Fraser Speirs, the developer behind the top-shelf iPhone Flickr interface “Exposure”, echoes the complaints we’ve heard from many developers about the iTunes App Store:
Apple requires that every single update to every app go through the same vetting process (although who knows exactly what this involves?). I submitted Exposure 1.0.1 to the App Store last Friday and, five days later, one version is “In Review”. The other is still, mysteriously, “waiting for upload”, even though I already did.
If Apple can’t guarantee a maximum 24 hour review process, they should drop it.
Walled gardens aren’t entirely without usefulness. (Yes, I said that.) There’s something to be said for being able to buy a bunch of software with a single account. But the approval process to push software to the App Store isn’t just slowing down updates for customers, it could also put developers and users at risk. As Speirs explains, if there were a serious security flaw in an iPhone application, an approval process of several days could be a catastrophe.
I really like the App Store, but Apple needs to invert the approval process. If a developer has shown that they’ve uploaded quality code in the past, they should be able to push updates with a minimum of fuss. If there’s a problem later — and it appears the only problems Apple is scanning for are SDK violations — then nuke the program and the developer account.
The DRM-ladened App Store is just one of five reasons the Free Software Foundation doesn’t want you to buy an iPhone. Three more points: iPhone uses and endorses DRM; the iPhone doesn’t play Ogg Vorbis (really?); the iPhone isn’t the only option. I have a few incidental quibbles with most of those but I get where they’re coming from.
One complaint, however, is just flat out wrong: “iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.”
First of all, the iPhone OS now prompts you every time it is about to query Core Location for your coordinates. (I actually wish it wouldn’t, as I think that hitting a button or opening an application built specifically around location services should be approval enough.) Secondly, iPhone applications don’t run in the background, making passive tracking only possible if there were an SDK-violating application available via the iTunes App Store — ironically the walled nature of the DRM-infested App Store makes this rogue tracking software claim even less possible.
As for the iPhone exposing your whereabouts? I kind of think most people knew that already, since that’s the whole point of GPS on a phone. And guess what? All cell phones now have GPS or a GPS-like tracking system inside as mandated by the federal government. Most don’t give you access to that data like the iPhone does.
I hate the vetting process of the App Store quite a bit, but don’t salt a perfectly reasonable argument with factually murky paranoia.