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Apple's App Store Rejection Policies Raise Concerns

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Apr 12, 2001
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When the App Store was first introduced, Apple specified that apps would have to be approved before being allowed into the App Store. The reasoning for this approval process was to weed out applications that were against Apple's terms of service. This was said to include potentially abusive and inappropriate apps. While there have been a few applications that have been rejected on these grounds, there is increasing concern about App Store rejections due to overly vague reasons.

The most recent case is from a developer who created an application called Podcaster. Podcaster is an application which allows you to subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts directly to your iPhone and iPod Touch. A video demo of the application can be seen at NextDayOff.com. Podcaster was rejected for inclusion into the App Store.

The developer published the rejection letter which cites duplication of iTunes functionality for the reason for rejection:
Apple Rep says: Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.
DaringFireball sums up the concern amongst some developers about this policy:
If you only find out at the end of the development process that your app has been rejected — not for a technical problem that you can address but because Apple deems the entire concept to be out of bounds — then who is going to put serious time and talent into an iPhone app?
Developer Fraser Speirs is amongst the developers outraged by this policy and offers suggestions on how Apple should address this. Some of the suggestions include clear exclusion rules, an App Store evangelist, and the ability for developers to get pre-authorization for application ideas.

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fishmoose

macrumors 68000
Jul 1, 2008
1,741
188
Sweden
Bummer this is the only thing i miss from the iphone, be able to download podcast on my iphone instead in itunes then sync is worth a lot of money to me!

Apple don't be stupid!!
 
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RHutch

macrumors 6502
May 21, 2003
291
0
Amsterdam, OH
Why should Apple reject an app because it duplicates functionality? The app in the article also does things that iTunes does not. Isn't this the same (actually worse) than the way that Microsoft pushed IE to the detriment of Netscape and other browsers (and the users)?
 
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Veri

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2007
611
0
no surprise

I've advised people to hold off on iPhone development for this very reason, and I recall making some posts here on similar lines; the response was generally "Apple would never do that!" because it would discourage developers, etc. Yet Apple make it quite clear in their licensing agreement that they can terminate your iPhone developer agreement for any reason they please - and, as any fule kno, if the stronger side in an agreement gives itself more power than is reasonable, it will eventually abuse it.

Thinking hypothetically about spending $99 for the "privilege" of writing a useful free app for the mere love of coding then finding it's rejected because it competes with Apple's own offering is enough to discourage me from writing for the platform.
 
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Padraig

macrumors 6502a
Dec 12, 2005
601
0
This is unacceptable behaviour from Apple and another reason why I'll be sticking with S60.
 
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danbirchall

macrumors member
Sep 17, 2002
61
0
Why should developers reinvent the wheel?

As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.
 
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207134

Guest
Jul 19, 2008
2
0
Perhaps they are working on their own podcast app or more likely service providers just don't want to deal with the bandwidth used by something like this.
 
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tyr2

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2006
810
114
Leeds, UK
As a paid up iPhone developer I find this news very concerning. How is duplication (and enhancement) of pre exiting phone features a valid reason for exclusion? I don't remember reading anything along these lines in the various agreements that exist between a developer and Apple other than a generic 'Apple can reject your application for any reason'.

Since the App Store is such a essential part of the sales pitch for iPhone and iPod touch (witness the more that 600 games available claims from the 'Let's Rock' presentation) Apple really needs to be careful that they don't scare away the development community from the platform.

Clearly must better definitions of what is and what is not permitted need to be published, the internal reviewers must be working from a set of guidelines, these need to be published externally.
 
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kolax

macrumors G3
Mar 20, 2007
9,181
115
I wouldn't be surprised if Apple offered to buy 'Podcaster' and include it in iPhone 2.2 or iPhone 3.0.
 
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-g-

macrumors newbie
Feb 3, 2008
13
0
I don't see how this is duplicating functionality. Currently I can't subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts on my iPhone. I would love to have this application.
 
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daneoni

macrumors G4
Mar 24, 2006
10,807
79
Seems pretty draconian since the iTunes app on the phone doesn't do podcast BUT

Perhaps they are working on their own podcast app or more likely service providers just don't want to deal with the bandwidth used by something like this.

