No, the App Store is not like Disney

Daring Fireball yesterday commenting on Papers, Please:

So here’s an App Store rejection that many disagree with, but which is easy to understand from Apple’s perspective. Apple tends to err on the side of running the App Store with Disney-esque family values. The company places inordinate value in its family-friendly reputation.

Maybe it’s an American thing to believe this. John Gruber, who writes Daring Fireball, is American, and so is Apple. But from the outside, I don’t see ‘Disney-esque family values’ about the way Apple treats App Store submissions. Either what Apple is actually stating in its rules is a puritanical and largely anti-nutidy/sex stance, or I’ve missed a huge number of apparently family-friendly Disney movies that, for example, feature car-jacking and drugs, running around killing people, and blood-stained horror.

December 13, 2014. Read more in: Apple, Gaming, Opinions

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Apple says: Papers, Please—but no nudity

Update: The developer reports that the rejection was a “misunderstanding”. He will now resubmit, and expects the app to be approved. I’m increasingly sceptical about this kind of error. Either it’s true, in which case the app review team needs more time per app and/or better guidance; or it’s false, and devs now essentially need to kick up an online shitstorm to get Apple to see sense. Neither of these things strikes me as especially good.

As reported by Eurogamer and elsewhere, Apple’s okayed Papers, Please for App Store release (on iPad) but demanded it be fixed to a ‘no nudity’ version included (but not required) in the original PC version. Half the internet has now apparently lost its shit, branding Apple fascists, and suggesting developers are now all going to flock to Android.

The decision Apple made is not remotely a surprise. It has consistently from the dawn of the App Store argued that if you want to describe or display things of a sexual nature, you should write a song or book. Such media may be branded ‘explicit’ in the store, but won’t be stopped from sale. However, games are different, suffering from a rigid and puritanical stance, and the question is why this is the case.

My guess—and I don’t really have anything other than a gut feeling to back this up—is this rule comes directly from Steve Jobs and possibly other senior execs with children, and also from the lack of a VP leading games at Apple. I suspect the people making the big decisions at Apple understand the cultural significance of music, movies and books, but remain largely ignorant of and clueless about games. Maybe they just don’t get them—at all. This would also explain wider fumbles with games (notably the initially botched and still sub-optimal iOS games controllers), despite games being one of the main sources of App Store income.

I’m not sure what the solution is—a VP for games seems unlikely to happen any time soon; still, it might be something Apple should consider rather than digging deeper into a hole of its own making, mired in accusations of being a company full of censor-happy philistines.

December 12, 2014. Read more in: Apple, Gaming, Opinions

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Transmit for iOS gets its iCloud Drive back

What’s new in Transmit for iOS 1.1.2:

Added back, at Apple’s request, the ability to “Send” files to other destinations including “iCloud Drive”

Credit to Apple for getting this one sorted quickly, and dealing with one of the most stupid App Store decisions in recent memory. However, Apple really needs to rapidly nail down what is and isn’t allowed on iOS 8, get the information out there in a transparent manner (“We’ll know it when we see it” is not good enough when a dev’s livelihood is at stake), communicate effectively, and apply any rules consistently.

December 11, 2014. Read more in: Apple

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More stupid Apple bullshit regarding iOS extensions

Here we go again. Now Panic has got hit by Apple’s random hammer of doom, being forced to remove an ‘upload document to iCloud’ feature from Transmit iOS, because, and I quote:

we cannot upload content to iCloud Drive unless the content was created in the app itself

Just to be clear, Apple’s made the decision—undocumented, naturally, according to Panic—that uploading to iCloud Drive is perfectly fine, but only if your app makes the document that it’s uploading, which presumably takes into account the most minor of edits/updates as well. What’s out, however, is a company (once admired so much by Steve Jobs he wanted it to make iTunes) creating a pro-oriented app for pro-oriented people that would enable them to manage files, for example sending Mac documents to Dropbox, or Dropbox content to iCloud Drive. That kind of thing is totally not wanted on iOS, for reasons.

This decision strikes me as so absurdly stupid, it’s hard to know where to begin. iPad sales are reportedly in the toilet, and yet here again we see Apple freaking out about the extensibility afforded to iOS devs in iOS 8 and banning things it’s now decided aren’t allowed, even though nothing’s actually written down, and even though such things are helpful to the kind of professional users who shout loud and also showcase how iOS potentially isn’t just for faffing about with semi-automated creation tools and playing games—it’s possible to use for actual work. *deep breath*

Perhaps this will all settle down soon. Maybe Apple will perform a quick U-turn like it did when PCalc was judged to have broken App Store rules with its Notification Center widget. But given recent events elsewhere, I’m not optimistic. Apple needs to sort its shit out with these new capabilities, before the developers that try to do something new and useful bugger off elsewhere, before those devs who consider innovating think better of it, in case of subsequent random and abrupt app rejection, and before iOS itself gains a reputation for being a hamstrung and hugely limited platform, primarily because of Apple hamstringing and limiting it.

December 8, 2014. Read more in: Apple, Technology

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If you make it more affordable

Wired covers Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s interview with Henry Blodget. On covering a spat with publisher Hachette (now finally resolved) over pricing, Bezos still maintains books are overpriced:

If we want a healthy culture of reading book-length things, we’ve got to make books more accessible and part of that is making them less expensive. If you make it more affordable, it’s not going to make authors less money. It’s going to make authors more money.

The fallacy here is that an author will magically sell enough extra copies of a title at a lower rate to make up for dropping the price, because way more people prefer to pay less for whatever they buy. In reality, though, we’ve now seen a race to the bottom in apps, games and books, and although there are naturally a few winners (as ever), it’s hard to see a climate where the bulk of creative people are better off because of prices continuing to tumble. If anything, we’re furthering the decline of value in media—it’s becoming entirely throwaway, and people are trained to expect low prices (and, increasingly, no prices).

Really, Bezos should have just been more honest and said:

If we want a healthy culture of Amazon making more money, we’ve got to make everything more accessible and part of that is making everything less expensive. If you make everything more affordable, it’s not going to make Amazon less money. It’s going to make Amazon more money.

December 4, 2014. Read more in: Opinions, Technology

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