Monday, September 28, 2020

App Review Should Be Stricter

Miguel de Icaza (tweet, Hacker News):

While some developers are upset with the Apple Store rejections, profiteers have figured out that they can make a fortune while abiding by the existing rules. These rules allow behaviors that are in either poor taste, or explicitly manipulating the psyche of the user.


We now have a rule at home “No free games or games with In-App Purchases”. While this works for “Can I get a new game?”, it does not work for the existing games that they play, and those that they play with their friends.


These dark patterns are not limited applications for kids, read the end of this post for a list of negative scenarios that my followers encountered that will ring familiar.

The App Store is simultaneously too strict (to be the sole source of apps for half of the mobile duopoly) and not strict enough (to be the curated, safe environment that it’s often promoted as).


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This is the part of the App Store that to me most exposes Apple’s hypocrisy. They act as if the App Store is this perfect utopia that is protecting consumers from evil developers. The store has been full scams since the beginning. I remember when the store first came out there was an app that cost around $1000 and all it did was show the text “I’m Rich” (or something similar).

Apple is prioritizing services as revenue. They don’t care about their customers, and they definitely don’t care about developers. In fact they actually say developers are stealing from them if they are not using apples payment system.

Almost everything they have said in the last few years about the App Store makes me frustrated or angry.

@Mike Couldn't have said it better. I am going to be specific, Time Cooks's Apple hypocrisy is getting extremely frustrating and annoying.

It needs to go back to the old ways of doing things, from Apple Retail, Apple Services, and possibly Apple Product Design.

AppStore has a poorly functioning search, in fact all apple products have a weak search, iTunes (music), spotlight etc. Even though it's a core technology. That is a big problem just by itself, but also it greatly compounds on the poor curation problems of AppStore.

In a way, from the user point of view, there are honest developers, and there are scammers. We want Apple to be strict with later and more relaxed with former.

Everyone is telling Apple to go back to the "old ways"

- Stop treating devs like "employees" and GTFO of their business.

- Spend every last erg purging FRAUD from the AppStore. EVERY. LAST. ERG.

- Leave speech alone. If Chinese users want "Daiyuu Island Defense" and Japanese want "Senkaku Island Defense" it's none of your damned business, 白左 Tim Apple. Oh and BTW they're the same islands.

Tim Apple actually won an award for policing... NOT FRAUD. Yes, the award was for "curation" aka "censorship" from a gathering of his "new friends" in banking (Apple Pay) and "entertainment" (Apple TV). He wouldn't have either of those businesses without making inroads into those industries and having Davos-tier "friends" for guidance, all transient executive hires aside.

This short, very well sourced video is worth your time if you want to understand what happened to Silicon Valley, and who lead the charge for censorship over all else including quality.

There's a method to Tim Apple's hypocrisy. There's also a reason why Apple has no bandwidth to go after FRAUD (oh, and that 30% cut on fraud is great too... for them).

Silly Valley used to prioritize quality and stability of their ASP platforms and speech was STRICTLY OFF THE TABLE prior to 2016 or so. That's when things changed. That's when we all became subjects of Tim Apple's "moral obligation" that is prioritized over what was Apple Quality and "it just works."

And yes, it's a vicious circle: Apple doesn't "allow objectionable apps"... but they let Dark UX fraud slide right through, they don't seem to cooperate with law enforcement that much, so the fraudsters "run free" instead of getting prosecuted in their geos. If Apple was turning over evidence via legal discovery many of these fraudsters wouldn't come back and this includes China.

But the fraudsters come back to the AppStore and do it again. And I'm just gonna say it again, Scott Forestall was ousted for far less and I miss engineering driven, hungry innovative Apple. I have no need for "morally obligated to some NGO over users and developers" Apple.

The various App review insufficiencies come about because the walled garden itself is the wrong paradigm for computing platforms. Decouple app installation from mandatory app review approval, from mandatory app hosting, from mandatory payment processing, aka allow sideloading, and Apple can afford to be more judicious with not allowing certain kinds of apps in the app store. Too bad the author of the linked blog post has already said he prefers the walled garden because Apple is doing an excellent job keeping he and his family safe. Yes, head shaking about face.

In the end, I value my iOS devices because I know that I can trust them with my information because security is paramount to Apple.


In the battle over the security and privacy of my phone, I am happy to pay a premium knowing that my information is safe and sound, and that it is not going to be sold to the highest bidder.

Seriously, Miguel is a strange dude, does this not sound, in a circuitous way perhaps, Apple selling their platform eyeballs to their partners? Apple takes a 30% cut of all those subs and in-app purchases, yeah? Miguel's last big post on this topic was just over a month ago, now he's complaining how much junk is in the app store? Miguel can wallow in the layers of filth that the app store has created or leave the platform since he sees no reason to fix the actual problems and would rather apply bandages to each wound separately.

I do not disagree whether predatory apps with their pushy trial offers and in-app purchases should be curtailed. Yes, of course they should, but come on, this problem is of Apple's own making and Miguel already defended the company from any criticism of their terrible ecosystem rules. Furthermore, he showed no real sympathy to actual developers who have been jerked around by Apple's every shifting, never universally applied policies, but wants to complain because he cannot simply apply parental controls and tell his kids no? I tell my daughter no to these types of apps constantly. If I do allow one, it is on a trial basis, if the app acts too scummy, it's gone. It is an annoyingly microparenting task yet I do it anyway.

If the app store can be accused of simultaneously being too lax and too strict (mutually exclusive, diametrically opposed, viewpoints one would think), then there are deeper seated problems with the structure of iOS app development and deployment.

Old Unix Geek

In the end, I value my iOS devices because I know that I can trust them with my information because security is paramount to Apple.

Meet Pegasus:

It's easier to code on iOS because there are so few variants of iOS... and conveniently all the people who pay a premium to learn less about the messy parts of technology happen to buy iPhones.

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