes.

Re:And yet... (0, Troll)

MrMista_B (891430) | about 5 years ago | (#28763909)

And yet you provide not a single piece of proof or evidence to support your rant.

Hm.

Re:And yet... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 5 years ago | (#28764055)

Arguments for or against a certain thing require nothing more than an opinion and a reasoning behind it.

Evidence helps, but does not suddenly validate or invalidate a position.

For example, child porn is wrong, and its creators must be stopped because they harm the children involved.

Most people can think about that statement, and come to a valid conclusion for or against the position without requiring any bit of evidence supplied in the argument.

And yet, you gave no reason for requiring further proof in this case, though the poster gave his own witness testimony (albeit exaggerated, as he admitted) to the fact.

Hm.

Re:And yet... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 5 years ago | (#28764075)

Exactly which assertions did he make that you're expecting evidence to support?

Re:And yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28764105)

No developer should have to go through putting together an application only to have it rejected arbitrarily.

I'm glad that civil engineers aren't victims of such autocratic whims. If your design sucks, you should have *at least* five other people tell you so, and why.

just make sure it farts (1)

ksheff (2406) | about 5 years ago | (#28764237)

there doesn't appear to be a lack of those applications for the iPhone.

Re:And yet... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#28763727)

Apple's managed to get more than fifty thousand apps through the process and onto the store. Nobody's going to write stories about the ones that went smoothly.

And everyone one of those apps has had a message from the author in the description saying "Version 2.0 coming ($today-30days). It should solve the connectivity issues". The review process may have gotten them through, but I've not seen fast upgrades for anything other than big companies that can pay to be heard.

Re:And yet... (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#28763781)

Apple's managed to get more than fifty thousand apps through the process and onto the store. Nobody's going to write stories about the ones that went smoothly.

Welcome to IT, where we don't care how often you get it right, because your job is to fix it when it goes wrong.

Re:And yet... (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 5 years ago | (#28763791)

You missed the point. Its a quality argument, not a quantity argument.

Re:And yet... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763899)

Its a quality argument

It's a big fat whine from a bunch of whiners. It's Apple's play pen and it's going to stay Apple's play pen. Deal with it and whine less.

I note that in the now substantial history of Apple's App Store system there have been no reports of widespread exploits or other public relations nightmares. Congratulations Apple; you've created a paradigm that doesn't suck as bad as Microsoft.

Re:And yet... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763977)

And Apple's mobile app code review process is in the hands of stinky Indian outsource monkies and other H1-B undesireables who can read code, but not English.

They probably rejected the app in the summary because it was a book and they saw too many words that weren't keywords. They huddle together and say "boogabuuttabatta" before clicking the "reject" button, and then they give themselves ho baths [urbandictionary.com] and Irish showers [urbandictionary.com] before beginning the day anew.

Re:And yet... (0, Troll)

jcr (53032) | about 5 years ago | (#28764355)

Aw, what's wrong? Did someone can you for your attitude and then replace you with an outsource vendor?

-jcr

Let's celebrate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763841)

The coin toss at Applecame up heads 50K times. Wohoo!

Re:And yet... (1)

mgblst (80109) | about 5 years ago | (#28763871)

There are 100s of stories of the successful app, what does it say about you that you haven't read any? I one of the 100,000 iphone developers, and I enjoy reading the good stories much more than the day. Mainly because I already now what the bad stories will say, I have lived through it.

Re:And yet... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#28763961)

Its kind of like using CitySearch.com for restaurent reviews. Pulling random numbers out of my ass, you'll get 5 out of 10 people who write a review about a bad experience to 'stick it to them' and 1 out of 20 people who write a good review just because they read all the bad ones and want to try and balance it out.

Personally, I think if that is what sabotaging your own device looks like, I need to figure out how to sabotage my own companies products so we get those sort of numbers.

I'd love to have Apples problems. So would just about any one else with half a clue, full clue not required for this one.

