Apple Explains BlueMail Reinstatement, Says BlueMail Finally Complied With Gatekeeper Security Requirements

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Last week, BlueMail co-founders Ben Volach and Dan Volach penned an open letter that encouraged any developers who feel that Apple kicked them out of the App Store or has treated them unfairly to share their stories.


BlueMail itself was removed from the Mac App Store in June 2019 after Apple found the app to be in violation of several App Store Review Guidelines, but the Volach brothers disagreed and argued that Apple showed "little willingness to resolve the issue" and provided "shifting explanations" as to why the app was removed from the Mac App Store and why it could not be reinstated.

Apple has since responded to the matter, refuting many of BlueMail's claims and noting that its App Store Review Guidelines apply evenly to all developers.

In a statement last week, shared with MacRumors, Apple said it "attempted on multiple occasions to assist them in getting their BlueMail app back on the Mac App Store," but said "they have refused our help." Apple added that BlueMail was "proposing to override basic data security protections which can expose users' computers to malware that can harm their Macs and threaten their privacy."

Just days later, however, BlueMail has returned to the Mac App Store, which BlueMail said is "proof that speaking out works."

"When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple's developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week," said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. "If you're out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly."

Apple's response, however, suggests that BlueMail refused to take the necessary steps for its app to be reinstated on the Mac App Store until now.

Specifically, Apple says its Developer Technical Support team advised the BlueMail team to make changes to how it packages its Mac app in order to resolve a security and privacy warnings issue related to the app creating a new binary with a bundle ID that changes on each launch.

Apple says that BlueMail finally submitted a revised version of its app with an updated binary respecting Gatekeeper on February 7, two days after its open letter to developers. Apple says its App Review team found that the previous issues had been addressed, allowing it to return to the Mac App Store as of Monday.

Nevertheless, BlueMail parent company Blix today said it has no intention of dropping its legal case against Apple, which it believes extends beyond the removal of BlueMail on the Mac App Store to the "suppression of its iOS app" and the "infringement of Blix's patented technology through 'Sign in with Apple.'"

"We're happy that users can once again get BlueMail through the Mac App Store, but we know this isn't the end. Our experience has shown that until the app review process includes effective checks and balances, Apple holds too much power over small developers," said Ben Volach, co-founder at Blix. "One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple's App Review Board, just as a public company's Board of Directors represents its shareholders."

BlueMail parent company Blix's lawsuit against Apple, filed in October 2019, alleges that the "Hide My Email" feature of "Sign in with Apple" infringes on its patented technology. The complaint also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store at the time.

Article Link: Apple Explains BlueMail Reinstatement, Says BlueMail Finally Complied With Gatekeeper Security Requirements
 
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dvanwinkle

macrumors member
Feb 9, 2009
34
32
Ohio
As a developer, I sometimes get frustrated with Apple's policies as well. But the tradeoff is as a user, I am happy that if someone is trying to be a bad actor, they are often limited to their sandbox and Apple takes care of them quickly. They even did the same thing to Facebook. Every time I see a company like BlueMail whining, it's obvious to me that the developers should just stick with Android and Windows to get away with things they want to get away with.

The right way isn't to cry foul when you're caught doing something bad. The right way is to open a conversation with your Apple Developer Relations contact and work with Apple to either change policy or understand if your business is going to work in the Apple ecosystem. Suing them for upholding their own policies and rules is like suing your landlord when you are breaking the lease, the judge is going to laugh and throw it out, while you're making no one but lawyers richer.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
6,526
1,020
Baltimore, Maryland
Ignoring the controversy I decided to try it and load up a crap Gmail address I have.

The folder list is a click away…you can't view it and your message list at the same time. There's no option for not loading message images. The calendar doesn't show subscribed calendars (for the Gmail account).
 
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omihek

macrumors 6502
May 3, 2014
495
1,504
Salt Lake City, UT
One good thing that came out of all this is that I now know I will never ever ever use BlueMail. Thanks for showing us your true colors, BlueMail, I couldn't have made this decision without your help!
 
