Monday, September 7, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Japanese Game Developers Complain About App Store

Tim Hardwick:

Bloomberg reports that some developers in the Japanese gaming market have been emboldened by the dispute and are becoming more vocal about their own concerns, which including Apple’s 30% commission rate and inconsistent enforcement of App Store policies.

[…]

According to game developers in Japan, Google’s Play Store offers a smoother approval process and better communication than the App Store. Some developers even rely on a third-party service called iOS Reject Rescue, which helps them navigate through Apple’s approval process if their app is rejected.

“Apple’s app review is often ambiguous, subjective and irrational,” said Makoto Shoji, founder of PrimeTheory, which provides the rejection service. “While Apple will never admit it, I think there are times when they simply forget an item’s in the review queue or they intentionally keep it untouched as a sanction to a developer giving them the wrong attitude,” Shoji told Bloomberg.

John Gruber:

For a 30 percent cut of all revenue passing through the App Store, and mandatory use of Apple’s payment processing, none of these complaints should exist. It’s perfectly reasonable to demand better service from a platform that charges high fees.

What I read here is that these Japanese developers expect to feel respected by Apple, and they don’t.

Relations between Apple and developers may be at an all-time low. Developers don’t feel respected by Apple at the moment, which has threatened them and minimized their contributions. And the loss of respect has been mutual, after the recent incompetence, lies to Congress, and misrepresentations to the press.

Previously:

Update (2020-09-08): Kaushik Gopal:

After dabbling with some iOS development, I can confidently say Android Studio is much better than Xcode. I also think Google as a company listens more closely and cares about improving the developer experience. Many of their recent changes have been in direct response to developer outcries.

24 Comments

Ah, Gruber, the blogger I try to avoid reading because he’s always the Tim Apple apologist.

Those Japanese users ARE “entitled”, and Apple Japan has spent decades cultivating goodwill amongst users and developers. Apple Japan has a lot of nice people in their org, they helped me in the 90s when I worked there, and I met a few in my brief time in Silly Valley much later. If they still work for Tim Apple Inc. I really feel sorry for any remaining as they’re taking a lot of heat right now.

Most conflict in East Asia is solved behind the scenes and there is NEVER any public complaint EVER, unless the wronged parties see that there is no other recourse. That is where Tim Apple is in Japan now.

And that is where the Japanese devs are at this point. There is simply no recourse with Apple, so they *very publicly* “fervently hope that Epic” (or the JFTC) take down Tim Apple Inc. a notch.

You can bet that if Japanese devs are saying "Apple’s app review is often ambiguous, subjective and irrational" and you think they're saying what's really on their mind, the truth must be an order of magnitude worse. Japanese people will never tell you what they truly think unless you're a very close friend or family member (and even then, you might have to really pry to get a straight answer). It's probably more like "Apple is a ruthless dictator who is completely full of shit and don't know their ass from their elbow".

When folks use "Tim Apple" as an insult I just stop reading the rest of their comment.

There are many different metrics to measure how successful and healthy Apple is. By the majority (most even?) of them, it's hard not to say that Tim's been a good CEO for Apple. By simply dismissing him with a Tim Apple comment it... well...it doesn't say much about the person commenting imo.

@Bryan Piterzak
I do agree that it's childish and makes me roll my eyes. That said, admitting you dismiss entire comments just because you read two words that rub you the wrong way, doesn't say much about you either. It's just words on a screen.

I agree that saying "Tim Apple" is about on par with saying "Microshaft Winblows", but the criticism of Cook isn't that he did't make Apple more successful, it's that he's putting economic success above creating compelling, user-friendly products, and above encouraging a healthy ecosystem where good developers can make good software, and create sustainable revenue.

He's making Apple successful at the expense of Apple's users and developers.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I don't know why folks consider "Tim Apple" oh... what's the word I'm looking for? "Hate" "Speech". Or as we used to call that, "Think" "Different."