Re:And yet... (2, Interesting)

Pigmeister (1114499) | about 5 years ago | (#28763993)

I totally agree. There are numerous applications getting poor reviews when the app developer has an update that's been waiting weeks or months to be released by Apple. (People don't read the descriptions.) In many cases I have personally seen app store app comments that existed weeks ago while I await an update for apps I own. In other cases I have been told this via email after writing the author. Exactly what does Apple do to test or qualify updates? AT&T released a GPS navigator app that crashes and puts my iPhone 3G into burner mode yet and doesn't even have the ability to retrieve a destination address from the iPhone address book. If there was ever a reason NOT to release an app - this is it. Missing the most basic of Apple functionality. I guess AT&T gets its own play book. (Of course Apple would never release a product without cut/copy/paste now would it?) Apple has become the evil empire. I stopped hating Microsoft years ago. My contempt is now split between AT&T and Apple (OK... I hate United Airlines, too).

Re:And yet... (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | about 5 years ago | (#28764027)

Apple's managed to get more than fifty thousand apps through the process and onto the store. Nobody's going to write stories about the ones that went smoothly.

Nor will they write stories that fully 28% of those apps are in fact flashlights. (Or at least, that's their most practical use.)

So... (-1, Offtopic)

Rival (14861) | about 5 years ago | (#28763643)

This is not really an issue for those of us without iPhones.

Re:So... (2, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | about 5 years ago | (#28763755)

No kidding. Most phones can run Java programs. Sun even lets you download the SDK for mobile development for free!

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763935)

Sun even lets you download the SDK for mobile development for free!

So does Apple.
What the SDK does not include are signing keys, so you can't run your code on your iPhone without ponying up.

Re:So... (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about 5 years ago | (#28763983)

What I meant was that you can also load your phone with Java apps without paying anyone (at least the phones I've owned thus far from AT&T are like that).

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28764221)

I figured as much; I just wanted to point out that the latest stable SDK is available for free :-)

I definitely do think they need to allow people to run their own code on their own iPhone without going through provisioning hell (incl. the $99 fee) though, as the simulator is far from a decent way of testing things.

Re:So... (1)

ksheff (2406) | about 5 years ago | (#28764121)

then why bother with an iPhone at all?

Re:So... (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 years ago | (#28763799)

More than that, he is trying to create an app that is a book. This is something he could easily do by putting it on a web page, if he wants he could even limit distribution to only iPhones by using the User Agent string (ok, it's not perfect, but does it matter?), and to the average iPhone user it would be approximately the same.

By putting it in an app, he is gaining the benefit of the Apple distribution system, and he is even hoping he will make money by doing so. In fact, I doubt he would even have tried making the app if it weren't for that (has he released a blackberry version?). He is not benefiting users particularly with this app (that is basically a fancy text file), he is cluttering up the app store with a moderately lame application.

Which is fine, anyone should be able to write a moderately lame application, but Apple shouldn't be forced to distribute it for them. The bigger problem here is that Apple isn't letting anyone install apps on the phone in any way other than their distribution system. But once again, in this case it doesn't matter, because he wasn't trying to get on the phone, he was trying to get on the distribution system.

So this isn't just a non-issue for those of us who don't have iPhones, it is a non-issue for almost everyone except those who want free advertising from Apple.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 5 years ago | (#28763897)

First they came for the "lame" apps that wanted to be distributed on the iPhone, but I didn't care because I didn't have and iPhone and/or trust Apple to filter apps for me. . .

Its easy to shrug your shoulders now, when you don't care about a particular functionality. Or if you happen to be the type that habitually runs their cash through Apple's distribution system to buy gimmicky apps that you only use once.

Re:So... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 years ago | (#28764019)

Once again, it's not a problem of Apple's app store, it's a problem of restrictive DRM that doesn't allow anything but approved apps onto the phone. I am quite alright if Apple doesn't allow lame apps into their store, but I won't buy an iPhone until it is opened up.

Re:So... (3, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28763921)

If you read deeper, you'll find the answers to some of your questions. First, the AppStore has proven to be worthless for driving any interest in my books. You can't even find the book by typing the name of the book into the search field. It doesn't help to add quotes around the name. You get other apps with odd names. Don't ask me what's going on.

