Rogue Amoeba Retreats from iPhone Development Over App Store Policies

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
49,579
10,893
https://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogodarkd.png

In yet another example of a high-profile developer team stepping back from Apple's App Store, Rogue Amoeba today announced in a lengthy blog post that it will no longer develop applications for the iPhone following an extended run-in with App Store reviewers over a bug fix update to the company's Airfoil Speakers Touch application. The application allows users to stream any audio content from a host computer directly to an iPhone or iPod touch.

In simplest terms, Apple's objections to the use of "Apple Logo and Apple-owned Graphic Symbols" in the application led to multiple rejections of an update designed to fix a critical performance bug, leading to a delay of over three and a half months before the updated version was finally approved and made available to the public.

While Apple's objections to the use of Apple-owned images in iPhone applications are well-known, Rogue Amoeba's situation was rather unique in that the images did not originate from the iPhone application itself, but were being sent from the host computer sending audio to the device. Those images were generated using Mac OS X tools specifically designed to aid developers in this process.
As you can see, Airfoil Speakers Touch displays an image of the sending Mac, with a screenshot showing the source application. If you're sending from an iMac with Safari as your source (as pictured), it shows your iMac running Safari. If you're sending from a MacBook Pro, it shows a MacBook Pro, and so on. These computer images are provided by Mac OS X itself, using a public function expressly for this purpose.

We also show the source application's icon - Safari in the above example. This icon also comes from a public function provided by Apple as part of Mac OS X. These functions are expressly made to enable developers to get this artwork, and use it just as we are.
After multiple rejections, including one involving a sympathetic Apple employee who attempted to assist with the situation, Rogue Amoeba was finally able to satisfy Apple's reviewers by stripping out the "Apple-owned" images and substituting in an image of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) logo linked to an explanation page detailing the company's difficulties with Apple.

The lengthy and frustrating experience has clearly led the developers to reevaluate their efforts for the iPhone platform, and they have decided to step back from further App Store development.
The chorus of disenchanted developers is growing and we're adding our voices as well. Rogue Amoeba no longer has any plans for additional iPhone applications, and updates to our existing iPhone applications will likely be rare. The iPhone platform had great promise, but that promise is not enough, so we're focusing on the Mac.
Article Link: Rogue Amoeba Retreats from iPhone Development Over App Store Policies
 

jaw04005

macrumors 601
Aug 19, 2003
4,370
16
AR
Well, I’ve dismissed most of the other complaints. But this is Rogue Amoeba. Phil Schiller needs to get involved with this immediately — completely unacceptable. They are one of the premier Mac shareware developers.
 

grahamwright1

macrumors regular
Feb 10, 2008
120
23
North of the Border
In simplest terms, Apple's objections to the use of "Apple Logo and Apple-owned Graphic Symbols" in the application led to multiple rejections of an update designed to fix a critical performance bug, leading to a delay of over three and a half months before the updated version was finally approved and made available to the public.
This is very disheartening since they were using information specifically supplied by Apple for the use of developers. It's time for a significant revamping of the approval process before we see any more problems like this!
 

XciteMe

macrumors 6502
May 21, 2009
450
1
Santa Monica, CA
Why does Apple think it's okay to continually alienate and turn away developers?? :confused: Why do fanboys continue to excuse such incidences? Why aren't people SICK of this kind of behavior from Apple? :mad:
 

dvkid

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2006
166
44
Why does Apple think it's okay to continually alienate and turn away developers?? :confused: Why do fanboys continue to excuse such incidences? Why aren't people SICK of this kind of behavior from Apple? :mad:
Obviously people are. Rogue Amoeba and Joe Hewitt both jumping ship on the same day doesn't seem to be a coincidence to me.

However, until this has a noticeable impact on the user, most won't be as upset as the developers are. Facebook will continue where Joe left off, and Rogue Amoeba's app served a very specific audience (albeit very well). If Facebook were to, say, remove their app from the store, then this might hit people's radar in a meaningful way.
 

dvkid

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2006
166
44
Lets see how long they will stay away. There are buckets of DOLLARS waiting to be made in the App Store.
The app talked about in this discussion was free, offered as an added-value feature of the desktop application. While useful, it was never the core feature of the purchased product.

Rogue Amoeba's only other app, a radio tuner, sold for $9.99 but saw only middle of the road reviews and likely did not fare as well as the $1.99 radio apps.
 

Cartaphilus

macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2007
572
38
Rogue Amoeba offers terrific programs. I don't use Speakers on my iPhone very often, but Airfoil and its associated programs (Sunflower, Instant Hijack) run on my MBP very frequently.

