Thursday, August 11, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Telegram Stuck in App Review

Sami Fathi:

In his Telegram channel, Durov says that an update to Telegram for iOS that will change how people communicate has been stuck in Apple’s App Store review process for over two weeks, with no communication from the company over why or when it will be approved. Durov points out that if an app as popular as Telegram receives this treatment, one can “imagine the difficulties experienced by smaller app developers.”

Previously:

Update (2022-08-29): Jay Peters (via Hacker News):

“After extensive media coverage of my previous post, Apple got back to us with a demand to water down our pending Telegram update by removing Telemoji — higher quality vector-animated versions of the standard emoji,” Durov wrote on his Telegram channel on Friday.

[…]

Personally, I think the Telemoji look like a lot of fun. I love how they add some life to static emoji faces I’ve gotten quite familiar with. But I’m guessing Apple took issue with another company modifying its designs in this way, which might be why it asked Telegram to remove Telemoji from the update.

There is, in fact, a specific rule 5.2.5 against using Apple’s emoji designs:

Apps and extensions, including third-party keyboards and Sticker packs, may not include Apple emoji.

It’s not entirely clear what this means. Apple seems to have no issue with apps like MaskerAid using Apple emoji as design elements. I would have thought surely that embedding modified versions of Apple’s copyrighted images would be over the line, but I guess it’s not that far over because it took Apple several weeks to decide.

Durov had said that Apple held the app in limbo without any communication, however, AppleInsider writes:

Apple says it provided clear communications with Telegram throughout the review process, including that it would take longer for reviewing the app. In the case of Telegram’s rejection, Apple provided a written notice and a phone call, with the latter checking Telegram knew the reason for the rejection, and how to get back into compliance.

I initially read this as contradicting Durov, but that’s not necessarily true. Apple has a history of releasing carefully crafted statements that give the impression that the developer was lying. When you look closer, it often turns out that there is no contraction, just differing spins, or that Apple was the one lying. It could be that Apple told him up front that reviewing would take longer but never gave any specifics until weeks later, after all the press, when it finally rejected the update and explained its reasoning.

Ryan Jones (via Dave Wood):

I made an app called Animoji (yup) in 2016 for the launch of “iMessage App Store” that got rejected ~10x for this exact reason.

Basically they were too good. Even when we removed the “gloss” from the designs it was rejected repeatedly.

13 Comments

Harald Striepe

We have not had that experience. Apps have been processed with few delays.

Old Unix Geek

@Harald: perhaps your app isn't as "revolutionary" as Pavel's.

Hypotheses:

* Apple wants exclusivity over a feature telegram has.

* Telegram is widely used to avoid twitter censorship. Those who want to censor conversation might not like that.

* Apple reviews apps with many users more than those with few.

* Pavel's lying

Frankly the last hypothesis seems the least likely to me. The rest aren't to Apple's favor. Oh well.

Two weeks doesn't even seem all that long, given Apple's track record.

Turns out Telegram’s much ballyhooed ‘groundbreaking’ feature that was holding things up was animating Apple’s presumably copyrighted emoji…

https://www.theverge.com/2022/8/12/23303446/telegram-update-apple-emoji-telemoji

Seriously, couldn’t they just make their own designs?

@Ginkgo That’s really disappointing, though one wonders why Apple held it in limbo instead of immediately rejecting it.

Old Unix Geek

@Gingko: interesting, I did not think of that one.

I'm not sure what to think of animated emojis.

I kind of like the ones in Skype, but given that emojis are used more often I'm afraid 😟 it would get shooting 😠 fast ⏩ 😂😂😂

"one wonders why Apple held it in limbo instead of immediately rejecting it."

I guess it depends on exactly what the problem with Telegram's emojis actually is, but if it is a copyright violation, establishing that on Apple's side might not have been something the reviewer could do unilaterally.

I think Plume is right, I wouldn’t be surprised if it started a long internal discussion inside of Apple. Given that historically they’ve been somewhat relaxed with letting others use them, I could see it being a difficult discussion.

The marketing graphics from Telegram feels totally like it is stealing the look of Apple’s upcoming Emoji wallpaper. Plus their attitude about blatantly violating Apple’s designs is impressive, to quote Telegram:

“After extensive media coverage of my previous post, Apple got back to us with a demand to water down our pending Telegram update by removing Telemoji — higher quality vector-animated versions of the standard emoji,” Durov wrote on his Telegram channel on Friday. “This is a puzzling move on Apple’s behalf, because Telemoji would have brought an entire new dimension to its static low-resolution emoji and would have significantly enriched their ecosystem.”

So Telegram wants to replace Apple’s work with their own throughout iOS and what not? Yeah, that’s going to fly…

@Ginkgo I thought there was already a case a few years ago where Apple came down hard on someone reusing their copyrighted emoji?

@Michael Tsai If that is right (I totally am not surprised if that is the case, when I was trying to figure the copyright status all that came up in a quick search was a lawsuit against Apple for the more diversification of emojis) this makes Telegram's actions even dumber - either a total lack of due diligence from their legal team or an intentional copyright violation on their part.

That being said, Apple's designs definitely are the cultural default for Emoji styles. There are so many people using them on everything from hamburger buns to pillows.

Apple finally pointed out that it was a violation of the Apple Developer guidelines:
https://appleinsider.com/articles/22/08/12/telegram-app-update-was-held-up-over-ios-inspired-animated-emoji

"During the app's review, Apple found Telegram's emoji feature used the same design as the company's own emoji, which violates guideline 5.2.5 that prohibits apps and extensions from using Apple emoji.

Apple says it provided clear communications with Telegram throughout the review process, including that it would take longer for reviewing the app. In the case of Telegram's rejection, Apple provided a written notice and a phone call, with the latter checking Telegram knew the reason for the rejection, and how to get back into compliance."

@Ginkgo Yeah, this is seeming more like a marketing stunt.

> Apple says it provided clear communications with Telegram throughout the review process, including that it would take longer for reviewing the app. In the case of Telegram's rejection, Apple provided a written notice and a phone call, with the latter checking Telegram knew the reason for the rejection, and how to get back into compliance.

Oops. :-)

Of course, Apple has only itself — its secretiveness, and its history or capricious App Store policy decisions — to blame for people assuming they were in the wrong.

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