Monday, November 12, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Removes RescueTime From the App Store

Mark Wolgemuth:

We have submitted a feature-reduced app for approval while we communicate with Apple about why we were singled out for rejection while other similar apps have been allowed to continue (or have been re-admitted after seemingly identical rejections.)

[…]

Critically, using the persistent location API also allows us to use an acknowledged acceptable way to capture when our users have active screen time. This, of course, in a get-things-done digital wellness tool is absolutely critical information as well. It is why we use this method rather than the significant location change methods.

We do not understand or agree that this is “misusing” the method. While we believe a mature device use API would be far preferable, this solution seems to be blessed by Apple in some cases already, because location matters AND screen time matters, they said it themselves.

Location definitely seems like something you’d want to include when tracking your time, and it sounds like you can opt out, so this rejection doesn’t make much sense to me.

4 Comments

The problem isn’t using the location API to associate location with screen time. The problem is they’re somehow abusing the location API to infer when the user is using the device, which is pretty clearly not what that API is for.

Sören Nils Kuklau

>Critically, using the persistent location API also allows us to use an acknowledged acceptable way to capture when our users have active screen time. [..] We do not understand or agree that this is “misusing” the method.

They… they don't understand that using a location API to figure out whether a user is active isn't quite the intended use of a location API?

Apple could still improve a lot on communication (which is just sad, ten years in), but this claim seems disingenuous on RescueTime's part.

I'm one of the developers behind the RescueTime app. I think the key thing being missed by the two comments above is that

1.) We know this is not the intended use of the API, but it is the only way possible and we do believe that showing users how long they spend on their device at a certain location is a benefit to users.

2.) There are other [very popular apps which have been featured by Apple] that implement device time tracking in the exact same way that we are doing. Most of those apps were removed, like we were, the difference is that some of them were allowed back on the App Store with no changes.

We knew it was a long-shot that they would approve our method of mobile time tracking, but as others this method we thought they might approve. What we didn't expect was for the rules to be inconsistently enforced.

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