It's merely shorthand to differentiate "Old Apple" from "Tim Apple". I apologize profusely for offending anyone who thought otherwise, as well to Trump supporters for my "ORANGE_CHEETO" remarks. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tim Apple is shorthand for everything that happened on Tim Cook's watch including the unscheduled oust of Scott Forestall. Since Tim Apple is slowly but surely locking down all our devices and strives to exert 100% control over speech on plaform, he can take 100% of the responsibility as well as abide by his own rules when this fiasco plays out: He can "disinvite himself" from the company after the various regulators and "concerned parties" are done.

And personally I do not like "successful Tim Apple" -- I like hungry Think Different Apple that used to be educational and dare I say, "fun" even at work. This slow walk "altering the deal of devices we already paid for" deserves scorn and derision.

The point here is that "old Apple" despite the Jobs RDF could be reasoned with. Jobs to his credit knew when to turn OFF the RDF and fireside chat with everyone, I refer to "you're holding it wrong" (we have to put the antenna here) and "About Flash" (Look, we tried with Adobe but Flash utterly killed the batteries). Old Apple could be backchanneled and reasoned with.

But we get none of this from "Tim Apple", just that weird "yelling at the users with a smile" style of speaking that TBQH, reminds me of George W Bush, who was also a "his way or the highway" type of executive. It's Tim Apple's way or the highway. Is this a wrong assessment? No.

The worm turned for me when Cook gleefully informed the faithful, and I'm paraphrasing, "Hate Speech has no room on our platform."

All "Hate Speech" is, is speech that you don't like. It's "Think Different" as there will always be speech that someone doesn't like. Old Apple to their credit NEVER stifled speech, and encouraged dissent. "Think Different" died the day Cook made that speech.

People are coming to understand that "Tim Apple, Inc." doesn't have those values anymore and can't be reasoned with, only "feared." And that any dissent they may have will be regarded as "Hate Speech"-- and they are rightly afraid of reprisals.

So while "Tim Apple" is just a minor jab like "Windoze" is now, it will probably mean something quite different a year from now. Then again, who knows?

Nobody said that "Tim Apple" was "hate speech".

Controlling how people use their devices has always been in Apple's DNA. As far back as 1981, when working on the original Macintosh, Steve Jobs tried to make it as locked-down as possible. The old Apple would have been way more restrictive than Tim Cook's Apple.

Epic's point still stands: if there were alternative App Stores, Apple would have to compete for software to publish. Their attitude would change from an entitled monopolist to a partner.

Apple probably also irritates Japanese game developers because US and Japanese cultures are so different. For instance, what is "cute" or "sexy" in both places is very different. Imposing US standards on other cultures is actually a form of cultural imperialism... and that's what the FAANG companies think they are virtuous for doing with their "hate speech" and "indecency" standards. It's ironic, given the attention being given to "decolonisation", etc, in the US.

Reputation also matters in Japan. If a store sells a faulty product, the store's reputation is tarnished. Having subpar infrastructure on the developer side probably does not "spark joy" in Japanese developers, to quote Marie Kondo, but rather discomfort and embarrassment.

I, too, have gotten pretty tired of reading "Tim Apple" 15 times a day here, interspersed with the occasional all caps. It's really reminiscent of forum posts from the late nineties when that one person would write "Micro$oft" or "Windoze" over and over again, not realizing how childish that looks.

It appears that a small number of people come here to post primarily for emotional relief, and this trends seems to have accelerated significantly during the past couple months. That's really a shame, because it distracts a bit from all the high quality information that makes the comments feed of this site so valuable.

My personal experience trying to put my app in apple App Store was 10 times more frustrating and time consuming as oppose to Google play store. I think there is big issue apple need to address before it is too late. and developers start to treat their apps in App Store as second class.

BR, Agreed. It's way too much trouble. There's a ton of bureaucracy, inconsistency, and rigmarole. Unclear documentation, sudden rejections for things as benign as saying "iPhone" or "iMessage" in the app description, forcing Watch extensions to include a video for TestFlight, app transport security, indefinite review delays, threats against calling private APIs, pushing subscriptions but disallowing trials, laborious StoreKit testing, .... , there's too many to list.

