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Category Archive for ‘Apple’ rss

This Certificate Has Expired

Has it been 6 months already?

My development and distribution certificates expired much to my surprise while I was sitting on the train. Well actually it had expired the previous night, but it only transpired to me the first time I wanted to Build&Go while en route to Vienna. Which mildly annoyed me at first, but then I found that I can backdate my computers clock two days and restart XCode to allow for temporary continuation of some on-device testing.
Certificate has expired

To renew my certificates I logged into the program portal which already knew that I “currently do not have a valid certificate”. I used the keychain’s certificate assistant to generate the requests saved to disk and submitted them to apple for countersigning.

One thing that confused me was that now the name of the development certificate contains some additional string. I thought that maybe that was appended because I did not remove the expired certificates first, but even when I redid the whole process I did not get rid of it. Another surprise courtesy of Apple.

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Don't mention SDK/OS 3.0!

If you have any kind of updates that you are publishing right now, please don’t make the mistake of mentioning something like “made compatible with OS 3.0″. A developer friend of mine had his application update rejected because of this.

If Apple Reviewers see such a statement you will get rejected with a lengthy reply stating that the next version is confidential and you are in breach of paragraph §2.1 SDK Agreement.

“…Apple may provide You with pre-release versions of the SDK that constitute Apple Confidential Information and are subject to the confidentiality obligations of this Agreement.”

It will save you a week if you don’t do the above.

Minutes after I posted this heads-up on a forum I was seconded:

I can confirm this too. Got all our apps caught in this trap.
Don’t mention 3.0. anywhere! =P

So in summary you have to make sure that your apps run on a OS 3.0 device, but you cannot mention that you took this effort in the release notes because even mentioning OS 3.0 is illegal. Coming to think of it, I have mentioned OS 3.0 now 5 times, I hope that Austria is to far off for Apple lawyers to serve me a cease and desist.

“But I meant it well! All in the interest of the community!” will be my famous last words when I will get dragged off to jail.

Apple Rejects iPhone-Damaging App

The first app that I submitted to apple, back in October 2008, I called DropClock. It basically measures freefall time and calculates distance fallen from the time the iPhone was falling. It’s meant as a joke of course. This is not what I meant when I wrote about making your apps crash proof.

If you drop the iPhone three times over a certain height an image of a cracked screen is shown and the iphone does not react to input for 20 seconds. Then a button saying “Ha Ha!” appears that takes you back to the main screen.

At the time I figured that I would make millions with this simple app due to it’s novelty factor. But such instant wealth never materialized. Instead I had to wait for 7 months, contacting the review team three times about it. Finally Apple has handed down it’s verdict:

Thank you for submitting DropClock to the App Store. We’ve reviewed DropClock and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store at this time because it encourages a physical activity that could result in a customer damaging their iPhone. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.

If you believe you can make the necessary modifications to bring your application in compliance with iPhone Software License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.

I am not extremely sad about this as DropClock was just a silly experiment which only took me a day to implement. But several things can be learned from this experience. If your app is so unique that it does not fit with any of the SDK agreement paragraphs most likely Apple will take up to 7 months of not reacting on your submission. Previously I called this “Neverending Review Bin”, now I know that it extends to about half a year.

The second interesting fact though seems to be that Apple feels that they need to protect silly customers from hurting their phones. Law over here in Europe does not blame the manufacturer of a device if a nitwit damages this device. In the US however it’s not unheard of that sombody sues the maker of a microwave because no warning label prevented him from drying his cat in it. So while DropClock might cause more sales of iPhones, Apple does not want to risk the liability.

DropClock

The same seems to apply for a whole category of apps. Need I mention fart apps? Only difference, apps that might cause customers to physically damage their iPhones are highly unlikely to ever be permitted in the store. Apple’s feedback mentions “this type of application” So Apple’s summary judgement seems to apply to a great deal more than just my own app. Namely all apps that could damage an iPhone.

I probably won’t bother messing around with the app any more. PayPal me a Dollar to my wedding fund at oliver@drobnik.com and I’ll send you the source code. Let’s see if YOU are smart enough to not damange your precious device.

Do You Remember Apple's Future?

More than 20 years ago Apple made two concept videos that show how they where envisioning the future of computers at that time. Long before flat monitors came into the main stream they showed them off in these videos.

Gestures are replacing the mouse, your index finger doing the pointing. Effortless video conferencing and collaboration. A smart search assistant very much like the famous computer voice from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But most impressively of all I find the vision of having all parts of the computer built into the display. Remember, the first iMac was sold 10 years later.

Also Apple did not shy away from making a point that computers should also be usable by people with disabilities even 20 years ago. I have yet to see a concept video by Microsoft that would dare this.

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My App Rejected While Similar App Approved AND Featured

Several people contacted me today about this matter, for example Eknath:

Apple has been unjust to Oliver.

They just approved this app. “Sales Tracker” and not only did they approve it, they put it in featured apps. Very unfair.

I think we should make the noise in dev forums about his.

Eknath

While I had known about “Sales Tracker” since it made it into the store today we made the heart-wrenching discovery that this competiting app also was made a featured app. Being on the front page of the app store is in all likelyhood a very lucrative stroke of luck for it’s maker.

Of course I resubmitted MyAppSales right after Sales Tracker appeared on the store. Only to get rejected once again a week thereafter.

I called the US landline of Apple Developer Support to find out that I have two avenues of progressing. I could either write to the Review Team to aiming to get my own app passed, or I could write to the App Store Notices Team to get the other apps pulled. I chose the former, read my e-mail to learn why I think this is better.

