Archive for October 31, 2022

Monday, October 31, 2022

UI Browser 4

Bill Cheeseman:

UI Browser 4 is now available for development as a public GitHub open source project, and it is open for discussion on the UI Browser Discussion page of the Late Night Software Forum. […] Although [many files] display a copyright notice, Bill Cheeseman and PFiddlesoft hereby dedicate them to the public domain.

Mark Aldritt:

As part of the handover by Bill Cheeseman of his UI Browser application to Late Night Software, we received the source code to an unfinished UI Browser 4. UI Browser 4 is a rewrite of UI Browser in Swift.


Update (2022-11-01): See also: Late Night Software.

Kathleen Booth, RIP

Liam Proven (Hacker News):

Professor Kathleen Booth, one of the last of the early British computing pioneers, has died. She was 100.


In 1946, Britten and Booth collaborated at Birkbeck on a very early digital computer, the Automatic Relay Calculator (ARC), and in doing so founded what is now Birkbeck’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.


Booth and Britten returned to the UK and redesigned their calculator based around these ideas, leading to the ARC2 and in the process inventing the first drum memory to provide enough storage to hold both program information and data. Building the ARC2 from relays proved too much, so in 1948, Booth and Britten moved on to the Simple Electronic Computer (SEC) and then the All Purpose Electronic X-Ray Computer or APE(X)C.


As well as building the hardware for the first machines, she wrote all the software for the ARC2 and SEC machines, in the process inventing what she called Contracted Notation. This language, through evolution and contributions by others, is today known as assembly language.

The Crypto Story

Joel Weber (tweet):

There was a moment not so long ago when I thought, “What if I’ve had this crypto thing all wrong?” I’m a doubting normie who, if I’m being honest, hasn’t always understood this alternate universe that’s been percolating and expanding for more than a decade now. If you’re a disciple, this new dimension is the future. If you’re a skeptic, this upside-down world is just a modern Ponzi scheme that’s going to end badly—and the recent “crypto winter” is evidence of its long-overdue ending. But crypto has dug itself into finance, into technology, and into our heads. And if crypto isn’t going away, we’d better attempt to understand it. Which is why we asked the finest finance writer around, Matt Levine of Bloomberg Opinion, to write a cover-to-cover issue of Bloomberg Businessweek[…]. What follows is his brilliant explanation of what this maddening, often absurd, and always fascinating technology means, and where it might go.

Gambling Ads on App Store Product Pages

Simon B. Støvring:

With Apple’s recent changes to ads on the App Store, your product pages may now show ads for gambling apps. One of my product pages just did that 😞

Marco Arment:

Now my app’s product page shows gambling ads, which I’m really not OK with.

Apple shouldn’t be OK with it, either.

The App Store has corrupted such a great company so deeply. They make so much from gambling and manipulative IAPs that they don’t even see the problem anymore.

Cabel Sasser:

It is really sad to me that Apple needs to start taking Casino Game Ad Money in order to make their line go up for the shareholders. When Steve introduced iAds and the whole pitch was, “These ads aren’t garbage, you’ll like these ads.” This department shouldn’t exist at all, imho

Sebastiaan de With:

I know it’s not as easily quantifiable, but Apple is utterly annihilating brand value, trust and goodwill with these ads. How is the revenue possibly worth it?

As a developer, this sucks. As a user, it sucks. As someone who cares about Apple products it’s just profoundly sad.

Nick Heer:

Apple is increasingly leveraging its customer base to maximize individual spending on services, accessories, and accessories for those accessories, but it is its cautious yet determined rollout of ads that makes me most nervous.


It feels like a bait and switch: my loyalty in buying products that are better for me as a user is being tested because shareholders need to see more services revenue. Apple knows most people will not switch because it relentlessly promotes its own services across its systems or because there are ads for third-party apps all over the App Store — or, if as rumoured, it rolls out ads in Maps. But it will feel a little bit scummier every time I go to download an app or get directions.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Apple: demands stringent content moderation in any apps with user generated content on the App Store

Also Apple: provides no way whatsoever for users to report a nefarious/malicious ad in the App Store app itself

Marco Arment:

“Stringent guidelines for the App Store” is a myth.

They’re strict about the 30%. Nearly every other “rule” is poorly, inconsistently, unevenly, or insufficiently enforced.

They’ve shown this over and over again. Again, actions speak louder than words.

Federico Viticci:

Can you imagine having $48.2 billion cash on hand and YET still thinking “ah yes, those House of Fun Casino ads will grow our bottom line, let’s do it”

i guess what i’m saying is that i miss the days when you opened the App Store and there was the app for farts, the one with the glass of beer, and, somehow, OmniFocus

John Voorhees:

I looked at this tonight too. They’re everywhere 😔


Just checked and my app that is mainly used by teachers and kids now show a sports betting ad too Is anyone at #AppStoreAds doing anything other than counting all the money they’re pulling in?

Rob McAlavey:

I’m seeing gambling ads on a popular children’s education app here in Australia for children aged 2-13 (Reading Eggs).


