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.
I propose to establish an online database and service that tracks all cracking activity for participating applications. There would be an open and free API where developers could upload all info they have about devices, IP addresses, location etc. of people who are running cracked apps.
This would allow to create history trees of which apps where first cracked on which devices (uniquely identified). This information could then be used to either properly analyze motivations of crackers or to establish who the few people/groups are who entertain this sport.
Together thousands of developers could piece together a detective’s puzzle as to the motivation, location or maybe even identity of those few individuals who cause the legitimate dev’s much headache.
There are a couple of – mostly commercial – usage tracking services out there who collect use information “anonymously” (but still identified by UUID) but these probably won’t share their data for free. What I propose is a grassroots movevent where even the smallest developer could automatically contribute crack reports to make this service.
Participating in the service would also provide community developed an thus effortless copy protection. I imagine you would only copy a few lines of code (that frequently changes as to prevent cracking of the anti-cracking) into any new app and would immediately get usage information for free plus the benefit of knowing when any iteration of the anti-cracking measures are compromised because the database would know when measure X had been circumvented in another person’s app.
The second proposal for community review/discussion is:
Apple tries to tighten the control even more while at the same time not improving communication with single developers. Often you submit a very simple app which is “under review” for months without any response. I propose a free web site/service where you can help yourself and all other developers at the same time.
By using all those snippets of information that each of us gleans you can piece together uptodate statistics about what reactions Apple had to what input and this would help us to shine light into the Apple black box that is the “review process”.
The community would get a fully featured database of applications, see when they where submitted, how long it took to be approved, what responses Apple sent to which developer.
Apps that cannot be “repaired” so that they pass would serve of examples of Apple judgements. The source code for these apps could be on sale for 5-10$ (paypal) in a big store of “Original Apple-Rejected Code”. This is an easy way to circumvent the new SDK restriction of not being able to distribute APPS any other way than App Store. You would not be distributing apps, but you would sell text files that interested devs could purchase to learn something from. The original author would still receive at least some money for his invention. A good name might be “The DARK CODE Store”.
Also the site would track the times when each kind of report becomes available for which region, both for financial as well as daily reports. You could then subscribe to a notification and be informed when it makes sense for you to go and download your report. There again would be an open API where users can flag availability of a given report and the database will keep track of the first such flag. A statistic would be made to see what the usual delays of reporting are. Maybe there are periods when those delays are longer, like towards the end of the month? In general this would give devs more piece of mind because they could refer to the site to see that nobody had yet received his report.
The service could go as far as also automatically parsing Apple review e-mails that participating users would auto-forward to the site. This would allow for a database of rejection reasons and would save developers much grief because they would have plain-english analysis and guidelines as to which projects or features they can risk investing time and money in.
Lastly, every once in a while a member of the review team at apple exposes himself. For example I recently learned the name of one reviewer. By putting all those puzzle pieces together we could maybe not only create a map of how the review process really works, but also find out the size of the review team and how much work they really do.
The general idea is to create visibility where Apple leaves us in the dark. We would use all legal methods available to basically form sort of a union of like-minded developers. Apple is known to respond to large corporations differently than they respond to single devs. This form of union could approach Apple and communicate developers needs more clearly so that the playing field becomes fair again.
So, what do you think?