Second, this isn't about free advertising. I paid Apple to be included in their dev program. You can't even submit free apps without paying.

There's been a healthy debate about the best ways to distribute books for the platform. I like many of the readers. They offer more features than I was able to hack together. But the readers add another layer between the author and the user. They deserve to be compensated. I'll probably experiment with them in the future too. But this was all about experimenting with the AppStore.

Finally, I did build an HTML version and it works reasonable well. You can find it here:

      http://www.wayner.org/books/ffa/webkit/ [wayner.org]

But it has limitations too. The marked up version of the book is more than a megabyte. Anyone can read it on their iPhone by hitting this URL. But the caching isn't great and they may need to reload it. The performance is much better as a direct App.

In any case, I still think that iPhone users and iPhone developers should be able to find each other without waiting for Apple's clearly overburdened team to approve the interaction. That makes a good platform.

Re:So... (0, Flamebait)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 years ago | (#28764037)

If you read deeper, you'll find the answers to some of your questions. First, the AppStore has proven to be worthless for driving any interest in my books. You can't even find the book by typing the name of the book into the search field. It doesn't help to add quotes around the name. You get other apps with odd names. Don't ask me what's going on.

But I'm willing to bet that when you made the app, your hope was that it would drive some kind of interest in your books. Why not make one for the Blackberry?

Re:So... (1)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28764203)

Sure it's to drive interest in the book and maybe even raise some money for charity.

And yes, the Blackberry is on the list. But after all of this grief, I've been aiming more to build webapps that work with webkit.

The URL I've posted should work with some of the newer Blackberry handhelds. I just don't own one so I haven't tried it.

And it should also work with Android and also the Palm Pre if they did a good job with their webkit.

Re:So... (1)

plaxion (98397) | about 5 years ago | (#28764245)

Have you considered going through one of the online sites that are supported by Stanza and/or other ebook readers that are already available on the iPhone/iTouch platform?

Personally I think the idea of having a seperate app on my springboard for each book is stupid and regardless of any level of interest on part for your book, if that's how you want to sell it, I won't buy it that way anyhow.

Re:So... (1)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28764369)

Yes, I did consider that and I may still follow that route in the future. But I like to experiment with new platforms and the iPhone has been one of the shiniest ones around. So I wanted to code it myself.

While I can see why you wouldn't want another app cluttering the springboard, I don't mind it. I picked up a number of books from other devs and liked the experience. So I figured I would go ahead.

Also, you'll notice, for instance, that the book has been available from SiSU archive for some time. http://www.wayner.org/node/5 [wayner.org] So that's sort of a solved problem. :-) Not that it can't be revisited.

Re:So... (4, Funny)

mgblst (80109) | about 5 years ago | (#28763879)

Make sure you click on every story that doesn't involve you, and inform us of how it doesn't relate to you. I find that comments like yours really add to the discussion.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#28763943)

Make sure you click on every story that doesn't involve you, and inform us of how it doesn't relate to you. I find that comments like yours really add to the discussion.

Your response is not really an issue for those of us who are not Rival.

This message should be modded up to 5 insightful if recent trends are any indication.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 5 years ago | (#28763959)

I find that comments like yours really add to the discussion

Re:So... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 5 years ago | (#28764139)

What if the subject of the discussion is the reason why it doesn't relate to me? i.e., what if the poorly-conceived App store is the main reason stopping someone from getting an iPhone?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763927)

here here!!
I still pride myself on not carrying a personal mobile device (work is a differnet srory, but it never leaves the office)

Re:So... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#28763955)

This is not really an issue for those of us without iPhones.

You forgot about ipod touches.

Before you hit post, yes, this is still not an issue if you don't have an ipod touch or an iphone.

Re:So... (4, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | about 5 years ago | (#28764097)

That's your phone provider's fault. I've got an iPhone and I love it. I have wasted so much time with it. Trism [demiforce.com] , Peggle [popcap.com] (great control!), and Flight Control [firemint.com] have taken large chunks of my life.

Both my siblings have Palm Pres. I've played with them, and they're quite nice. My only complains were the build quality (would like it a little tighter) and navigation (you have to know the gestures, they're not discoverable). The card metaphor is very good.