To keep this positive, alternatives to the App Store for macOS are very modern and usable. Gumroad, for example, and Stripe for processing payments. Then you can attach binaries to your own webpage or newsletter, and signup users from your same private server. You can actually market, sell, distribute, and upgrade users from a single webpage or server, without jumping through hoops to test or process returns. You actually know who your users are! It's such a viable way of doing business I can't see how iOS can argue for a single store for much longer. I don't care much for Epic's store, but as a game developer, I already have to do so much with servers and microtransactions, as well as testing, that I really don't consider the App Store as a viable way to support long-term studio growth until there are stores -- or your own servers -- that can better cater to games and game developers.

Tim Apple frequently makes me livid. Latest case in point:

"Apple has added Smart App Banners to the latest iOS 14 beta that prompt Safari users to open its News app when viewing the website of a publisher that is part of Apple News+."

https://www.macrumors.com/2020/09/09/ios-14-safari-users-see-apple-news-banner/

THIS IS SLEAZY!!! Isn't this the kind of low-brow self-serving built-in-app-promoting advertising that we used to bash Microsoft for?

And didn't Apple itself used to be the antithesis of this?

This kind of garbage is why I hate Tim Apple. And it's why iOS is not a fair platform (no matter how much Tim Cook lies to Congress) because Apple is constantly leveraging built-in advantages that it would NEVER permit any 3rd party developer to use. Can you imagine if Google tried to do such a thing on every Safari website view that could be redirected to Google News? Can you imagine if Instagram hooked into your personal photo feed and popped up a "view photos like this in Instagram!" notification every time you opened your Camera Roll? What if every time you opened an email there was a popup to "Message this person on Facebook!" Of course not! It's absurd!

Chester and BM: I'm just going to say, on topic, any developer who can go thru all these workflows and bureacracy is a saint. I frankly don't enjoy (any) interactions with Apple, and a multi-trillion dollar company asking me to work for free submitting bugs to /dev/null is not my idea of a good time.

I want to tell some stories though that are on topic: the last three interactions I've had with devs of apps that are unique to iOS, that I cannot even use on macOS. I'm going to keep things vague as I don't want "trouble from Apple" for these devs...!

Story 1 is an app that allows me to fling UNIX cmds and even Automator workflows from my iPhone to any Mac in my house or even 100s of miles away without having to remote in. I can embed command in a button control or even feed data from Sharesheet, Restart a server, have Downie download a seminar video for later and get status back on the iPhone of success/fail. This app is magic. Dev wrote back to me that Apple was too frustrating to work with and that the the platforms and rules change too much, "this was just supposed to be a side project" and not take so much time." Dev doesn't know what to do now, he may open source and walk away.

*GROAN*

Story 2 can be a suite of apps that handle Chinese Japanese and Korean language OCR and link with a dictionary, flash cards, and other learning functions. Before iOS, students and expats either hauled around really thick books or $500-$850 LCD based "Word Tanks" or Electric Dictionaries that took CF or SD expansion to add another 200K words. That I can now get apps in the $9-$20 range for Japanese and slightly more expensive for Chinese is really magical, and these devs are saints. So I mailed one of these devs whose app can now open web pages and add "rubi" (reading assistance) characters for Kanji/Hanzi and why don't they open a persistent page or one that is full size for my iPad pro? Answer was the app having a functional browser might have to be rated as "adult" for content and it takes too much time to negotiate with Apple AND they want younger students to be able to use the apps.

*GROAN*

Story 3 is about a bluetooth LE app that puts biometrics on your iPhone and allows you to open your Macs from any device that uses Face- or TouchID and when you walk away? It locks their screens without fail. Again, this is magic that, for a time only Macs and iOS had. So. For a time, even up until Mojave these apps were mostly reliable, Last month I upgrade to Catalina and the app gets REALLY flakey. Then 13.7 rolls around and the. apps. simply. will. not. connect. I have some back and forth with the dev, like all... all not "most" I get a reply, of some things to try. Turns out the methods we used for Mojave didn't apply, so I go to the iOS AppStore reviews and there are a string of Catalina/1-star reviews for this what was a 4-5 star app.