I certainly understand Apple's need to protect its intellectual property and to ensure there is a clear distinction in consumers' minds between what portion of the iPhone experience reflects Apple's efforts and what portion is provided by others. Nonetheless, when dealing with partners whose employees tend to be computer science experts rather than legal experts, and where the partner has demonstrated a real commitment to Apple's platforms and a real ability to deliver Apple-worthy products, I think Apple would be wise to go the extra mile to make life easier for these partners.

As another poster implied, when some amateur developer gripes about Apple's approval process it's one thing, but when a developer of the caliber of Rogue Amoeba backs away, it's time for Apple to respond constructively.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,238
5
the tide is turning against Apple here, they need to clean up their act and get this whole thing working better.

i understand the walled-garden approach and respect that, but they also need to get the store cleaned up/organized and they need to work better with developers - which might just mean hiring more people to work with them on a daily basis.
 

175170

Cancelled
Mar 28, 2008
964
0
Aplenty needs to clean up their act here.
Rogue isn't a small homegrown company, they deserve to be respected. With policies like this, the App Store might just eventually die.
 

dejo

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 2, 2004
15,981
450
The Centennial State
Jeff LaMarche's (co-author of "Beginning iPhone Development") take on this situation:

http://iphonedevelopment.blogspot.com/2009/11/rogue-amoeba.html

I'm going to risk the ire of the maddening crowd once more, but I think somebody needs to come to Apple's defense this time. I love a good mob scene as much as the next guy, and I keep my pitchfork nice and sharp just in case the need should arise. But… the picture that Rogue Amoeba has painted in their farewell post doesn't look quite so black and white to me. Certainly, Apple could have handled many things about the situation better, but so could have Rogue Amoeba.
I definitely can see both sides of the argument. And I speak from personal experience. One of my company's apps, [app]CraigsHarvest[/app], was rejected for a similar reason: we had included a cropped version of the Setting app icon in our help file, in order to better direct our users to where to changes their settings. But Apple rejected it because we were using their icon. So, we complied and removed its usage.

But there has to be some kinda happy, middle-ground here. There already are a number of Apple-owned icons that we are allowed (in fact, encouraged) to use, such as Compose, Action, Bookmark (see below attached images). Maybe Apple could expand the range of images, icons, etc. they own that we, as developers, could be allowed to use.
 

Attachments

DaveGee

macrumors 6502a
Jul 25, 2001
677
2
the tide is turning against Apple here, they need to clean up their act and get this whole thing working better.

i understand the walled-garden approach and respect that, but they also need to get the store cleaned up/organized and they need to work better with developers - which might just mean hiring more people to work with them on a daily basis.
Not to be an I TOLD YOU SO type of guy BUT.... :D

I've been trying to get people to understand that the Apple's doctoral grasp has over the App store was something that NEEDED to be addressed and people kept drinking the koolaid saying... It's ONLY one or two Apps.... we don't need to worry... then it was HEY its ONLY google and Apple has every right to axe their Apps cause they are getting too BIG...

Well now other developers are starting to pull back.. Developers who people FINALLY seem to care about... Well all I have to say is welcome to the party nice to see you're finally seeing the light. :confused:
 

venasque

macrumors member
May 13, 2008
43
0
I've always felt the sheer number of applications available for the iphone was a huge advantage to the platform. But if this bad press continues Apple will lose this advantage. I want quality applications not junk.

What bothers me most about the above is the inability of anyone in charge to THINK. They just blindly follow "rules" laid out without stopping to use their greatest gift; their brains.

Apple needs to get on top of this right away. They need to understand this is a learning process and adapt/amend procedures that don't work. I appreciate that they are trying to do, but junk still gets through and quality is being driven away in frustration. :(
 

seashellz

macrumors 6502
Nov 18, 2004
407
0
99% of these are in a huff self important 'tempest in a teapot' stories;
its not required-nay not even helpful to be a fanboy to point this out-just 2 good eyes and a brain;
Alway been complainers, always will be;
If the rules are clearly spelled out and they dont follow them-then they shouldnt be crybabies in public
simple
CAREFULLY read APPLEs developers rules
follow them
dont try to breach them
 

w00master

macrumors 65816
Jul 18, 2002
1,120
304
Jeff LaMarche's (co-author of "Beginning iPhone Development") take on this situation:

http://iphonedevelopment.blogspot.com/2009/11/rogue-amoeba.html



I definitely can see both sides of the argument. And I speak from personal experience. One of my company's apps, [app]CraigsHarvest[/app], was rejected for a similar reason: we had included a cropped version of the Setting app icon in our help file, in order to better direct our users to where to changes their settings. But Apple rejected it because we were using their icon. So, we complied and removed its usage.

