Archive for September 30, 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Third-Generation Apple TVs Suffering From Software Update 7.6

Adam Engst:

Third-generation Apple TV users are now experiencing crashes when pausing YouTube videos, and others are having intermittent AirPlay problems that include freezing and audio-only over a blank screen. The only workarounds are to wait 90 seconds for the Apple TV to time out and reload the Home screen, or to restart the Apple TV either by pressing the Menu and Down buttons on the remote simultaneously or by power-cycling the unit. There are also problems with loading Apple TV+ shows promoted in the What to Watch area at the top of the Home screen, though they load fine when accessed from within the Apple TV app.

It’s apparently possible to downgrade a third-generation Apple TV, but it requires some potentially iffy software downloads and connecting the Apple TV to your Mac.

And the Remote app has been broken with 3rd-generation Apple TVs for years.

Widgetsmith and The Case of the Missing App Store Bunco Squad

John Gruber:

Search for “Widgetsmith” — the exact name of Smith’s app — and the first app in the results is not Widgetsmith but a name-alike ripoff called, I swear, “Widgetsmith - Color Widgets”. This utterly shameless ripoff, replete with a ham-fisted knockoff of the icon to boot, is listed above the actual Widgetsmith, despite the fact that the actual Widgetsmith is currently the #1 app in Productivity and has over 53,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews. The ripoff app has 25 5-star ratings, one 1-star rating, and one written review, which reads, verbatim, “Thank developer for making such great app especially for iOS 14!” The entire description of the ripoff app is written in similar broken English.


The ripoff version is now popular enough to be ranked #7 on the Entertainment list.


The App Store is not trustworthy if that includes trusting that the apps in its trending lists and search results are legitimate. If Apple ran a food court like they run the App Store they’d let a McDowell’s open up two stores down from McDonald’s.

Second, even accepting that this app was allowed into the store with this name and this icon, how in the world does it rank ahead of the actual Widgetsmith in search results?

Marco Arment:

With all of the bullshit Apple’s app review puts us through, I can’t believe how many obvious scams and clones they let through.

Apparently, they don’t check new submissions to see if they’re obviously infringing directly on the name and icon of the #1 app in the App Store.

Marco Arment:

And not addressing another problem, in which the subtitle field was introduced to stop app titles of the form:

App Name - Spammy Keywords

…with a resulting promise that the rules would prohibit such names in the future — but they aren’t, hence penalizing only the good devs.

Jason Chase:

Copies the number one AND number two apps. Looking at the screenshots it copied color widgets (#2 app) then they tacked on Widgetsmith to the App Store name.


Update (2020-10-01): David Smith:

It is kind of amazing to me that on the Google Play store it is even possible to have two copycats using exactly the same name, at the same time. Three overall right now, with one I had removed over the weekend. I guess this is my life now...or I need to make an Android app 😱.

Pop Out Timer Rejected From the App Store

Jeremy Provost:

Pop Out Timer is an app that plays a video of a timer using Picture in Picture so the timer is always on screen. It has been available in the App Store for over 2 years. It has gone through 20+ rounds of App Review approval. Our most recent update has been rejected for undocumented and arbitrary reasons. And our request for a bug fix update was denied for undocumented and arbitrary reasons.


We were told repeatedly on the phone that everything is handled on a “case-by-case basis”. When we proposed a potential solution (one that would require significant time and effort on our part, essentially re-writing and re-purposing the entire app) we were told that we would have to do that work and submit and only then would they tell us if it was an acceptable use of Picture in Picture. That’s open and transparent?


We asked App Review if YouTube had a timer video on their website would it be allowed (hint: they already exist). We were told that would not be a problem for YouTube. How is that treating every developer the same?

While we’re talking about YouTube, they only allow Picture in Picture for their Premium subscribers, seemingly violating 3.2.2 ii of the App Review Guidelines by forcing users to pay for something that is a built-in capability provided by the operating system.

Marco Arment:

YouTube locking iOS picture-in-picture behind Premium is indeed a violation of 3.2.2, but that’s almost never enforced (or particularly enforceable).

It’s only marginally more enforceable than 4.5.4 (no promotional notifications), which is never enforced.

Scott Buscemi:

Enforce App Store rules and do not allow ads in notifications. Or at least require them to be an option.

Tim Schmitz:

I got rejected for violating 3.2.2 a few years ago. As a tiny developer, there was nothing I could do about it. It’s super frustrating to see Apple make a huge stink about some rules, let others slide for big developers, then claim they treat everyone the same.

Ryan Jones:

Did you know Background Audio has been a premium YouTube feature for years? Maybe 3-4 years actually. Same exact violation.

David Barnard:

Apple should really put this in writing, but they have consistently approved bundling system features for years.

And it really does make sense. Widgets and complications are crazy expensive for apps like weather apps, being able to bundle those features as part of a subscription is the only way I can offer those in @Weather_Up_. YouTube can’t show ads in PiP.


Update (2021-01-04): Jeremy Provost (tweet):

After back and forth with Beta App Review, attempting to appease them as best we could, another rejection, a lot of back and forth with App Review (and a blog post), a crashing bug caused by iOS 14.2 (with all the emails and negative reviews that go along with that), an official appeal, a few phone calls, an official “suggested change to an App Review guideline”, an email, and finally a voicemail with the good news: Pop Out Timer 3.1.4 is now live in the App Store. It’s a relief after a stressful 4 months.

LatherApp Rejected From the App Store

Jeremy Provost:

While Apple was busy developing a hand washing timer for Apple Watch, App Review was rejecting LatherApp for being a hand washing timer that was not provided by a recognized health authority. We had to check after WWDC to make sure Apple had not suddenly become a recognized health authority, but no, they simply changed their rule exactly when it benefited them.

In the meantime Apple forced us to remove every single possible reference to hand washing if we wanted to have LatherApp approved. They then rejected us simply for using the name LatherApp. From their perspective, “lather” is something that only occurs during hand washing, and even sending them a dictionary definition was not enough to get them to change their mind.

The app originally shipped, before WWDC, as Wash Stuff. Apple recently allowed it to be renamed back to LatherApp and to mention hand washing.