‘System and Security Info’s’ App Store Rejection is No Surprise

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System and Security Info from Stefan Esser launched on the iPhone only a few days ago and has already been booted off the App Store. The app checked which processes were running on users' iPhones, then reported back with details about which apps were running, and whether or not any could be unwanted or malware. The internet quickly jumped to the conclusion that Apple was blocking apps that could detect device-level spying, but the reality is far less insidious: System and Security info violated Apple's developer guidelines and was rejected.

Apple isn't anti-spy detection, it's anti-developer guideline violationApple isn't anti-spy detection, it's anti-developer guideline violation

Mr. Esser said his app was rejected for providing "potentially inaccurate and diagnostic functionality," which sounds rather ominous. He said on Twitter this was Apple's way of shielding users from knowing iOS could potentially have security holes.

He went on to say his app was "a system info tool showing a process list and jailbreak status/like other apps," which clears up a lot. Apple removed the ability for apps to show a list of running processes in iOS 9. Any app that shows an active processes list is either running on an older version of iOS, or the developer worked around iOS 9's built-in restrictions.

Mr. Esser went on to say, "The fact our app was pulled is selective punishment." What he really experienced, however, was the same thing so many developers before him encountered: Apple let an app onto the App Store only later to pull it after realizing it violated developer guidelines. The real problem isn't selective punishment; it's an inconsistent and confusing app screening process.

The Mac Observer checked several titles on the App Store claiming to offer a running processes list, and they all failed to do so on iOS 9. In some cases, the apps listed 0 processes, in other cases the apps said the list wasn't available in iOS 9.

Losing the running processes list was unfortunate because it came in handy when troubleshooting odd iOS issues and checking to make sure there weren't any unexpected apps running—just as Mr. Esser's now MIA System and Security Info app did. The real question is whether or not the active processes list is something users should be able to see—and for now it seems Apple's answer to that is a resounding "no."

[Thanks to The Next Web for the heads up]

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I do’t get Apple’s hangup with the process list. I guess that it might be that some developers would look to see what else is running and do “not-so-good stuff” or something. But it makes some things really hard.

Here’s an example - one that I have right now. I use an iPhone 5s to record lectures (using “Voice Memos”). Occasionally, something keeps running after I finish and this drains the battery (90% to 10% in a couple of hours). Usually this ceases if I quit (swipe upwards) on Voice Memos app, but not always. I’ve had at least one instance where it still kept running and only a restart would kill it. But I have no way to find out what the offending daemon (what I suspect) is.

So, Apple, if you aren’t going to allow developers to create an app that shows me the process list, THEN MAKE ONE YOURSELVES !!! Put it in “Settings” -> “Advanced” if you like. But give us a way to help us track down the problems in your software.


@vpndev There’s already info in the Settings > Battery screen that shows what apps have used how much power (last 7 days or last 24 hours). Does this not give enough info to solve your problem?


If there’s an open-source code example for listing processes, then anyone with a developer account could compile it themselves. Or anyone with a friend who has a developer account.


@webjpgrm: in this case, no. It’s a rogue daemon, I think. And the battery consumption isn’t granular enough. It does certainly point to Voice Memos (which I had already figured, as there’s almost nothing else running on the phone as it’s not my everyday phone-phone).

As for a dev tool - yes that’s a possibility. In the past you had to be a registered developer to be able to build an app to run on a phone (you needed a dev signing cert). I think that it’s now possible to do that for your own phone, but I’m not sure.

peter tran

thanks you so much this news

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