Monday, November 18, 2019

Vaping Apps Removed From App Store

Joe Rossignol:

Apple is removing all vaping-related apps from the App Store today, according to Axios, shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,172 lung injury cases linked to e-cigarette or vape products.


Apple had already took a step in this direction in June, when it updated its App Store Review Guidelines to indicate that apps encouraging consumption of vape products are not permitted on the App Store.


The benefits and the health risks of e-cigarettes are uncertain. There is tentative evidence they may help people quit smoking, although they have not been proven to be more effective than smoking cessation medicine. There is concern with the possibility that non-smokers and children may start nicotine use with e-cigarettes at a rate higher than anticipated than if they were never created.

John Gruber:

The stuff about selling cartridges, and sharing news — it’s fine for that stuff to be out of the App Store because you can get it on the web. But Bluetooth stuff where apps were used as the interface for controlling hardware — web apps can’t do that (nor should they be able to). There is no alternative to a native app, and native apps are only available on the App Store. This would be an easy call to make (and would have been made from the get-go by Apple) if vaping were illegal. But it’s not illegal.

Update (2019-11-26): Steve Troughton-Smith:

There are all kinds of modern hardware ecosystems that literally do nothing if not paired with a smartphone app, like some scooter brands. Apple does not get to unilaterally make calls like this, and I hope they get crucified in upcoming antitrust cases

The Macalope:

It’s worth pointing out that the canisters that did contain cyanide were counterfeit. The Macalope just checked his local liquor store and we haven’t banned alcohol sales because prison wine blinded some people. He also checked the App Store and we haven’t banned mixology apps, either. But one of the apps Apple banned actually checked canisters to see if they were counterfeit.

Ben Thompson:

Those apps — and by extension, device functionality — are no longer available to iPhone users— you can’t get this level of functionality in a browser — not because regulators ruled them illegal, or because Congress passed a law, but because a group of technology executives said so. And, what they said held sway because the App Store is integrated with the iPhone: Apple has a monopoly on what apps can or cannot be installed.

John Gruber:

As it stands today, tobacco and marijuana are OK in the App Store if you smoke them but banned if you vape them. That distinction seems impossible to defend, other than by noting that vaping is a hot topic in the news, and cigarettes and weed baroning are not.


Update (2020-10-20): Journal of the American Heart Association:

During peer review, the reviewers identified the important question of whether the myocardial infarctions occurred before or after the respondents initiated e‐cigarette use, and requested that the authors use additional data in the PATH codebook (age of first MI and age of first e‐cigarettes use) to address this concern. While the authors did provide some additional analysis, the reviewers and editors did not confirm that the authors had both understood and complied with the request prior to acceptance of the article for publication.

Post publication, the editors requested Dr. Bhatta et al conduct the analysis based on when specific respondents started using e‐cigarettes, which required ongoing access to the restricted use dataset from the PATH Wave 1 survey. The authors agreed to comply with the editors’ request. The deadline set by the editors for completion of the revised analysis was not met because the authors are currently unable to access the PATH database. Given these issues, the editors are concerned that the study conclusion is unreliable.

The editors hereby retract the article from publication in Journal of the American Heart Association.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Gosh, here I go defending Apple. Banning vape apps is fine by me. Can someone explain to me why my vape kit need an app? This is kind of bizarre stuff for me to even fathom.

As always, the problem is not Apple's app store rules but the fact the app store is (essentially) the only way to load apps on iOS. Give people sideloading and Apple can have their Disneyesque app world and other people can get real work done by bypassing it. Or even have stupid apps for their stupid addictions.

Yep, I think Apple made the right call here. It's insane that there is yet another host of corporations whose sole goal is to addict kids to substances that will eventually seriously harm their health, or kill them.

And yes, the problem here isn't that Apple is preventing these apps from being sold, but that preventing anything from being sold is pretty much preventing that thing from existing at all.

Sören Nils Kuklau

Can someone explain to me why my vape kit need an app?

For the same reason medical devices increasingly do.

A smartphone, it turns out, is an excellent companion device to monitor and control them: you always have it with you, the screen is big enough to put some charts and other info up, and it’s also convenient to toggle settings that way.

(Privacy concerns and all notwithstanding. The app shouldn’t connect to the Internet, and should communicate only via Bluetooth.)

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