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Apple Reforms App Approval as Facebook Developer Vows "Never Again"

Just a day after being publicly excoriated by an influential developer, Apple has introduced new tweaks to its App Store approval process to make it more friendly to submissions.


Joe Hewitt, developer of Facebook for iPhone and an in-house Facebook employee, has vowed never to develop for iPhone again. Widely considered the most popular app in the iTunes Store, Facebook for iPhone set benchmarks for UI and interaction design on the phone.

"My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple's policies," he told TechCrunch. "I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer."

Hewitt, who has a background in Web development and also worked on the Netscape and Mozilla Firefox projects, is a strong advocate for open source software. Much of his backend work for the Facebook app he made available publicly under the open source title of Three20.

Meanwhile, Apple was busy rolling out notifications for developers that will tell them how far along in the review process their apps have gotten. Apple's often-draconian reviews have been characterized by long wait times, indiscriminate rejections, major slip-ups and the occasional baby-shaker scandal.

Microsoft also rolled out its own app store this week as a part of its Windows Marketplace site.

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  • Aaron Hayes

    It is fascinating to me that so many people have difficulty differentiating from a decent end user platform and underhanded marketing strategies. Apple produces a decent product, and as such they currently have a decent public perception. This will change if they continue with their current strategies. The reality is that apple does not have a superior platform. Just a more widely known and better marketed platform. A cleanly produced Unix like platform is much easier and more reliable to use than Windows and Apple had benefited from this. Marketing folks and money motivated people love the proprietary nature of Apple and its almost cultic consumer minded end user base. But technically, it is in no way superior. If that were the case it would be much more widely used in situations other than music, graphics editing and autotune apps. The simple truth is, Apple is good at manipulating public perception, and producing clean simple use apps.
    Apples motivation for being so difficult to work with is not to provide a fabulous end user experience. Their continuous pattern of shady anti-trust-like behavior, attempts to sabotage global standards for the sake of control, and DRM propagation, makes microsoft look like choir boys. Of course if they produce cute hardware, they will continue to have no shortage of people who will readily defend the removal of their personal freedoms - with a little help from marketing types that smell money to be made. A basic truth that is proven over and over again is- whatever the developers like to use will eventually become the most feature filled platform. Android anyone?

  • Mark Cameron

    this is why you simply focus on web application development. I build an app and post it to Traffic seems decent and there's not a ton of ads in the way. I only wish i was allowed to add my own descriptions. I like it a bit better than the others though. I don't really need Apple to allow me to build apps.

  • Mark Cameron

    this is why you simply focus on web application development. I build an app and post it to Traffic seems decent and there's not a ton of ads in the way. I only wish i was allowed to add my own descriptions. I like it a bit better than the others though. I don't really need Apple to allow me to build apps.

  • Steve Elliott

    I got drawn in wiht the masses and never used Apple products until recently, with the launch of the iPhone. All I can say is that they do things the right way - some may find that limiting but I would prefer to have fewer things that work as they should than a mass of errors.

    -- - The name says it all!

  • Charles Erdman

    I agree with Tim's opinion on this matter.
    I have used Apple products since '82. I assess the effectiveness of their hardware and software solutions based on just that- their effectiveness in allowing me to complete my work. To do so, they must place a premium on the total user experience: physical, visual and screen-based interactions. The fact that the App Store has reached over two billion downloads AND been restrictive in its submission process testifies to the fact that it isn't affecting their business. They are helping deliver quality products. People want what they offer. Remember, this is a marketplace that they created. Anyone can benefit from that environment as long as your product doesn't cannibalize Apple's own product line-up. This is business, not an open source community that develops for the benefit of the community and individual self-expression. Marketplaces come with rules, no matter how ponderous or draconian.

    Charles Erdman, UX strategist and architect
    Learn more at:

  • Michael Murphy

    It would be interesting to hear Mr. Hewitt's assessment of the "tweaks" to the app store approval process. Not being a developer but rather a consumer of apps, I am concerned about the Draconian reputation Apple is attracting. I am becoming a big time Apple fan owning and using both a MacBook and iPhone. The integration is awesome. I hope Apple doesn't blow it!

  • Tim Johnson

    The reason Apple has a better platform, a better suite of products, a better brand - is that they do exercise control over how its used by others. If they didn't exercise the level of control, their quality would begin to crumble. People would begin to feel betrayed as the occurrence of bad apps, crappy content and security problems started increasing (case in point, the Baby Shaker debacle did not result from TOO MUCH control, but from a bad app getting through the vetting process. Less vetting would mean MORE such problems, not fewer). I certainly am an advocate of open source programs and appreciate their role in bringing more cool stuff to more people, but there is an inherent dynamic tension between the desires of content creators and those whose business is delivering content. It's no different from Sony, for example, vetting musical talent to avoid publishing garbage. I think Hewitt should reconsider his position.

    Tim Johnson, President
    Coactive Brand Lab
    Brand Designer, Marketing and Communications Expert

  • Greg Steggerda

    Not a big Apple fan, but hey, if you want to play, you have to pay. Everyone who wants an app in their store goes through the same pain, presumably with sufficient benefit to make it worthwhile. Apple has every right to take whatever steps they think are warranted to ensure the best experience for their users, and developers have every right to decide they don't want to take part. And any Apple competitor has a right to try to do it better. Like I said, not an Apple fan, but in this case I applaud their faithfulness to their vision of who they are and their reluctance to move from core competencies just to chase every fleeting opportunity.