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Apple policies drive Facebook iPhone app developer to quit

updated 11:15 pm EST, Wed November 11, 2009

Dev "philisophically opposed" to Apple's policies

Developer Joe Hewitt, the driving force behind Facebook's iPhone app, has quit working with Apple's platform to protest the company's review policies, according to TechCrunch. The well-known developer passed off the project to another software engineer, although he will still work with Facebook on projects for other platforms.

"My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple's policies," Hewitt says. "I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer."

Apple has been criticized by a wide range of developers for various reasons. Many have complained that the company's review policies are inconsistent and nonsensical at times. Others have accused the review team of leaving an app in limbo for months at a time, sometimes as money is wasted on futile marketing efforts if an approval is never reached.

"In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users," said Hewitt.

Apple recently revamped its Dev Center to provide status information including dates when the app is received for review, enters the process, and arrives on the App Store. It is unclear if the company plans on making additional changes to quell the objections.

by MacNN Staff





  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Dear Joe,
    I'm sure you are a nice and talented developer. Sorry you are having to "deal", but such is life. When you grow up and develop a platform yourself, then maybe you can set your own rules. Until then, you'll always have someone to bow to. Hope you have fun making an impact on those other platforms. Maybe we'll hear of you again someday when you make a triumphant return to the iPhone platform.

    Enjoy the holidays and happy new year!

  1. russellb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Get a Life

    "I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process."

    While sad to see ... until you go develop your own platform as I see it Apple has every right to do what they want.

    I for one would much rather get good quality apps that have to pass review than let the platform go wild with no controls ....

    Yes I agree that Apple might be a little restrictive BUT making a blank statement "I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process." to me ignores the fact that it has at least kept the platform in control.

    There are enough c*** apps on the Iphone store without opening the gates to apps that can play havoc with my phone, with my data, with my phone records etc etc

    Comment buried. Show
  1. herojig

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I agree with Joe...

    The whole platform is flawed. Everyone I know outside of the US uses a cracked iphone and gets apps from Appulous anyway. American/EU software developers and platform creators are living in a dream world...someday they may wake up to reality and realize they can't control human nature, and give up on the nanny state and get down to serious endeavors.

  1. DanielSw

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This guy is an idiot

    Apple bends over backwards to provide a third-party development platform along with a store and a decent 70-30 split, and these miscreant jokers who can't follow a few rules, bust themselves out of a good thing and go off into never-never land, like a child who can't follow a few rules at home, for his precious "freedom."

    This is not just *any* development platform. Apple has to ensure that no app will damage the user experience, because it's not just a computer, it's a PHONE, and it works on a public network. It has to work reliably and it has to work well.

    We have yet to see any other smart phone work as well and build such a broad user base like the iPhone has in only a few years. The Pre was a no-starter, and what's to say the Droid other Android toys won't do same.

    Oh yes, there's that precious "freedom" that jailbreakers and hackers and tinkerers and big-egoed code jockeys just crave. Yeah, we really need multitasking. Never mind sucky battery life.

    Well lets just see a cell network brought down by some of these wonderful devices and then we'll see some restrictions--big time. Let's see the FCC shut you people down!

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    "...soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer."

    Better to have that than every software developer infesting our lives with malware, crapware and adware.

    I wonder how he feels "philosophically" about Facebook's privacy policies - much more dangerous than the App Store.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What a moron. QA is as important as development

    Speaking as a developer on server/desktop platforms, I think Joe should be ashamed of himself. I know that developers are generally antagonist toward the QA process but Apple's review and QA process actually protects him from potential lawsuits from users would might download his app and lose data or potentially have their personal information exposed to the world through a bug in his code or the facebook api.

    For shame Joe.

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    out of control

    Sorry Joe... no empathy or sympathy here.
    You know Apple's process, apparently you are doing "something," whatever it is, or, not doing something, whatever it is, that messes with Apple's systems. Your alternative is to invent your own platform. An awful lot of apps are on there, over 100,000... apparently someone is satisfying Apple, you and the other whiners just aren't the ones.

    I know, you are young and no one understands what you are trying to do or want to do. Fact is, you are violating a basic rule of business that calls for spending $$$ without knowing how it is going to be received. This happens in the real world Joe in EVERY other business... get over it.


    Joined: Dec 1969


    he's absolutely right

    I've somehow managed to discover an enormous amount of software, games and music that I greatly enjoy without a middleman artificially limiting the range of possibilities available to me.

    Of course it's totally within Apple's rights to decide how best to service their platforms and customers. That right does not mean that they -are- right, however.

    If you can't find any fault in how Apple manages the App Store, try to imagine that process applied to some other medium that you maybe care more about.

  1. deong

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'm stunned by the comments here...

    I'm as big of an Apple fan as any sane person going, but you people are delusional.

    Apple isn't doing QA, and they aren't upholding the great Apple standards of decency. No one seems to know what they're doing, but it isn't either of those two things. If Apple wants to serve as the gatekeepers to their platform, they're free to do so, but they've proven beyond the shadow of doubt that their incompetence at that task is boundless. There isn't anyone alive doing anything as badly as Apple is managing the app store.

    They reject apps for having caricatures of political figures that are exactly like those published in dozens of respected newspaper editorials every day. They reject a book about the iPhone for using the word "iPhone" in the title. They reject twitter apps because they saw a curse word come from someone's twitter feed. They reject ebook readers when their "reviewers" explicitly search for the Kama Sutra. They rate wikipedia as an adult app (along with every other app that allows internet access, despite offering no such warnings for Safari). They reject apps for "duplicating" features that don't exist, but which they might think they might consider doing themselves someday. They reject apps, then try and tell us that they're "considering" it. That's when they tell you anything at all, and getting that much information requires the FCC to intervene.

    Meanwhile, they let in tethering apps, then remove them. They let in Shaken Baby, then remove it. They let in other iPhone books that use the word "iPhone" (still there). They let in "Hot Girls Who f*** Light!" (I know what you're thinking...who knew there was a free version of the superb "Hot Girls Who f***".) Actually, I could fill the next couple of hours typing the names of f*** applications. I counted 74 on the first half of the first page of results before I became to disgusted to continue.

    The shame of it is that their policies allow them to do something useful; they simply choose not to. For all the benefits of an open platform, you do have to worry about the store being polluted with garbage. Apple's willingness to say, "we don't need a reason to reject your app" should let them run a clean ship. When someone submits a genuinely useful and serious app, Apple's capriciousness is legendary. However, as soon as the next bikini app or f*** app, or flashlight, or tip calculator, or vaguely spammy front end to a single google search app comes along, they seem to pretend that they don't have the right to "protect their platform," and they give it an automatic pass. That 30% of whatever c*** people are willing to buy has clearly overruled any concerns about the sanctity of the platform.

    It's gone beyond the point in which simple incompetence ceased to be a plausible explanation. They repeatedly reject apps which you could poll 100,000 people and not find a single one who found the app objectionable in any way (the latest example being the congressional representative app, but wait two days and we'll get another example). I love my iPhone, but I really hope Verizon takes them to task with the Droid ads. "Need to make a wet f*** noise? There's a hundred thousand apps for that."

  1. derbbre

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Might have some gravity coming from someone who could develop a decent iPhone app. Facebook's iPhone app is a severe POS.

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