Archive for May 10, 2021

Monday, May 10, 2021

Epic v. Apple, Day 5

Adi Robertson (tweet, also: Nick Statt, Elizabeth Lopatto, Ian Sherr):

On the fifth day of court, however, Apple tried to turn into a liability — by telling Epic Games Store general manager Steven Allison about “so-called adult games” that were “so offensive we cannot speak about them here.” is one of relatively few non-game apps on the Epic Games Store, along with software like the Brave browser.


Apple essentially warned Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers that [sideloading] would mean forcing Apple to indirectly allow a sexualized visual novel about incest […] onto the iPhone.

Of course, such content is already available on iPhone via Safari, and via third-party apps such as Web browsers, site-specific browsers, and e-book readers. Making it available via a third-party store would improve the user experience without changing what’s shown in Apple’s own store.

Judge Rogers seemed to take the concern seriously, asking Allison to explain whether Apple was correct. Allison demurred, although he later pushed back on Apple’s veiled suggestion that Epic kick off the Epic Games Store. “ is an incredible community for developers that we support fully,” Allison said, “they have an open platform, and therefore have different moderation standards than the Epic Games Store.”


Some people were upset at Apple going after a platform that’s particularly favored by queer developers offering depictions of sexuality you won’t find in big-budget games.

Nathan Grayson (via Hacker News):

It began as part of a series of inquiries in which Apple’s lawyer was attempting to establish Epic’s quality control process (or lack thereof).


Allison replied by pointing out that is on Epic, but it is not, itself, the Epic Games Store. “ is an app store that is not the Epic Games Store. We are not included in itch’s distributing pitch,” Allison said. “Epic is only distributing the app store of”


According to Apple unspeakable things happen at Like developers uploading any game they create, getting a fair share of revenue, consumers getting DRM-free content and even having an optional launcher...

That must be truly a ghastly sight for Apple. 👻

See also: Apple Sucked Tumblr Into Its Walled Garden, Where Sex Is Bad.

Nick Statt:

Very critical line of questioning from the judge, about whether Apple’s lack of competition on iOS for app stores stifles innovation in in app review.

Adi Robertson:

Epic’s lawyer is back and redirecting to macOS — pointing out that people can directly download apps from outside Apple’s store there, but it’s still considered safe for kids etc.

“I think there’s safety on Mac that’s superior” when downloading from App Store. “The threats that we see on iOS even within the App Store, I can’t say that a user outside the Mac App Store has a safe and trusted experience.”

Elizabeth Lopatto:

Roblox is not a game, but Minecraft was, Kosmynka said yesterday. “I’m having a hard time with that.” Roblox looks like electronic Duplos, the judge says. “I’m trying to understand what the distinction you’re making is.”

Ian Sherr:

App Review is within developer relations. Apple has an internal mantra “let’s get them to yes!” To help apps get approved.

“There’s a human being at the end of every rejection,” he says, so devs can call and work with Apple

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Hands up how many developers have called and ‘worked with Apple’ to get an app through App Review? In the calls that I’ve had, it was a lot more one-sided, and finding out how to address/fix a rejection at that level is like trying to get blood from a stone


Inside App Review

Steve Troughton-Smith has compiled some really interesting court exhibits from the Epic trial:

It seems like they create a trust score of your app based on a list of binary & metadata criteria, and then review what’s changed between versions


Apple acquired SourceDNA in 2016 to improve the automated binary analysis portion of App Review


As of 2015, there were 910 (!) different rules and other criteria that App Review used to approve/deny apps. Only a fraction of those are actually communicated to developers in the App Review Guidelines

Here are the top ten…

App Review’s static analysis includes checking for cookie-cutter apps, and the strings in your binary. Dynamic analysis runs your binary on a test farm and sees what you’re actually doing at runtime


Roblox was rejected for having minigames, and appealed to the App Review Board, saying that they would only add/remove minigames with submissions and not remotely. Nobody on the board replied to the email, so Roblox was given the go-ahead

Apple can end your business and not bother to reply to your email asking why or how you can change. Tribe was thrown under the bus (UTB) by another app developer presumably wondering why they had been rejected, and as a result got thrown out after 3 years on the App Store


Apple thinks developers are liars or idiots for telling Bloomberg that they — correctly — were approved to be on the App Store. There was no rule at the time to justify removing them, so Apple did it anyway and invented one after the fact

Apple didn’t want to come out publicly and say so, because it knew it had no actual rule to point to


Turns out it’s developers, via the developer agreement, that are responsible for ensuring the quality of apps on the App Store, not App Review at all. This is not surprising, but it could be an important distinction


The reason we lost Safari on Windows is the same reason we’re losing Safari on Mac. We didn’t innovate or enhance Safari’


Apple was utterly convinced of its iPhone (P2) security in 2006 right before it was announced. iPhone made it a month and a half after release before being jailbroken to run third-party apps, bypassing every security measure there was.


Forstall wanted to let Yahoo widgets on iOS.


Apple would ‘help’ CNBC write a story about how App Review is not a sweat shop despite its targets and overtime 🤨

See also: MacRumors.