These App Store ads are something…

Reading? You might also like: Adult Video Chat

In Therapy for Addictions? You might also like: Gambling

Streaming Disney? You might also like: California Psychics

Improving your Marriage? You might also like: Hinge Dating


What’s this? Ads for gambling at the bottom of a listing for a gambling addiction recovery app.

Sean Heber:

The App Store thinks that if you like @linea_app, maybe you’d also like to invest in crypto?

John Gruber:

If these App Store ads were in our email inboxes, we’d all flag every one of them as spam.

Adam Faircloth:

There’s no longer any reason someone should browse the App Store. It’s a dirt mall with a mob casino in it.

If you want to find new good apps you have to read trusted journalists or listen to tech podcasts. Then scroll by the unrelated ad when you search for your new app.

John Voorhees:

Ads on developer product pages are yet another argument in favor of side loading.

Let developers sell their apps themselves, the way they want, and free of the junky, flea market vibe that has descended on the App Store.

Thomas Clement:

How messed up is this. To give Apple 30% of your revenue and get placed 8th position when someone searches for the exact app name.

Shac Ron:

When ads first appeared in the App Store in early iOS betas, many inside were very upset. It was an insult to our customers. We pushed back strongly. After a meeting where management pretended to listen to our concerns, it was evident they had no intention of changing their mind.

I’m glad to see apple getting raked for ads in the OS. They are disgusting and shameful. I hope they will realize how offensive these are, but realistically I doubt it.

This was the strongest pushback effort I’ve seen in my time at Apple. It was also doomed because Tim Cook saw the money Facebook, Google, and others were making from ads for apps and decided that he wants a portion of that.

To me ads in iOS are particularly offensive because I took pride in making products that served the customer. Ads turn “customers” into “users” to be monetized for the real customers, the ad buyers. They fundamentally compromise the integrity of the product.

James Thomson:

I’ve never really liked App Store search ads, because it always felt like paying protection money to Apple on top of the regular commission, rather than an organic way to boost discovery of your app. Now with dubious unrelated ads on your app page itself, it feels much worse.

I wouldn’t normally invoke “this wouldn’t happen if Steve was still in charge”, but I genuinely think this push for Services revenue above customer experience wouldn’t have. It feels cheap.

Glenda Adams:

I don’t know how to explain it’s but the App Store is both the most Apple thing and the least Apple thing at the same time.

Wesley Miller:

This crap has been a problem for nearly a decade. Why do the ads bother you? The “games” should have bothered you years ago.

Jeff Johnson:

Once again, it appears that nobody considers the Mac App Store worth selling ads on.

Joe Rossignol (tweet):

In a statement shared with MacRumors today, Apple said it has paused gambling ads in App Store app pages[…]

Basic Apple Guy:

I hate the ads (always will), but to Apple’s credit there’s been a significant change in the recommendations.

Florian Mueller:

What is highly controversial and has also drawn regulatory attention in various jurisdictions, however, is when those loot boxes become like an in-game lottery: gamers don’t know what’s in those boxes and are asked to pay to open them. Games raise hopes that super valuable items are to be found, but often you just get a consolation prize. What’s a related problem is when games have rigged wheels of fortune where it looks like each item has an equal chance of being drawn, but one just has to play the game for some time to realize that the most valuable items are hard to come by. Some games charge for using such a wheel of fortune, and may even charge an exponentially increasing amount for each turn.

While Apple says the gambling (casino app) problem has been addressed, I assume the in-game equivalent of a casino called loot boxes, and related issues such as rigged wheels of fortune, are issues that persist. That’s because you can’t ban those based on categories: the category is games (or a game genre). Apple’s app review theoretically could identify such issues, but then they’d have to play certain games for hundreds of hours, and they only have a few minutes of manual review time per app submission--with the focus being on the enforcement of their rules, above all: the app tax.


Update (2022-11-01): Nick Heer:

Still very psychic-friendly here[…]

App Store Ads in Today and App Pages


Apple Search Ads makes it easy to promote your app on the App Store. And now with new Today tab and product page ad placements, you can drive discovery of your app in more moments across the App Store — when customers first arrive, search for something specific, and browse apps to download.

Joe Rossignol:

This marks the first time that developers will be able to run ads in the Today tab, which until now has only displayed content handpicked from the App Store’s editorial staff, without any paid placement. And with the “You Might Also Like” section, developers will now be able to promote their apps on other apps’ pages.


App Store ads were previously limited to search results based on keywords and the “Suggested” section of the Search tab. With ads in the Today tab and the “You Might Also Like” section, the App Store will now offer four advertising options in total.

Joe Rossignol:

I don’t like Apple expanding ads on the iPhone. In my view, one of the benefits of the expensive Apple ecosystem is supposed to be a premium experience where the customer is not the product.

Florian Mueller:

The only thing I wish to clarify for accuracy’s sake is that app developers can’t even buy ads on their own app pages for defensive purposes the way many brands do on Google. That doesn’t make it any better, but it is something I wanted to explain.