This could be a valid explanation
 
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macgruder

macrumors 6502
Oct 29, 2007
280
0
UK
As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.

They are not reinventing the wheel. They are creating competition. If you don't want it, you don't have to install it or buy it. Healthy competition between similar apps is a good thing as it drives improvement and innovation.
 
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appie57

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2006
375
0
Netherlands
I do a language course (Chinesepod) which in part is distributed through a podcast and already several times I wished there was a capability like Podcaster. I suspect Apple itself is working on this. Buy it or admit it to the App Store, Apple!:mad:
 
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kornyboy

macrumors 68000
Sep 27, 2004
1,529
0
Knoxville, TN (USA)
Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5F136 Safari/525.20)

I can understand why Apple would reject an App like the Podcaster, but it would be really neat to have. This is unfortunate.
 
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Veri

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2007
611
0
As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.
I appreciate that perhaps this app would not be useful to you, however:

(1) Its functionality doesn't already exist - it provides a way to grab podcasts without sitting near a PC/Mac;

(2) Even if it did entirely duplicate built-in functionality in a different way, that way might be preferred by some users;

(3) Since there's no obligation to use any app on the iPhone store, it doesn't matter if the store includes apps you don't like. If you think a better app review system would be useful, make your million by starting up a 3rd party voluntary review site;

(4) Developers won't necessarily program what you want just because you tell them that they can't write what they want.

[edit] It is in your interest that the app is accepted: scaring developers off will make it less likely that someone develops what you want.
 
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chameleon81

macrumors 6502
May 16, 2006
434
0
As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.

Developers should be free to decide what they want to create or not. It should be up to market ( consumers ) not up to apple what is being produced or not. In my opinion apple is more greedy than MS.
 
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dacreativeguy

macrumors 68020
Jan 27, 2007
2,019
212
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5F136 Safari/525.20)

why spend time developing an innovative, exciting app that may be rejected when you can just slap together a Christmas, election, or new years countdown app and charge 99 cents for it?

But wait. Doesn't a countdown to a date duplicate the functionality of iCal or the built in clock/timer?

The app store submission validation process has been pretty arbitrary and inconsistent from day 1.
 
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tjcampbell

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2006
826
0
Vancouver
This guy needs to suck it up and move on.

Authors and screenwriters toil over books and film scripts for years never knowing if they'll even get an agent to read it let alone give the project the green light.

They can't just ring up Random House and say "If I write a book about xxxxx will you publish it?"

It's just not the way the world works.

You put in the time and hope it gets a go. If it doesn't, you move on to the next project.
 
Comment

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,515
5,406
Canada
What I feared is now being realized... Apple are beginning to abuse the very developers they depend on to make a rich software base for the iPhone.

I hope developers take a serious look at the iPhone and in many cases, abandon the platform. Apple will then hopefully rethink its policy and relax them.

So what if there is duplicate functionality - no one is forced to download and use. It creates competition amongst Apple and developers, obviously something that Apple doesn't like.

If this was Microsoft, there would be murder on these forums.

This guy needs to suck it up and move on.

Authors and screenwriters toil over books and film scripts for years never knowing if they'll even get an agent to read it let alone give the project the green light.

They can't just ring up Random House and say "If I write a book about xxxxx will you publish it?"

It's just not the way the world works.

You put in the time and hope it gets a go. If it doesn't, you move on to the next project.

Its how it works for every other smartphone platform, and indeed, desktop o/s. Why isn't it good enough for Apple + iPhone?

You know, Apple don't always make good decisions, its about time that people realized this and stop acting like sheep.
 
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Ademius

macrumors regular
Mar 21, 2008
114
0
unacceptable

Damn. I want Podcaster bad :(

This is unacceptable behaviour from Apple. The vague and unclear rejections must stop. There must be evident rules, much like the ones presented during the announcement of the App store, not hidden rules.

And it's not only just that, but there's severe limitations to the SDK user agreement (e.g. no background apps, sandboxed et cetera) and also the riddiculous terms of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

All this is preventing really useful apps to make it to the iPhone platform, thus encouraging jailbreaking.
 
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