But the app store is empty. There are three games, one of which is... connect 4.

The SDK was just released to the public, in beta. It's not meant for games, it's barely more advanced than the first way to develop for the iPhone (which was so roundly criticized). You can't get accelerometer data faster than 4 samples/sec. Palm is supposed to be making a gaming framework, but who knows how long that will be.

So right now Palm is taking submissions for their app store, which will only be able to handle non-demanding games (no Katamari Damacy there), for it's fall opening. Even if your game is done, no one will be able to buy it for months.

Basically, the Pre will be devoid of good apps for at least the next 6 months. The situation is really sad. They messed it up, big time. The SDK, even in alpha, should have been available months ago, so there would be apps at launch.

Windows Mobile has tons of apps, and a tradition of tiny little utilities costing $20. Combine that with the fragmentation of device capabilities and the market is... rough for a consumer.

Blackberries? I've heard that to develop anything on them that doesn't look like a 1996 Java applet requires you to basically do the painting for every widget on screen. There is device fragmentation here too. The app store it's self is a joke, it's very difficult to use. There is no way to browse it from a computer, which makes using it a nightmare.

Apple proved good apps were a "killer app". No one really "got" the importance of them before the iPhone's native SDK came out. Unfortunately, after more than a year, no one else is even close to being able to foster any kind of app ecosystem. Palm should have, but botched it.

I'm not really sure about the G1. I'm guessing it's sales are just too small for it to reach any kind of critical mass soon (where the Pre has a chance and Blackberries are there).

Re:So... (1)

ksheff (2406) | about 5 years ago | (#28764217)

Some of the gestures can be found in Palm's user manual that isn't included with the device, but has to be downloaded. It's easier to grab the 'tricks and tips' document from precentral along with whatever homebrew applications that people have already made. I don't mind not having 'demanding games' for the device and have no problems with the build quality.

Yeah, platform is hurting (1, Interesting)

hieronymus (763770) | about 5 years ago | (#28763647)

Only a billion downloads. What a disaster.

Re:Yeah, platform is hurting (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 years ago | (#28763695)

Might have been 2 billion if it was an easier process.

Re:Yeah, platform is hurting (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | about 5 years ago | (#28763795)

Actually they are pretty close to 2 billion downloads! :) I don't know how many of those are free - probably most of them but still that's a lot of people using iPhones and iPod Touches.

Re:Yeah, platform is hurting (1)

Kinjin (1340519) | about 5 years ago | (#28763739)

So by your reckoning Micrsoft must have the best stuff ever. They have really big numbers. Big numbers always mean quality.

Good (2, Insightful)

kmac06 (608921) | about 5 years ago | (#28763699)

Apple is not interested in allowing you to control your own hardware. This is just another example among many. I hope this sort of thing makes the iPhone and other Apple crap die a painful death.

Long live Android!

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#28764181)

But it isn't dying a painful death in the marketplace at all, is it? In fact it's flourishing.

You may recall this story [wired.com] about how Apple thrives under Steve Jobs dictatorial and secretive management style.

You may even recall the infamous slashdot iPod launch coverage [slashdot.org] in which it was deemed "lame" because it was less feature-rich than the competition.

This is the history of Apple: there is a market for simple, well-managed products that work out of the box, and maintaining tight proprietary control over the Apple universe is how this is accomplished. I don't know what this says for openness, but there you have it. So long as your use cases aren't too far out of the ordinary, I guess it's worth it to have the trains run on time.

Re:Good (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | about 5 years ago | (#28764341)

Long live Android!

Android will only be a success to the degree that it matches what consumers actually want. Here's a hint: The vast majority of consumers don't even want to "control [their] own hardware." They just want a device that works well enough and has the features they care about. Android may very well help phones be just that, but love it or hate it, the iPhone is there already.

I'm confused as to why you think the iPhone and Apple's "crap" should die. Why do you care what other people use as long as there is a product (non-Apple, whatever) that meets your needs. I can only assume it has something to do with jealousy, but you should realize that that is pretty silly. People like the iPhone. Good for them. You don't like the iPhone. Good for you. Get something you like and let other people enjoy what works well for them, and there's not need to feel spiteful about it.