But there has to be some kinda happy, middle-ground here. There already are a number of Apple-owned icons that we are allowed (in fact, encouraged) to use, such as Compose, Action, Bookmark (see below attached images). Maybe Apple could expand the range of images, icons, etc. they own that we, as developers, could be allowed to use.
And Gruber's response to this response:

http://daringfireball.net/2009/11/airfoil_touch_situation


Sorry, but imho there is absolutely *no* reason to defend Apple here.

w00master
 

rstansby

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2007
493
0
On the surface, Apple's position on this specific application seems ridiculous. Having said that, I don't know if the App store approval process changes much. If the iPhone was open to any application, then Apple could have taken legal action against Rogue Amoeba. I suppose it would be more difficult than just denying the app, but Apple would have a way to squash this app, if they wanted to.
 

w00master

macrumors 65816
Jul 18, 2002
1,120
304
On the surface, Apple's position on this specific application seems ridiculous. Having said that, I don't know if the App store approval process changes much. If the iPhone was open to any application, then Apple could have taken legal action against Rogue Amoeba. I suppose it would be more difficult than just denying the app, but Apple would have a way to squash this app, if they wanted to.
I have to disagree. Rogue Amoeba in *no way* violated Trademark or Copyright rules with this. In fact, they used Apple's own OS X APIs.

w00master
 

seashellz

macrumors 6502
Nov 18, 2004
407
0
99% of these are in a huff self important 'tempest in a teapot' stories;
its not required-nay not even helpful to be a fanboy to point this out-just 2 good eyes and a brain;
Alway been complainers, always will be;
If the rules are clearly spelled out and they dont follow them-then they shouldnt be crybabies in public
simple
CAREFULLY read APPLEs developers rules
follow them
dont try to breach them

you dont need a PhD to understand this
 

hotshotharry

macrumors 6502
Sep 6, 2007
315
0
My only complaint about apple is their overprotective nature regarding the iPhone ! It's perhaps the single biggest reason why people are reluctant to switch! Many of my friends feel that paying a premium and not being allowed to do what they want is a deal breaker! I understand that apple needs to protect it's user experience but as an advanced user I find myself becoming more frustated at the lack of flexibility!

I believe that this aspect will be apples biggest problem! I mean ... Just let me do what I want ! I am even willing to click a pop up that says you might f up your phone and have to restore it if you do this !

I applaud the developers for taking a stand! It's a great platform! But has fundamental flaws that need to be fixed before it can be truly great !

I think actually I'm going to fill in some feedback forms for apple saying just that! I encourage all of you to do the same !!!!
 

maknik

macrumors regular
May 17, 2006
172
53
There is no real-world solution to this problem as long as Apple insists on vetting every app and update. No company can be perfect in such a vast (many thousands a week) undertaking, so every developer runs the risk that his app will be caught in some bizarre limbo while an easily-fixed bug sits out there slowly damaging the developer's name. Unfortunately, there are only two solutions to this problem: customer pressure for Apple to reduce its oversight (followed by complaints by those apparently scared of having to vet applications on their own), or lawsuits. I suspect the latter is the only plausible solution.
 

w00master

macrumors 65816
Jul 18, 2002
1,120
304
99% of these are in a huff self important 'tempest in a teapot' stories;
its not required-nay not even helpful to be a fanboy to point this out-just 2 good eyes and a brain;
Alway been complainers, always will be;
If the rules are clearly spelled out and they dont follow them-then they shouldnt be crybabies in public
simple
CAREFULLY read APPLEs developers rules
follow them
dont try to breach them

you dont need a PhD to understand this
So, did you even READ what Rogue Amoeba had to say?

I'm seriously amazed with you apologists. You guys are defending Apple in an instance where they are CLEARLY in the wrong.

w00master
 

bstpierre

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2008
542
155
I have to disagree. Rogue Amoeba in *no way* violated Trademark or Copyright rules with this. In fact, they used Apple's own OS X APIs.

w00master
I agree with you. If they are using an image sent by Mac OS X for just such a purpose they are not doing anything wrong.

It makes me think that maybe there are some lowly app reviewers who are letting the power go to their heads.
 

Makosuke

macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
6,193
402
The Cool Part of CA, USA
With policies like this, the App Store might just eventually die.
Yeah, right. It would take a whole lot more than a few dozen (heck, a few HUNDRED) cheesed-off developers to kill the app store. If they turned all development off today, it would still be successful.

That said, when Rogue Amoeba jumps ship over what seems a pretty blatant case of policy clashing with logic and common sense, that's a bad sign that you're doing stuff wrong.

It's not 100% black and white, but really, Apple should be doing a better job than this. They do seem to be gradually improving--there have been many signs that they ARE listening to the complaints, and moving toward addressing at least some of them--but the company should be doing more.

If anything, I'd much rather the app store approval process were brutally exclusionary about apps with bugs or ugly/non-"iPhone-like" UIs than nit-picking branding issues.

Basically, if the walled garden had a bouncer who was a style-nazi I'd be much happier than the relatively lenient lawyer currently standing at the gate.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.