The last point is that the other apps were also getting 1-starred and this REALLY IS NOT FAIR to devs when Apple introducing a minor bug into iOS 13.7 where it needs to be paired and permissioned again and again... suffice to say, this when I mailed this dev he also had frustrations that a side job had turned into too much time and "why can't apple leave things, I'm spending too much time on this app".. This seems to be a common theme that these devs are overworked and burning out from "working with Apple."

I think you guise (unisex term) are saints to be giving far too much time to a company that demands top dollar in commissions from you, and if you have a free app calls you a "deadbeat". And compared with Apple before seems you get nearly nothing in return.

Anyway some of us (now retired, maybe even ex-tech 'insider') endusers notice. Kindly indulge us if we call foul on your behalf. I said it before, and I will keep saying it: In the 30+ years that I've run Apple kit, the last 2 have been the most acrimonious. But the only reason I'll "come back" is the developers, who (as long as they're allowed to) make our (increasingly locked down) devices do utter magic.

To any Apple people reading this: These "developers" don't exist and I'm spinning tall tales. This is all fabrication. Please fix the remaining kernel panic in Catalina. Carry on.

THIS IS SLEAZY!!! Isn’t this the kind of low-brow self-serving built-in-app-promoting advertising that we used to bash Microsoft for?

Uh.

Maybe you missed this part from the article: “It’s worth noting that the banners only appear for users who subscribe to ‌Apple News‌+.”

If I pay for Apple News+, I presumably want Apple News+ to be the primary way to read the magazines that it features.

Can you imagine if Google tried to do such a thing on every Safari website view that could be redirected to Google News?

Um. AMP?

Wait, people think "Tim Apple" is some kind of slur or pejorative? While possibly on the unkind side I thought the point was to reflect on how Tim Cook's Apple is different than prior Apple. Look, the company has always had an anticompetitive streak, but clearly the more they vertically integrate, increasingly with "services", the more Apple is squeezing not only their customers, but their unfairly maligned developer base. Honestly, it is not even the same realm as CRAPPLE or MICRO$OFT, which I abhor on account of its puerile lack of creativity. but I suppose people could continue to call out "Tim Cook and leadership of Apple" as a longer way of saying the same thing?

Tim Cook is a phony and seemingly a liar (remember when lying to Congress would be prosecuted, but that's been a decade plus of non action on various liars under oath.) so I am going to call him a fake ass bama, which is intended to be mean and personal. I am tired of us holding rich people to a lower standard than the one we hold each other. They are people, they make mistakes, but this pattern of mistakes sure makes it seems like intentional behavior.

@Sören
Yeah, Google used to push the "Hey, we see you aren't using Chrome, switch browsers and use Chrome or we will artificially cripple your experience" banners, so really every big company kind of sucks for the user.

> Maybe you missed this part from the article: “It’s worth noting that the banners only appear for users who subscribe to ‌Apple News‌+.”

Isn't that totally irrelevant? If being a literal "subscriber" matters to you (versus a user who has a 3rd party app installed -- I think there's no real difference), how about if when I'm in Apple Music (I'm not a subscriber) I get a Spotify overlay (I'm a subscriber) which says "Listen to this entire album on Spotify!" ???

> Um. AMP?

That's also weird and sleazy, but also totally different? The equivalent would be going to the NYT website directly in Safari and having an overlay that says "Click here to view this article on Google News!". Which is exactly what Apple is doing.

Isn’t that totally irrelevant?

I think it’s quite relevant. If you subscribe to News+, odds are you explicitly want to use that app, and want using it to be as convenient as possible. That includes being able to jump from it from Safari.

If being a literal “subscriber” matters to you (versus a user who has a 3rd party app installed — I think there’s no real difference), how about if when I’m in Apple Music (I’m not a subscriber) I get a Spotify overlay (I’m a subscriber) which says “Listen to this entire album on Spotify!” ???

That analogy doesn’t work.

The analogy would be: you go to the Barenaked Ladies website, and there’s a bar at the top asking if you want to listen to them in Apple Music, even though you also have Spotify.