Boohoo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763717)

Oh boohoo. This is a typical rant against the evil of large corporations like Apple and Microsoft who somehow won't recognize the genius and importance of the authorr of the diatribe. Sometimes these rants degenerate into complaints about the stupidity of users. Many software developers have made a lot of money on software for the IPhone, Apple and Microsoft. If you experience problems look inward.

Looks like we have.... (1)

pizzach (1011925) | about 5 years ago | (#28763735)

Nintendo 2 on our hands! You know, from the NES days. Big N Loyalists unite...what were we talking about again?

Solution (-1, Troll)

Antony1Kenobi (1602169) | about 5 years ago | (#28763825)

Here's an idea...if you don't want bad reviews then make an app that doesn't suck.

Annoying process, but still worth it. (4, Informative)

mgblst (80109) | about 5 years ago | (#28763835)

I too have found this process annoying. Apples now ruling on UIWebView is ridiculous. I tried to work with them on not allowing any links to work, and they weren't happy enough with that, I still need to give it maximum rating.

But the most frustrating aspect is having no communication with customers. A customer spots a bug, leaves a review that is it. You can fix it, but there is no way to get in touch with that customer, or leave a reply saying you have fixed it. There is even no message that a customer has left a review, you have to trawl through all your apps for reviews every so often, or you will never find out about this.

It is a great system, I will keep producing apps because of this, but it certainly could be better.

Re:Annoying process, but still worth it. (3, Insightful)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 5 years ago | (#28764089)

Can't you just post a link to a bug tracker in your product description?

And this is different from what? (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#28763855)

Sidekicks -- They have a "marketplace too". Locked down. T-mobile phones. Locked down. AT&T phones. Locked down. Almost every phone in existance has a "market place" equivalent, which has an approval process. Suddenly the iPhone comes along and people were expecting sunshine and kittens?

Re:And this is different from what? (4, Informative)

jpmorgan (517966) | about 5 years ago | (#28763989)

It's not that other phones have a marketplace with an approval process, it's that the marketplace is the only way to load programs onto your phone. With a Windows Mobile phone, you can download and install a .cab from anywhere you want. If it's not signed you get a brief warning message, and that's it.

Re:And this is different from what? (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#28764325)

With a Windows Mobile phone, you can download and install a .cab from anywhere you want. If it's not signed you get a brief warning message, and that's it.

Yeah. Most people didn't plunk down $400 for their phone and/or don't have a "windows mobile" phone. Most phones used by consumers today are locked.

Comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763889)

Apple gets a lot of flack for their App Store reviews process, but how is it different than other platforms? Can I run unapproved apps like Bittorrent on a Verizon phone? Can I put a podcasting client on my Xbox?

Apple does have room for improvement; a better list of what's allowed and what isn't, a way to appeal rejections, etc. (Apple bans pornographic apps, bandwith-hogging apps, illegal apps, unlocking and jailbreaking apps, viruses, and apps that duplicate functionality). However, don't act like they invented what Verizon and ATT and Nintendo and the others in the gang all did for ages before.

Re:Comparison (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#28763987)

The difference is simple, Apple has FAR more developers than the XBox does.

This story is just someone else riding Apples success, sure its a gripe, but it wouldn't matter if they weren't doing so well in the first place.

Re:Comparison (2, Insightful)

peterwayner (266189) | about 5 years ago | (#28764005)

Look around. Palm and Symbian applications can be downloaded from many websites. Here's a website with more than 500 open source Palm apps:

      http://www.palmopensource.com/ [palmopensource.com]

Microsoft works with a number of stores like Handango.

If the sandbox is good enough-- and it's not that hard to build a good one-- then any software should be downloadable.

