Thursday, August 8, 2019

Windmill for iPhone Rejected From the App Store

Markos Charatzas:

For the past few months, I have been working on Windmill 3.0 which enables Windmill on the Mac to publish your iOS app.

Effectively, every time you make a code change, Windmill will also publish your app so that you can install it on your iPhone.

Markos Charatzas:

Unfortunately, Apple has firmly rejected Windmill on the iPhone. Windmill on the Mac does not seem to have Apple’s blessing either.


I was reminded of one very specific reason that I was given too.

Guideline 5.2.5 - Legal - Intellectual Property



More importantly. Apple took the stance that the Command Line Tools Package is only meant to be used by developers in-house and not by 3rd parties to provide support for continuous integration systems - continuous delivery in the case of Windmill.

Via Brent Simmons:

I don’t understand all the issues here, I admit, but I start by thinking that useful developer tools should be allowed on the App Store.

Update (2019-09-06): Markos Charatzas (Hacker News):

I don’t feel motivated knowing what is possible will be subpar, constrained, unwelcome, unappreciated and on the bad side of Apple. I feel crippled as an Apple Developer to make the best of all available platforms and technologies.


For Apple, this was just an app that was submitted, went through due process and was rejected. For me, this is a moment in time that will define what turn my life takes next.

Update (2019-09-09): gitpusher:

Former Apple + TestFlight employee here (3 years at TF + 2 at App Store post-acquisition) Apple is very territorial about developer tools. They do allow certain businesses (like Fastlane) to operate in this space (a tacit acknowledgement that those tools provide value) yet they deny others (like Windmill) the right to operate.

This follows the typical Apple ethos of “we can do it better because we’re vertically-integrated”. However this only works if your product is damn-near perfect. And Apple is infamously imperfect when it comes to software/services.

On top of the competence issue, they also have no real motivation to improve tooling. They know that developers will build stuff no matter how onerous the terms, and no matter how nitpicky is their approval process.

If they re-framed their perspective, and began considering devs as “users” in their own right, then perhaps they, too, would experience the tender love + attention that Apple lavishes on its end users. But this is simply not how they view it, and there is little political will inside Eddy’s org to accomplish such a shift.

Update (2020-01-06): Markos Charatzas:

The last version of Windmill on the Mac is 3.1.2. There are no plans to support Xcode 11 or any future versions of Xcode. Windmill on the iPhone never made it to the App Store.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Even a brief scan of the Windmill site says that the functionality is nothing like TestFlight. But I learned that devs are as “easily confused” as endusers, as least in Apple’s view.

Windmill really sounds like a great tool that would simplify development, I wonder why Apple would ban it? /sarc


Even if Windmill was similar to Testflight, how does that create any kind of association with Apple products, let alone a misleading one? That's a bit like preventing Microsoft from publishing Word on iOS since people will confuse it with Pages. Is Microsoft creating a misleading association with Apple products by publishing Word on the App Store?

This is clearly not the actual reason for the rejection.

Sigh…I am sure without publicizing the problem, Apple would eventually fix it. Wait, no, only by publicizing the problem will Apple even bother to consider fixing it. Good on the Windmill developer for being public about yet another ridiculous App Store rejection (YARASR is catchy, I'm trademarking it!)

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