In the anti-steering context (the injunction Epic Games won against Apple last year was an anti-anti-steering injunction), Apple always suggests that if app developers could point users to alternative payment options, it would be as unacceptable as if competing resellers could promote their stores in an official Apple Store and steer customers away. But that is just what Apple’s ads on app pages are all about, except that Apple makes money that way. Those app pages should be controlled by app makers--not that they could do anything they want on that page, but at least that no one else can do anything there--without their consent--that harms them.

Turner Novak (via Hacker News):

Apple executed its privacy marketing campaign beautifully. In the name of consumer privacy, it was able to box out competitors from using its first party device data, giving itself exclusive access to better target ads (Facebook, etc can still do this, its just harder). […] Apple is setting the stage to build all the same products it kneecapped: marketing tools for the long-tail of SMBs.


Hopefully I’ve made it clear that Apple has a LOT of unmonetized digital real estate. It needs to be careful as it chooses where to monetize with ads (personally I don’t get excited about ads on my lock screen), but operating system-level ads have always been in the cards for iOS. A patent filed in 2009 hints at premium “lock screen”-like and contextual “your printer ink is low, refill it here” ads.


Archiving a new build for the App Store now gives you this?!

Dave B:

With this Services push, Apple has lost its North Star.

It’s not just the overt ads, but also the entire way apps are designed, where Apple brands ads as “curation” to fool users into thinking they’re not ads (see the Music, TV, & Podcasts apps).

James Thomson:

It’s hard to see this drop in services growth, and not imagine that’s what’s been driving the recent increases in advertising.


Update (2022-11-30): Michael Gartenberg (via Hacker News):

The App store is, sadly, no longer the jewel of Apple’s ecosystem. These days, it seems to be more about maximizing Apple’s revenue than serving customers or helping developers flourish.

Sami Fathi (tweet):

A new report has revealed internal disagreement within Apple, causing some employees who work on the company's ads business to raise concerns that showing more ads to iPhone users ruins the premium experience that's been long offered to its customers, The Information reports.

See also: Reddit (via Dave).

Wired Finds App Review Unchanged

Shubham Agarwal (Hacker News):

It took a month of frustrating discussion with Apple’s App Store reviewers and 15 revisions to his code—made more or less at random—before his update was mysteriously approved.

Nelson never learned exactly why his app was first rejected or later accepted. An appeal mechanism Apple offers to challenge a rejection didn’t help.


More than a dozen app developers who spoke with WIRED say the app review process has not improved despite recent scrutiny on Apple’s control of the App Store. In 2020 the company began allowing developers to appeal not only an app’s rejection, which can lead to a call with an app reviewer, but to challenge the App Store guideline behind a decision.

The article is ostensibly following up on the change to allow challenging the guidelines—vs. appealing a rejection—but it doesn’t seem to mention anyone who did that. Nor have I heard of any successes in that regard.

But developers commonly describe the process of convincing Apple’s reviewers to green-light their submissions as “nightmarish.” They see the appeal process as more of an attempt to deflect criticism than to substantially improve app reviewing, which remains slow and arbitrary. Former Apple employees told WIRED that app reviewers often have only minutes to review each app and work under a system that permits wide variation in standards.


Adam Dema, an Apple spokesperson, denied the inconsistency developers report seeing in app reviews. “They are based purely in accordance with the App Store Review Guidelines, not subjectivity,” he said.

There’s obviously a lot of inconsistency. And the process can’t be anything but subjective because the guidelines are so vague.


A former senior App Store operations lead, who requested anonymity fearing repercussions from Apple, says the guidelines are designed to work on precedent, similar to some aspects of law. New reviewers generally get about two months to become familiar with a database of previous app rejections and approvals chosen to set precedents for each guideline.

Unlike law, you don’t get direct access to this precedent as an App Store developer. Nor is it easy to actually invoke it when you are aware it exists. Calling out a reviewer when they fail to interpret a vague guideline in line with what Apple actually wants it to mean (which you have to do the hard work of understanding) is incredibly tedious and not guaranteed to show results. And if you don’t actually understand how the rules work, you’re basically stuck :(

Philip Young:

Confident it’s the right reason to move Session out from App Store.

My last 2 updates (important bug fix, no new functionality) on Mac had been on review for 1 weeks each. Still hasn’t approved yet.

John Koetsier:

“If you’re developing for the Mac this might be shocking to you: The Mac App Store sees just 15 new apps every month on average,” says Ariel Michaeli, CEO of AppFigures. “That’s what the App Store, which sees about 1,000 new apps every day, adds in 20 minutes.”


Update (2022-12-01): Luc Vandal:

On top of it all, this build includes a fix for a crash and Apple chose this build to start asking questions and rejecting the app on some stupid guideline that is applied differently by each reviewer.

Luc Vandal:

I’ll never get this build approved! Now they’re complaining that the Lifetime subscription hasn’t been approved, which it was last May. We even have users on that plan! Can’t make that 💩 up! 🤦‍♂️