Apple: Be more transparent!

Apple is a very secrative organization, they value their secrecy because it builds up a hype around the products. I love Apple products, I am what most people call a Apple fan-boy. But I think recent events regarding the App Store aproval process must be addressed in a negative fashion.

I love the fact that Apple have created great development tools for the iPhone and they have done so for free. This have given the iPhone eco-system a great boost and in less than a year they have succeeded in creating a development community that it’s competitors haven’t succeeded with yet.

I really believe that the App Store is a big reason for the success, all applications gathered and easy to browse / search. But the App Store is also the big sign of weakness in the iPhone eco-system. As you might already know, Apple is the gatekeeper for everything going into the App Store to make sure that “malicious” and “offensive” applications stay far away from the iPhone. While this makes sense (you don’t want viruses spreading via the App Store) in some ways the big problem is actually that Apple have so far refused to share any details on the approval process.

This creates big problems, not only because it’s hard for developers to know if their application will ultimately be accepted or not, but also because currently it seems like the process is very random, some of them have gotten a lot of attention. The latest application that have gotten the metaphorical cold hand was Nine Inch Nail own application. The application was actually first accepted (and put on the “featured” page in App Store), when NIN then submitted a minor update it was rejected because of “objectionable content”.

Probably this occurred because different people reviewed the first submission and the update. This really makes the flaw in the process really apparent, the developer can never trust the Apple approval process. If this continues I wouldn’t be surprised if small indie developers think twice before they start develop iPhone applications and that would really be a shame, because it will in the long run kill the community.

I think that Apple have to be more transparent, really post the guidelines that are used for the approval process or even better, small developers should be able to “test drive” their idea and get a pre-aproval. That would make it easier for the small developer to justify the investment they need to do to create a iPhone application.

Maybe another solution would be to “do a Maemo”. Maemo have a staging area called the “garage” where third party developers can upload basically anything they want, users needs to manually install them. This would allow Apple to review applications for the App Store, but applications that are deemed “offensive” can still be installed on willing users iPhones.

Please Apple, don’t destroy a good thing you have going on here, a free SDK was a great idea, the App Store was a super idea as well but your approval process can throw it all overboard. Be transparent, let the developers in on the secrets in this case.


theefer said...

Yes, we want pr0n apps! ;_;

Now even if I agree with tru's call, and sometimes the community can pressure a company to change its position, you have to take responsibility for buying and supporting an Apple product. It all comes as a package, including the nice design and closed-minded philosophy.

PS: Supposedly parental control in v3.0 will allow more freedom.

Tobias Rundström said...

Absolutely, I agree. I buy Apple products and agree to the closed-minded packaging in many ways. I do this because to this date I haven't found any other product that works nearly as well for my work and home situation.

I also accept this due to the fact that the platform is pretty open, there are many many things and third-party apps that I can't live without. It's of course nothing near the flexibility of Linux, but it's a good trade-off for me.

So I guess my point in the original post was that if Apple allowed ad-hoc distribution of applications I wouldn't mind. That is how the desktop world works like.