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happyprozak

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2008
101
109
One good thing that came out of all this is that I now know I will never ever ever use BlueMail. Thanks for showing us your true colors, BlueMail, I couldn't have made this decision without your help!
I see what you did there.
 

Rigby

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2008
4,915
3,866
San Jose, CA
If you use features like push notifications, this app stores your email account credentials on their servers. That alone would be reason enough for me not to use it, given that there is very little public information who "Blix Inc." actually is.
 
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steve09090

macrumors member
Aug 12, 2008
71
82
I'm pretty sure that's not why they're suing them. Do you really think it is?
From Apples response, they say that they have introduced a new Binary ID feature as a requirement in apps that require an email to log in. This is a feature announced publicly that protects privacy of users (one off email logins). Blix didn’t want to comply. Apple said "Yeah, nah..." Blix stomped their feet a bit, threw the dummy out of the cot and then ended up complying. Apple said ”C-C-C-Cool”
 
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jinnj

macrumors regular
Dec 9, 2011
174
112
Why would they change their binary after they launched? That implies they're pulling new versions of their app down occasionally, which is a great way to bypass gatekeeper.

Why would they do this?
They are probably writing something back into the app bundle causing the hash to fail. They should follow the guidelines and separate the app and the configuration.
 

dvanwinkle

macrumors member
Feb 9, 2009
34
32
Ohio
I'm pretty sure that's not why they're suing them. Do you really think it is?
If it was merely about the patent, they wouldn't be even mentioning this:

The complaint also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store at the time.
There was a time that we were releasing an update to an app that had been on the store since nearly the beginning of the App Store (ooVoo) and all of a sudden Apple didn't like that we were asking for the date of birth. We had been asking for it since the beginning but we still had to comply and change how we were asking for the age of the person. What likely happened is that they're running out of money, the business isn't working, and Apple was making them make changes, so they sued and caused a big uproar. Now they have a TON of free publicity and it's probably giving their numbers a temporary boost.
 

macintoshmac

macrumors 68040
May 13, 2010
3,546
3,043
I personally think we cannot be taking one's word over another without sufficient proof. Apple could say anything and we will have more believers than we would for BlueMail.
 

uniquexoxo

macrumors 6502
Aug 27, 2018
284
167
South East Asia
As a developer, I sometimes get frustrated with Apple's policies as well. But the tradeoff is as a user, I am happy that if someone is trying to be a bad actor, they are often limited to their sandbox and Apple takes care of them quickly. They even did the same thing to Facebook. Every time I see a company like BlueMail whining, it's obvious to me that the developers should just stick with Android and Windows to get away with things they want to get away with.

The right way isn't to cry foul when you're caught doing something bad. The right way is to open a conversation with your Apple Developer Relations contact and work with Apple to either change policy or understand if your business is going to work in the Apple ecosystem. Suing them for upholding their own policies and rules is like suing your landlord when you are breaking the lease, the judge is going to laugh and throw it out, while you're making no one but lawyers richer.
It’s very rare that I read comments that make sense like this.
 

ss2cire

macrumors newbie
Jun 18, 2008
10
20
Earth?
I just looked up the app on the MAS and, while it only has 8 ratings, it's 2.5 stars average... half the reviews are bad, mind you a couple are within the last couple days... based on the reviews it looks like it's not a very good app? anyone have any actual experience with it? I'm perfectly fine with Apple Mail... so this app is obviously not for me.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
6,526
1,020
Baltimore, Maryland
I just looked up the app on the MAS and, while it only has 8 ratings, it's 2.5 stars average... half the reviews are bad, mind you a couple are within the last couple days... based on the reviews it looks like it's not a very good app? anyone have any actual experience with it? I'm perfectly fine with Apple Mail... so this app is obviously not for me.
See my post #7. In a few minutes I could see that it's not for me.