We hope the App Store can improve, that the review times can be shorter, the revisions smarter, and that everyone can focus on developing important apps. Now, however, the platform is a mess. The chorus of disenchanted growing developers and we also add our voice. Rogue Amoeba no longer has any intention of developing other iPhone applications, and updates for existing applications will be very rare. The iPhone platform was a great promise, but this promise was not enough.
These are the words officially expressed black on white by Rogue Amoeba, a team of developers active on Mac and, until recently, also on iPhone.
The topic touches on one of the hottest topics regarding the App Store, namely the notorious process of applying and approving apps sent to Apple. Process, in fact, that caused the departure of Rogue Amoeba. Let's recap the fact.
Among the applications on the Rogue Amoeba App Store there is also Airfoil Speakers Touch, a free program that allows you to send audio streams from your computer to iPhone and touch, with the only use of wi-fi.
Version 1.0 had been available for some time, but suffered from some bugs. So it was that in July of the current year Rogue Amoeba decided to send the 1.0.1 update, containing the bug fixes, to Apple. It seemed like a walk, but everything would have turned into an odyssey at the limits of reasonableness.
After sending, the developers of Rogue Amoeba were disapproved of the update because the application used unauthorized images: they were icons of Apple computers and Apple applications, displayed during streaming. So far so good, too bad that, at least according to Rogue Amoeba, these images were already present in version 1.0 endorsed by Apple itself and available on the App Store.
But the story would not end here, the insult would have added to the damage: the images had been made available to the developers by Apple herself, who therefore seemed to contradict herself, with a decision that seemed to follow no logic other than that of the paradox. After a second attempt by the overly optimistic managers of Rogue Amoeba, the application was refused again.
The situation was not resolved even when Rogue Amoeba attempted to explain the state of affairs to Apple, with very few results, receiving only a few interlocutory answers before being told, this time by telephone, that there was no way of seeing the application approved if those images remained.
In the end, exhausted, the managers of Rogue Amoeba decided to replace the images, inserting generic ones. Thus, on the fourth suffered attempt, Airfoil Speakers Touch received its update to version 1.0.1. Too bad that too many months have passed (even 4 and a half months since the first attempt in July) and that in the meantime users of the App Store have been able to download only a version with bugs from the Store, when the correct version was already ready for some time, but persistently blocked by Apple.
An expanding problem
Not the first time that Apple's policy and its control over the App Store applications create havoc among developers, who increasingly appreciate the Apple's censorship attitude, especially when the motivations – as in the case of Rogue Amoeba – seem to be at the limits of logic, perhaps capable of making Franz Kafka smile too.
Not for nothing just yesterday a new strip on XKCD has depopulated, which once again highlights how the App Store represents an inexhaustible source of controversy and problems, unlike – for example – the Android Market, much more “ open "and appreciated by those who want to develop freely, without the danger of having to face problems of this kind.
Apple seems to be aware that the App Store approval process in the current state of things follows too tortuous and often incomprehensible paths for most developers, to the point of having, with an unusual move, tried to make the various passages of the same transparent with a public statement by Phil Schiller. Subsequently, he also attempted to establish a system to show the approval path more clearly to the developers. But now the most difficult part remains to be done: improve the whole system in practice so as to get rid of the uncertainties and contradictions and stop before the discontent of which the Rogue Amoeba affair seems to be just the tip of the iceberg is rampant. (Edited by Giordano Araldi)