Sunday, January 27, 2013

App Reviews Are Unpredictable

Alexander Clauss (via Cédric Luthi):

Apple rejected the update. The reason was not the bugfix, they rejected the App because of a feature that was available for years in iCab Mobile and which is also available in hundreds of other Apps in the AppStore. They rejected the App because it is able to download videos from YouTube so you can watch the videos offline.

[…]

This time Apple did not complain about the features of the App, they rejected the App because I mentioned in the AppStore description that I had to block downloads from YouTube… And as the reason for this, they cited item 3.3 from the AppStore guidelines: “Apps with descriptions not relevant to the application content and functionality will be rejected”.

[…]

Besides, there are millions of videos on Youtube which are under the creative commons license CC-By which explicitly allows to share, mix, redistribute, there are also laws like “fair use” (US) and “private use” (Germany) and similar laws in other countries, which do allow users to use even copyright-protected material under certain conditions (like for educational purposes, for your own private usage). So there’s nothing illegal in downloading content per se, at least if the content itself is provided legally on the web site.

[…]

There are Apps released to the AppStore even after Apple has rejected my App, which not only have the same feature (Downloading youtube videos for offline viewing), but which also explicitly advertise this feature in the description and in the screenshots for the AppStore. Apple allows these Apps to do something which my App is not allowed to do anymore.

10 Comments

That story is kind of appalling, for all kinds of reasons.

I wonder if it's just Google-hate? Or is it more generic 3rd party browser-hate? Seems more likely that one of those two is the reason instead of just malicious caprice...

(btw, your RSS comment feed seems to have been broken for a few days. thought you should know.)

@Chucky The RSS comment feed seems fine to me.

"The RSS comment feed seems fine to me."

Huh. Just to be clear, I'm talking about the blog-wide comments feed, not the individual post comments feed - aka the "http://mjtsai.com/blog/comments/feed/" address. Been broken on my end for about a week, while all my other feeds continue to work. If it really seems fine on your end, that's odd.

I'm using a pretty old RSS reader, but that's the only feed I'm having any issues with. (Your 'posts' feed and 'individual post comments'' feed both still work fine for me, for two example out of many.)

@Chuckey I ran it through Feed Validator, which found an invalid character in one of the comments. Now that I’ve fixed that, does it work for you?

"Now that I’ve fixed that, does it work for you?"

Yup. Fixed, indeed. Your blog provides excellent customer service. I shall rate it on par with Amazon.

" I ran it through Feed Validator, which found an invalid character in one of the comments."

The 26th comment prior to this one, if I'm debugging correctly.

But here's what I don't get:

So, stipulating that I'm the only one to get the problem, it makes sense as I am running an antique RSS client. (NewsFire v1.6 from 2009. Last verison before it went MAS-only. The highly minimal, open-in-browser workflow fits my use-case scenario amazingly well, and it's nicely written software.)

Continuing the stipulation, my RSS client chokes on invalid characters that more modern RSS clients can handle gracefully. Fine. But what I don't get is that out of hundreds of RSS feeds I've subscribed to for years, the issue shows up on your blog either for the first time of many, or in an isolated instance.

What makes your blog so special?

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Condolences on Rajon.

@Chucky I have some commenters like nriley that know how to use non-ASCII characters. I’m not sure why WordPress didn’t like his em-dash, though. I’ve disabled WordPress’s wptexturize filter and some others that mess up the HTML, but I don’t think I made any changes that should have caused this problem.

It’s a shame about Rondo, and my friend just tore her ACL for the fourth time. Tough sport on the knees.

I think apps aren't allowed to store Google videos for offline viewing because it's against Google's TOS (though I don't think Apple should be enforcing Google's TOS).

(Ah, Alexander actually points this out in his article. It's kind of weird for YouTube to do this; if they didn't, you could build a YouTube-based music player that would effectively be a free version of Spotify, seeing how YouTube has pretty much all the world's music on its servers.)

"I have some commenters like nriley that know how to use non-ASCII characters. I’m not sure why WordPress didn’t like his em-dash, though. I’ve disabled WordPress’s wptexturize filter and some others that mess up the HTML, but I don’t think I made any changes that should have caused this problem."

So, the illustrious author of Pester tosses out a perfectly acceptable typographic character, and suddenly, something evil is tossed out into the wild that causes RSS readers to experience buffer overflows leading to privilege escalation and execution of malicious code ;)

I've solved the learning curve issue of WordPress by not having a blog, but you'd think they'd have a standard feature / plug-in to spit out valid RSS feeds. I mean, didn't Unicode solve this all a decade ago? But, from a distance, WordPress seems a bit like an unruly lawn to keep tame...

@Chucky WordPress does have a standard filter to do that. I’m not sure why it didn’t work in this case.

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