Developer Appeal to Steve Jobs Results in App Approval

| News

Pointy Heads SoftwareAfter hiving his company's iPhone app rejected by Apple, Pointy Heads Software developer Brian Meehan made a personal appeal to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, or at least his e-mail in-box, a move that he said resulted in a reversal.

The app, Knocking Live Video, allows users to share video from their iPhone directly to another iPhone across 3G or WiFi. Because the app is using a private API Apple reserves for its own internal use, the software works with either an iPhone 3G or 3GS, because its capturing the iPhone's screen, and not simply accessing the iPhone 3GS's video camera.

It was using that API, however, that got the video rejected by Apple in the first place, according to ArsTechnica. Said API has been used in other apps that have been approved, but recent efforts by Apple to use automatic scans to look for forbidden code has tripped up Pointy Heads and other developers in recent months.

Mr. Meehan of Pointy Heads thought his company's app was worth a private appeal to Apple due to its novel approach, which is to allow users to see video from their friends immediately with no waiting, no uploads, and no encoding delays.

Mr. Meehan told ArsTechnica that, "We are focused on phone-to-phone, not uploading to the Web. Who really cares about fleeting moments other than friends and family seeing it as it happens? With Knocking people share what they are doing right now. Our testers have referred to knocking as a 'visual tweet'."

Accordingly, he wrote what he felt was an impassioned appeal making the case of what this new use might mean to Mr. Jobs, asking him to review his app for reconsideration. That resulted in an unnamed Apple executive contacting Mr. Meehan, and three hours after that call, the company's app was live.

As of this writing, the software requires sharers to both have the app installed on their iPhone (iPod touch users can receive video, too), and it doesn't transmit sound. It also doesn't allow for recording the video images, which means they truly are transitory.

ArsTechnica pointed out that this is the first app to be approved despite using a private API, and that it's also the first app to allow live video streaming. It's also another specific step towards meeting developers' complaints about the App Store approval process.

"Apple told me they are listening, and truly care about their developers and getting it right," Meehan said. "And I have to say I agree, as they reached back and it was a very positive experience."

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7 Comments Leave Your Own

ilikeimac

Third paragraph: “[the private] API has been used in other apps that have been approved”

Eighth (second to last) paragraph: “this is the first app to be approved despite using a private API.”

Which is it? Perhaps it’s the first app* that Apple has approved despite realizing that it used private APIs?

*Other than their own apps, and possibly Google Earth, which I believe I once heard was doing things that weren’t allowed in most apps.

ilikeimac

The Ars Technica article makes it pretty clear: “the first approval for an app with known use of private APIs.” Other approved apps have used it, but apparently only because of an oversight on Apple’s part.

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for the note, ilikeimac. I added “knowingly” to the second sentence you quoted to make it more clear.

ilikeimac

Aha, it was the Google search app, not Google Earth, that I heard used private APIs. http://daringfireball.net/2008/11/google_mobile_uses_private_iphone_apis

Peter

It’s also another specific step towards meeting developers’ complaints about the App Store approval process.

I don’t see where this theory comes in.  Should all developers using private APIs appeal to the CEO of the company?

Salvador

This is not the first app approved using private API. Before OS3.0 there was no way to take a photo without the documented SDK with the standard iPhone camera buttons. All applications created to manage the camera, without the standard iPhone interface, were using private API or picking the camera layer from the UI controls tree and Apple was aware about it. I was one (from many developers) using that approach with my “RealCam SP” application. Apple approved it in February. Then, one day after few approved updates, a critical fix for a memory issue, was rejected due to the use of private API. “RealCam SP” was live on the App Store for 3 month with the issue without getting updates. At the same time, Apple approved other updates for applications using the same approach. The best example of inconsistency on approval process, is “QuadCam” approved and featured on “Staff Favourite” listing while “RealCam SP” and other applications got rejected many times. When Apple released OS3.0, I modified “RealCam SP” to fit Apple terms using only documented API. Since them, the application is selling well on App Store and getting updates with new features at least once a month.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

This article could have been called “Mao lets couple have second baby”. Subtitle, “first was killed in tragic reeducation accident”.

I wonder if we’re headed into a phase where developers try to get their app rejected first and then approved on appeal so they can attract attention. Like holding a sit in to raise awareness of a discount car wash. All this drama, brought to you by the fact that Meehan had to ask permission to ship his software.

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