Re:Comparison (2, Informative)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 5 years ago | (#28764133)

It's a lot different in the fact you don't need to be a large company and spend thousands of dollars on special developer units, and licenses, and software to do the developing. Apple has a one time cost of $100 to anyone, all you need is a Mac, which are sadly cheaper than an Xbox dev unit. (I don't know about Wii's, but the process is the same.) And, the development SDK is free for anyone. Verizon's process is, you have to spend about $500 on a certificate from Verisign, you have to be a big enough company to convince Qualcomm to give you testing rights on your phone (which you also have to buy several different ones to test on) and then Verizon might review your application. The BREW application development process is terrible.

Author is a dumbass (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763973)

Let's count off the ways that the author is a dumbass:

  • in the article, spells 'foreword' as 'forward' at least a half dozen times. For someone that wants others to read their work, this is ridiculous.
  • thinks that writing his own custom scrolling interface in Javascript is a good idea. There is a special place in HELL for idiots that do this (Flash devs, I'm looking at you). Unless I've missed something, the iPhone already scrolls.
  • and finally, the simple principle of "I'll write an app that shows an HTML page'. Guess what - they did it already. It's called a BROWSER. If you want to raise money, put up a donation button or something.

If turds like this guy's app were allowed, the "too many apps" problem would be 100x worse, mostly with "MAKE MONEY FAST" (or the "Web 2.0" equivalent) versions of his idea.

Have you tried the alternative store? (5, Insightful)

szyzyg (7313) | about 5 years ago | (#28763981)

I unlocked my phone within minutes of getting it home. I then proceded to take a look at the apps available via the Cydia store, which is unencumbered by the Apple review process.
Pretty much everything I tried was garbage with the developers doing just enough to get something ported and then abandoning it regardless of what kind of glaring bugs are in the system, yes the reveiw process is harsh but it does help maintain a minimum level of quality that is bettter than 99% of the apps in the cydia store.
(still, being able to get low level access to my phone still makes the jailbreak worthwhile)

Re:Have you tried the alternative store? (5, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | about 5 years ago | (#28764169)

What percent of the 20+ million devices running iPhone OS do you think are jail broken? It's just not a reliable answer for most people.

Some people see things how they are.

Re:Have you tried the alternative store? (4, Informative)

foom (29095) | about 5 years ago | (#28764189)

I'm sure part of the problem with the "unofficial" app store is that it's quite likely that one of these days, Apple will get serious, and make a bootloader without glaring security holes in it. (I mean come ON, Apple, the bootloader isn't that big!...)

When that happens, it may be impossible to "permanently" unlock an iPhone without hardware mods, which will seriously limit the Jailbreak community -- probably into irrelevance.

That's a rather big risk for anyone to take on in their development...

Heck, I'm not even bothering to learn to write for the iPhone as a *hobby*, because it'd be a waste of my time. Pretty much everything I want to write isn't allowed by Apple's rules, and while my phone is Jailbroken, Apple is trying (so far, completely incompetently...) to prevent me from being able to buy a new jailbreakable iPhone ever again. So it seems to me that the iPhone is basically a dead-end platform.

Re:Have you tried the alternative store? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 5 years ago | (#28764205)

How about not needing a store at all? How about visiting the developer's website to download and install their application the exact same way every computer user has been installing applications since the internet came into use? How about not needing to break your phone in order to use it the way you want to use it? It's all well and good that a member of the 4-digit UID club can unlock their phone, but the vast majority of iPhone owners either don't want to risk that, or don't even know it's possible. When you defend the Apple app store, which has quite a few junk applications itself (unless iFart is really your bag of tea), and is missing quite a few innovative applications that don't meet one or more Apple guidelines, by citing another store that has even lower-quality applications available, what exactly are you defending?

Re:Have you tried the alternative store? (1)

talcite (1258586) | about 5 years ago | (#28764313)

I unlocked my phone within minutes of getting it home. I then proceded to take a look at the apps available via the Cydia store, which is unencumbered by the Apple review process. Pretty much everything I tried was garbage

I know you're not really trying to make this argument, but it will probably come up in the thread so I'll address it here. The argument about locking a store the quality of apps isn't very valid.

Linux distros regularly deal with open source app quality fluctuations and have no problem keeping quality high. Repos are a standard way of keeping tested, high quality apps and lower quality minimally (or un-) tested apps separated. Take CentOS for example: You want stable? Keep the base and update repos only. You want more cutting edge? Try RPMForge.