That’s also weird and sleazy, but also totally different? The equivalent would be going to the NYT website directly in Safari and having an overlay that says “Click here to view this article on Google News!”. Which is exactly what Apple is doing.

With AMP, when going to a Google search result for a news article, you don’t end up in that article. You end up in Google’s re-hosted version of the article, with Google’s interface. And unlike with News+, you never consented to that, and to my knowledge, you also cannot opt out at all (other than by using a different search engine).

I think you're missing the point, Sören. Would Apple allow Google News to hijack Safari in a similar way? Obviously no. So then, how is this not anticompetitive? Apple claims (and Tim Cook testifies to Congress!) that everyone is on the same playing field, that Apple doesn't give its own apps advantages that 3rd party developers can't access. It's obviously a lie, and this Apple News integration is just the latest example. It's no different than the integration that Apple News has which Spotify can't do with its app. It's wrong, and it's no different than what Microsoft got slapped down for doing with Internet Explorer 20 years ago.

*Apple Music / Spotify

I think you’re missing the point, Sören. Would Apple allow Google News to hijack Safari in a similar way? Obviously no.

No, but they should. We shouldn’t make Apple News+ worse just because Apple doesn’t provide APIs (yet) such that competing services can get better.

This is a weakness in Universal Links that hopefully eventually becomes improved upon. I want Twitter links to open in Tweetbot, reddit links in Apollo, and, yes, maybe news links in Google News (on average, it’s less terrible than actual news sites).

Apple claims (and Tim Cook testifies to Congress!) that everyone is on the same playing field, that Apple doesn’t give its own apps advantages that 3rd party developers can’t access.

Yes, well, that has been discussed to death.

I don’t know if Cook doesn’t know better or is lying about that (and neither is a good look).

It’s wrong, and it’s no different than what Microsoft got slapped down for doing with Internet Explorer 20 years ago.

From an antitrust perspective, it’s rather relevant that Microsoft, at the time, dominated desktop OSes. Apple does not dominate mobile OSes. You can realistically get an Android phone where Apple News+ isn’t tightly integrated.

(And, again, you can also simply not subscribe to Apple News+. It’s a paid service. Who’s gonna pay for it and then simultaneously think, “gee, this integration is rather annoying”? This News+ story just doesn’t strike me as a great example.)

> Apple does not dominate mobile OSes

How is that any different than Microsoft in the late 90s? There was Apple, Linux, Sun...

Using "Android exists" as an excuse is sidestepping the issue. It's possible to be anticompetitive and in violation of the law without having 50%+n percentage of market dominance. And in reality it's like saying "Well, if you don't like Nintendo, you can always play Super Mario Brothers on a Playstation!" Except, no, I can't.

> Who’s gonna pay for it and then simultaneously think, “gee, this integration is rather annoying”?

More than a few people, I would guess: https://lapcatsoftware.com/articles/StopTheNews.html

Apple does not dominate mobile OSes

How is that any different than Microsoft in the late 90s? There was Apple, Linux, Sun…

Considerably different. In many industries, it was virtually impossible to escape Windows in the late 90s. It is quite possible to switch between Android and iOS. It’s painful (especially if you need to re-buy apps), but possible.

Using “Android exists” as an excuse is sidestepping the issue.

No, it’s very relevant. A duopoly isn’t the same as a monopoly. It still isn’t great, but it does open up a choice.

It’s possible to be anticompetitive and in violation of the law without having 50%+n percentage of market dominance.

Yes, but the case is much harder to make than it would be if Apple had 90% of the market. They don’t.

And in reality it’s like saying “Well, if you don’t like Nintendo, you can always play Super Mario Brothers on a Playstation!” Except, no, I can’t.

No. You don’t have some kind of right to a particular consumer product, especially when tons of alternative products in that category exist.

More than a few people, I would guess:

I don’t know if News+ articles can even be read in Safari at all. (I think you’re confusing the two services?)

Anyway, yes, like I said, Universal Links need to become more configurable.

[…] publicly on many subjects. Exhibit A: Complaints from developers are numerous and well known as shown here. Those are samples from the ones who chose to speak out. It is well known that many developers are […]

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment