Apple’s App Store and installing what you like on an iPhone

In the world of advanced mobile phones, iPhone has a lot of interesting offerings and apps, while more and more Android-based phones are coming into the market.

Development target #1

I believe that, beyond a nice, consistent and well-designed interface and impressive hardware, one of the major strengths of the iPhone is that it has become the number one platform choice for developers for mobile phones. Virtually any developer or company interested in developing something for a mobile phone will do it for the iPhone first.

Extending – the way to go

This is pretty much the same strength as Firefox has. With the abundance of add-ons on offer for it, it’s hard to compete. But what if something happened that made, let’s say, it easier or better to develop an extension for Google Chrome? Something that made people look somewhere else than the iPhone?

Slowly moving towards a dangerous line

To me, it seems like Apple are, or always have been, heading in that direction with their App Store and its requirements to get approved to be on that vital platform. According to my personal values, anyone should be possible to install whatever they want on their computer, mobile phone etc. And while App Store is a financial success, both for Apple and developers, and naturally it’s good and easy for end users to have one place to look to for applications, they don’t allow any app there.

The Apple approval process

The problem is the approval process. Some apps seem to almost go straight through, some takes quite a long time, and some are just rejected. And according to the well of feedback on the Internet, a lot of that rejection seem to be based on weak or irrelevant arguments. Or it might just be that they’re competing with already existing, or soon-to-come, Apple applications.

That’s where I think they go wrong. As opposed to Mac OS X, where Apple has a good base selection of software but I can choose to install whatever I want, the iPhone locks you in. And given the price you pay for it, that’s not how you want to feel.

Also, looking at high number of photo apps that stopped working with the release of OS 3.0, listed in Broken iPhone photo apps, it really makes me start to wonder. For example, I, for one, was a very happy user of the Darkroom Premium app (App Store link), which offered a great way to make sure the phone was being held stable enough for a non-blurry result.

However, as outlined in Darkroom and OS 3.0 Compatibility Issue Update, they have repeatedly been rejected by Apple for doing something which they have always done. The claim is that they are “using an undocumented API”. Problem is, a number of apps have been blocked for this with the 3.0 release, but as always, there are some apps who do the same thing, but have been approved…

And, if they are using an undocumented API which evidently works and offers great features to the phone owners, just bloody document it then!

My suggestion

Keep the App Store, the reviews of applications and everything that goes with. Offer a safe haven, if you so will, for users so they can only install what Apple approves of. But, for those who want to, give users the option to install whatever software they want, from whatever source they want.

Seeing the popularity of jailbreaking iPhones, and trust me, that interest will not decline, just give people what they ask for – the freedom to install anything to their liking. Because in the long run, if you don’t, I think someone else will take that spot.

What do you think?

Do you believe in the free choice of the end user, or that software dictatorship is the only way for Apple (and any other company)?

Posted in Apple/Mac,Developing,iPhone,Technology |

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