Apple could easily open up another store with untested apps and give the standard 'caveat emptor' line. The decision to not provide an open store probably was more of a business decision than a technical quality one.

Wasted time (4, Insightful)

Djupblue (780563) | about 5 years ago | (#28764011)

Why would I as a developer put time and hard effort into developing software if I believed there was a good chance it would never even get the chance to be installed?

Are They Not Doing Anything While Waiting? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28764013)

I sincerely understand both the frustration and the annoynance, but it is almost like the developers are seemingly sitting still and not doing anything while waiting for the approval? I am sure they must be having other stuff to do while waiting for the approval and if the issue is going to be ongoing I suggest their strategy change accordingly although I am not defending Apple here at all. Apple should perhaps change their tactics or at least make it easier for updates to get through (like bugfixes) and the developers should not bet everything on one horse either.

The review process certainly has its flaws, but... (1, Insightful)

salimma (115327) | about 5 years ago | (#28764029)

... this example is not necessarily the best way to publish electronic books. Wouldn't it be better to put the book (both editions) up on Amazon Kindle, and let people use the Kindle app for the iPhone?

Imagine the horror of having a 1,001 authors all packaging their books as separate apps...

How many apps ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 years ago | (#28764045)

... available for the iPhone nvolve some sort of fee/subscription/paid srvice from a third party? In other words, other than services/fees involving Apple/AT&T?

Apple is willing to take the risk. (2, Insightful)

silentsteel (1116795) | about 5 years ago | (#28764047)

This has been how Apple has done business for years. How much more money could they make if they allowed OS X to be installed on any x86 PC? They do not because they like being in control. You do not purchase a Mac, or an Iphone, you purchase the experience, as regulated by Apple. Right or wrong, this business model is along the path they chose long ago so I doubt that they will change much now. If, as a developer, you do not want to play by their rules, then you can take your software elsewhere. Just as it is their right to do this, it is also your right not to develop for their platform.

What "App" did you submit? (0)

Mononoke (88668) | about 5 years ago | (#28764101)

Is there some definition of "application" that makes it synonymous with "static web page"? Seriously. You want people to buy your book, so you try to disguise it as an 'app' and get rejected. Sounds like a valid rejection to me.

Maybe it was rejected because it sucks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28764187)

Was the html in his "Application" as bad as what was on that site? Why did I keep seeing the line "<!-- pagebreak -->"? If I was apple, I'd reject an App that was just a piece of bad html too.

Anyone saying that ... (1)

DerWulf (782458) | about 5 years ago | (#28764193)

Anyone saying "it's just a hobby" either doesn't understand what a hobby is or what "just" means. If people actually have a hobby it's going to be very very important to them. Anyhow, I wonder how many people would accept / defend a Microsoft app store that was there to ensure no kiddy porn or trojan could be loaded on your Windows PC.

A great example is the Quad Camera app (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28764225)

The "Quad Camera" app has a bug that prevented it from working on the 3.0 OS. So the author fixed it, and submitted it to Apple over two months ago, and it's still not released. So those of us who upgraded to 3.0 lost this app and there is absolutely no recourse with Apple. There is no way to bypass the App Store and install a custom fix either, so they are happy to take our money but then they leave us in the cold when the app needs updating.

Another annoyance is that the same author has three other apps which had the same bug and he fixed them all, but for some unknown reason Apple is silently ignoring the update for this one app.

Forget the review (0)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | about 5 years ago | (#28764261)

The review process is fine. Apple's goal is to guarantee "quality" - as per their own definition. It just so happens that Apple's definition of quality is in line with how iPhone owners define it. The developer's opinion on quality means very little to Apple or to iPhone owners. What can, and should, be improved is how the app goes live. As it stands, the app goes live when Apple's reviewer approves it. This can be a couple of weeks after it was submitted, or a couple of days. Often blind-siding the developer. Apple should really, really, make it that approved apps go into a wait state, and then go live when the developer pulls the trigger.
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