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Comment Yup (Score 1) 176

This just reinforces what I said the other day about Apple's App Store approval process really making a difference to the quality of the applications available for iOS.

Apple have a rule in their guidelines:

2.20 Developers "spamming" the App Store with many versions of similar Apps will be removed from the iOS Developer Program

Comment Re:That didn't work in an app (Score 1) 206

Then why not allow outside markets and advertise theirs as the premium one?

I'm responding to what you said here:

Either way security problems will exist and pretending that their app auditing is anything more than a justification for a walled garden is simply burying your head in the sand.

You were arguing that the promotion of a walled garden was the sole purpose for the approval process for the App Store. That's a silly thing to say, and I explained why. You've now changed your argument to something else - that Apple are enforcing the App Store as the sole source of applications to build a walled garden. That's a different argument entirely, and doesn't make what you said earlier any less silly.

Comment Re:That didn't work in an app (Score 1) 206

Either way security problems will exist and pretending that their app auditing is anything more than a justification for a walled garden is simply burying your head in the sand.

The walled garden is probably one reason for the approval process, but it's certainly not the only one. Apple seem genuinely motivated to use it to raise the quality of the end-user experience.

Here's one example: a few years ago, developers were complaining that Apple was rejecting their apps for having an icon of a phone in their app. It didn't make sense - why would Apple object to that? It wasn't an icon depicting a competing phone. It wasn't infringing on their trademarks or copyrights. People couldn't figure it out.

Then, a short while after, the iPad was released, which could run iPhone apps too. Suddenly, that restriction made sense. Apple wanted the designs to make sense for people using iPads as well. Is it a bit of a control-freak thing to do? Sure. But there's no reason to do stuff like that unless it's to improve the end-user experience.

Here's another example: Using undocumented APIs. A lot of people point to this as evidence that Apple are hobbling apps, artificially limiting their functionality. But any developer will tell you that people using non-public APIs is a nightmare for forwards compatibility. As soon as there's applications in the wild using an API, you'll have to make the choice between supporting it, unchanged, for eternity, or breaking things for users. Ask Microsoft- they've still got a tonne of backwards compatibility code in Windows because sometime in the early 90s, applications rooted out private APIs and depended on them to function.

How about another example: I've had an application rejected for giving a misleading error message. If somebody was trying to log in and their Internet connection wasn't up, it told them their username and password was wrong instead of telling them to check their connection. A dumb bug, but one that could confuse end users.

It doesn't really make sense for Apple to invest in this approval process, and piss off developers, and slow the whole thing down to a crawl if this is just a pretext for having a walled garden. Apple aren't shy about being control freaks. If it was just about being a walled garden, they'd say so, they are shameless about it.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one - Apple have an approval process that rejects applications on quality and UX grounds because they want to ensure the quality of applications on the App Store. They might also have other motivations as well, but there's no reason to believe that that one is anything other than genuine.

Comment Re:I call bullshit on "unaware" claims (Score 4, Informative) 206

Every single one of those, requires permission from the user to do - posting tweets an app cannot do directly, it brings up a sheet.

Read the paper - they watched the interaction in a debugger to find the right messages to send to the right private classes in order to bypass this.

This only worked with iOS 5 - last year Apple moved sheets like these into external processes and used a proxy view controller to show them in applications instead of embedding the functionality directly, so attacks like this aren't possible any more where this technique has been used.

I agree that this is somewhat sensationalised, but they were able to do this without the normal user approval in the 4% or so of people still running a two year old version of iOS.

Comment Re:Q&A (Score 5, Insightful) 206

I'm an iOS developer, and the approval process can be a real problem for me sometimes, but I still think the App Store is far better with it than without it.

I've seen a lot of clients ask for dumb stuff. Using UI elements in confusing ways. Doing user-abusive stuff. Being generally annoying and self-serving rather than being designed with the user's best interests as a goal.

The great thing about the approval process is that I can tell those clients "Apple won't allow it" and it instantly shuts them up. The alternative would be hours of trying to convince them not to do something horrible, which leaves everybody unhappy no matter what decision is made. And this is the best case scenario, when you've got a developer willing to go to bat for the users. There's plenty of developers out there who will blindly do whatever the client asks, no matter how shitty it makes the UX.

It's not just bad decisions. It's QA as well. Do you have any idea how keen people are to just push stuff live and then fix it after? I don't know about you, but I don't want a dozen updates every morning as developers meddle with their apps trying to get things right. The approval process gives developers the stick necessary to perform proper QA. We don't dare push anything live if there's the possibility of a crasher, because Apple will reject it and we have to wait another week to get reviewed again.

If the approval process wasn't there, then the quality of the apps on the App Store would plummet. You think it's bad with Android, but Android doesn't attract the worst kinds of ambulance chasers. The App Store would be 75% Geocities level quality in no time at all.

What I do disagree with is making the App Store the only way to get applications onto the device. There's really no legitimate reason for not allowing side-loading for people willing to go into settings and agree to a disclaimer.

Comment Re:iOS apps -- can they self-modify? (Score 1) 206

For the most part, yes, but not in the way you think. Objective-C is a very dynamic language. It's not really about sandboxing - apps can't modify their own code. What they can do is include components that do fairly generic, innocuous things, then take external input and construct messages to those existing components on the fly based on that input.

Comment Re:Douglas Engelbart (Score 1) 86

the brief window when I could have got a beta dev version

I'm a developer who signed up in that window to get a beta dev version, and they've failed to do that even. They've sent me some generic marketing emails, but nothing that would help me actually get my hands on a device. Totally lost interest now. If they can't even figure out how to deliver the goods, chances are it's not going to be a great product.

Comment Re:Apple didn't pretend iOS was OSX (Score 1) 246

Actually, when Jobs announced the iPhone for the first time, in the keynote he made a point of telling everybody that it ran OS X and had desktop-class applications.

In context of the mobile operating systems and mobile apps that came before the iPhone, it's easy to see why he'd say that, but it wasn't quite true. The difference between what they did and what Microsoft did is that they recognised iPhoneOS and OS X had different, mutually exclusive design goals, and acted on that understanding, whereas Ballmer demanded "no compromises" for the mobile version of Windows.

Comment Re:Err - what? (Score 1) 228

If the vendor picked the option of giving you the source code along with the binaries they can be argued to both be part of one piece of software.

No, that's not the case, and the GPL isn't written that way. The source and binary forms are treated individually and where distribution together is mentioned, the GPL describes the source form as accompanying the binary form, not being a part of it. If one thing accompanies another, they are by definition distinct from one another.

They can't. The organisation I bought the machine from is only compelled by the GPL to provide source code to the person they distributed the binaries to, i.e. me.

This is not true. The GPL requires that the offer is made to "any third party".

Not really. You are quoting "any third party", so I assume you are talking about GPLv2. Here's the relevant section from that license:

You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:


b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

When the vendor distributes the machine to me, they are compelled to provide the written offer to me. I am not compelled to give this written offer to anybody I might sell the machine to.

I think you might have misread my comment. Why are you talking about redownloading the software to put it on a new machine? I am buying the machine with the software preinstalled. I'm not downloading or installing anything.

Because you can get around the GPL once that way. It is not really a hole worth being concerned about.

Once? People can buy machines in bulk. Are you missing the relevance to the story here? Consider what happens if a company like Fantec contract an external organisation to install GPLed software on their components before reselling them.

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