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Developer quits iPhone over App Store rejections

updated 03:40 pm EST, Fri November 13, 2009

Store is 'broken,' says company

Software developer Rogue Amoeba has claimed plans to quit iPhone development, citing what it calls the "broken" nature of the App Store approval process. In July the company submitted a bugfix for Airfoil Speakers Touch (AST), an app streaming audio from computers running the Airfoil desktop client. Amoeba complains that the corrected version has only just become available, as a result of three rejections which ultimate forced it to remove existing functionality.

All of the rejections were as a result of Apple opposition to "Apple-owned Graphic Symbols," which the first version of the software was already using to represent both originating hardware and software; for instance, an iMac streaming music via Safari. The images are said to have been taken from Mac OS X itself, in particular from libraries geared with third-party software use in mind. After the initial rejection, it took four weeks for an unaltered update to be rejected again.

Amoeba then attempted to contact Apple directly, and despite tentative hope from one employee, it took until mid-October for a third, final rejection to be received. The developer says it had no choice but to remove all images of Apple products, substituting images of software with a link to a message explaining the situation. Until the update's approval, the buggy and allegedly infringing version was left accessible to the public.

The company suggests Apple should ultimately eliminate the approval process entirely, in keeping with Mac OS development, or at least improve the process to be faster and "more intelligent." Although no new iPhone apps are planned, Amoeba does say it will make "rare" updates to existing ones.

Critics charge that the company knowingly sourced forbidden images in its code, and that it may simply have been lucky to pass approval with AST's first edition.

by MacNN Staff



  1. rytc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Come on

    Don't use other people' IP in this case artwork in commercial products you plan to make money from and then get annoyed when you get done for plagiarism later on.

  1. DanielSw

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Another hapless sleazy developer

    We hear about these various stupid moves on the part of developers and their "righteous indignation". I'd like to hear about the far more numerous successes . . . or isn't that considered news?

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Hire an artist by the image. Problem solved.

    Or rant and rave and lose revenue.

  1. JackWebb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Good move

    Rogue Amoeba is an excellent developer. I've used at least 3 of their Mac products for several years so their opinion has weight with me. The point being made here is the inefficiency of the process of approval. I'd hate to have this little control of getting a bug fix posted. This frustrates developers and makes them look bad unnecessarily. Worst of all is the uncertainty for long periods of time. It doesn't serve the users well either. I'd make the exact same choice in these circumstances. Total control of the pipeline has its ups and downs. In this case Apple apparently doesn't have the same incentive to get a product updated as the developer.

  1. Arroz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Business as usual

    Mac OS X Apps usually use icons and artwork copied from Mac OS X itself. The gear icon, the action menus below the blue left-side panels (and the blue left-side panels), for instance. All that shows up in OS X, and is copied by developers to keep a consistent look and feel with the rest of the OS. Apple never complained about that. What can't that be done on the iPhone?

  1. Gazoobee

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I always liked rogue Ameoeba but this part :

    "... The developer says it had no choice but to remove all images of Apple products, substituting images of software with a link to a message explaining the situation. ..."

    Is clearly a lie. They *have* to remove the images, but they *don't* have to put in "a link to a message explaining the situation" unless they want to be childish little pissants.

    If they want to be holier than thou, they need to have a clean record for not being a-holes themselves IMO.

  1. Darchmare

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple is in the wrong here

    For those bemoaning Rogue Amoeba's stance on this, some clarification: Their iPhone app doesn't contain Apple's images. None, zilch, nada. They are sent across the network from the Mac version of the app, and are provided using Apple's own public Mac APIs.

    Daring Fireball goes into this in more detail:

    On another note, who exactly does this hurt? It's a useful app by a well-known Mac developer that makes both the Mac and the iPhone more useful to Apple's customers. Even _if_ you can support the idea that this is technically a violation of the SDK agreement - which seems tenuous at best - Apple risks cutting off its nose to spite its face.

    If they're not careful, they're going to lose many of their best developers. People are going to get tired of spending massive amounts of time and money developing for a platform only to have their products rejected for dumb reasons such as this (and it doesn't help that the rejections take a month or more). In the long run, all we'll get are f*** apps.

    I'm an Apple fan (and stockholder, developer, etc) through and through, but just because Apple does something does not make it inherently right. If you love Apple and/or their products, understand that this sort of stuff hurts the platform in the long run and shouldn't be supported or defended.

  1. gmsquires

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Developer didn't use IP

    As usual the "shoot from the hip crowd" who don't have a clue as to what was going on sticks their foot in their collective mouths. I would suggest reading Darring Fireball's cogent analysis of the situation and a response to one of the Apple supporters.

    Bottom line, the Rogue Amoeba developer didn't place any Apple restricted IP, logos, icons or other code in their program. The program's display of the Apple icons was streamed information direct from the Airfoil app working on the Mac doing the streaming. In other words, the icons are coming direct from Apples own API's, not from the program on the iPhone or the program running on the Mac.

    This is no different than some of the iPhone apps that let you log into your Mac and you can see your desktop. By logical extrapolation of the denial of this app, then these apps too should be denied as well because they are showing the same icons and other ip direct from Apple's own APIs and desktop.

  1. Raman

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I'm glad Rogue Amoeba made so much money developing software that they could abandon the iPhone platform altogether. Congratulations, guys. I'll be sure to consider this when looking at buying one of their Desktop apps hoping for a companion iPhone app.

  1. Darchmare

    Joined: Dec 1969



    They didn't quit because they made "so much money".

    It's actually pretty likely that Apple's maneuverings and delays have cost them a lot of money in the form of marketing and development costs.

    If you want iPhone companion apps so bad, a productive step would be let Apple know that they need to treat iPhone developers - the ones responsible for "there's an app for that" - in a more fair and reasonable manner. Making them wait a month or more for simple answers and rejecting them for what are essentially bogus non-issues helps nobody; Not developers, not users, not even Apple itself.

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