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Petition for Official iTunes Sales Report Download API

Every developer with apps in the store has this problem: You have to download your daily reports within 7 days or you loose the information. Several methods have been developed to deal with this, some on individual computers (AppViz), some on web sites (appfigures.com) and some mobile (My App Sales). But all of those have the same problem: to get to the report data they have to scrape the iTunes Connect website.

A practise that Apple tolerates, but does not like. Where Apple has a say, they reject apps for the app store that do that, citing 3.3.7 of the SDK Agreement. And they add “There is no public API allowing information from iTunes Connect to be used in the manner demonstrated by your application.”

And that’s what this petition is for. I don’t want to establish a website for it just yet, but first I am trying to get people aware that we all should post a bug report at http://bugreport.apple.com/ and post your “vote” there by requesting “iTunes Sales Report Download API” from them. Apple collects these reports and when a certain number of people request the same functionality then Apple will be compelled to fulfill their user’s wish.

So the petition works liks this

  1. put in a bug report and suggest an official API
  2. comment on this thread
On the free market it is good to have developers compete who has the best report analysis software, but currently competition revolves around who has tricked Apple the best. By providing such an API, Apple would not only make developers really happy but create a basis of fair development of report analysis and charting tools on all possible platforms.

Apple Owes Me Millions, or Lucky Women on Top

When you are trying to be successful with something you think a lot. You are researching methods that worked for other people. You are pondering, designing, sweating. You are emulating what caused success in others. And it does not get you anywhere where you would already call yourself successful.

But then comes a long a new aquaintence, a little tool called AppRanking for FREE, that turns your world upside down and with this external help you suddenly realize that you are already many times more successful that you thought you are. You just looked in the wrong direction.

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Cracker Tracker and Apple Stalker

I would like to draw your attention to two ideas that might work if enough people organize and contribute. I know that your time is valuable and most of you won’t have extra time to spend helping with a “good iPhone cause”, but hear me out. If we organize, contribute automatically we can all benefit enormously.

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iPhone OS 3.0 for Developers

Today the typical dev-geek was glued in front of his web browser to get as much information as possible on the pending release of the next version of the operating system that powers all touch-enabled devices under the Apple brand. I stuck with the major two, Gizmodo and Engadget, especially because those two by now have mastered the art of interspersing illustrative photographs amongst concise journalistic commentary.

Apple claims that there are 1000 new API’s coming in 3.0 that they have been busily developing over the last year. An impressive number of news by any rate and it was put to the test by the scrutiny of many an iPhone user who threatens to leave the platform for Android because of the lack of cut&paste, stereo bluetooth, tethering, background processes and the like.

Most of those deficits will be remedied in OS 3.0, or so it seems. With an Apple twist. Background processes, no way. But amazing notification infrastructure, that is nicer to stand-by times anyway, yes. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Just watch and be amazed at the magic with the Apple.

As a developer I paid really close attention to what new features might work in my existing or future apps. The single most important thing I found was cut&paste. As simple as this might sound, even “standard”, as numerous are the uses I can imagine for it.

The guys on stage kept dealing out new APIs and features as if they where handing out candy.

  • Turn-based navigation will be possible … if the creator brings his own maps. Garmin, where are you?
  • “Stereo Bluetooth” aka. A2DP. Finally wireless music to my ears.
  • MMS, send voice memos, locations, vCards to other phones
  • “Spotlight” a seperate screen that searches everything on the device, even apps
  • Multiple Calendars with synching, especially noteworthy: CalDAV
  • Voice Memos, also with an external Microphone
  • Cut and Past, Shake to Undo. Copy full paragraphs e.g. from Safari
  • Push Notifications will finally enable a slew of multi-system IMs
  • Much improved Video Streaming capability with automatic best rate adaption

Lots of new APIs in OS 3.0

The bits that I thought most interesting to developers:

  • in-app e-mail support, maybe the end of the attachment shortcoming?
  • Shake API, no longer do I have to code this myself?
  • access to the users music library on the phone, probably also the voice memos
  • use the push notification API to invite other people to activites, e.g.games
  • USB/Bluetooth external-device API might allow for interesting add-on hardware possibilities
  • In-App Purchaes (iAP)! From within the app you can sell new game levels or other content
  • Access to the Proximity Sensor
  • Battery information API – maybe apps can now be smarter about how much CPU and energy they use
  • In-Game Voice – wow, about an online-multiplayer LuckyWheel that lets people talk to each other?
  • And many minor tweaks to existing classes UIAlertView, UITableView, table cells, etc.

Still there were so many more buzzwords that did not get treated with an explanation. Or do you know that those are?

  • Core Data – a new API for handling data? A nicer way to interact with Sqlite?
  • Localized Collation – Digital Alphabet Soup?
  • GPS Lingo – are they going to put even cooler GPS buzzwords into the SDK?

"We'll be back soon" says Apple while the update the developer site.

It still remains to be seen behind all these cool announcements how much liberty and creativity Apple will actually permit it’s developers to have. All these new features are really quite overwhelming for us small-time developers and it remains to be seen who of us can embrace them quickly.

Did anybody get to 1000 counting new announcements? I did not, but I am still excited.

It was also announced today that there would be a BETA available for paying developers. So far I cannot report anything about that because we are greeted with the usual “We’ll be back soon” because most likely the developer site is totally overrun by people hungry for more info.

In summary I am glad that Apple today showed that they are taking the touch platform seriously and they are willing to put in extra work to catch up to other platforms that boast many features where the iPhone fell behind. I feel reassured that I can relax and stick to developing for the iPhone because with all those shortcomings finally getting remedied the market of my potential customers will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.