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Apple removes Wi-Fi scanners, 'minimum functionality' iPhone apps

post #1 of 242
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Apple this week continued its crackdown against what it feels are substandard applications in its App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, this time removing Wi-Fi scanners and software it said has "minimum user functionality."

According to the development studio Three Jacks Software, Apple removed its application, called "WiFi-Where," due to its alleged use of unpublished APIs within the iPhone OS software development kit. The developer noted that other applications, including WifiTrak, WiFiFoFum, yFy Network Finder, WiFi Get, eWifi, and WiFi Analyzer were also removed.

"I find it quite ironic that Apple removes these very handy, very useful apps from the app store when there are so many useless gimick apps that just pollute the App Store pages," the developer wrote.

Three Jacks Software said it will re-release its application for jailbroken iPhones via the Cydia installer. Jailbreaking is a practice that circumvents the iPhone OS and allows users to run unauthorized code on their iPhone or iPod touch.

In addition, earlier this week, CrunchGear reported on a developer that created an application that simply made the iPhone quack like a duck. The software was denied from the App Store by Apple due to the fact that it "contains minimal user functionality."

Apple of late has made an attempt to clean up the App Store, beginning last month with a change in policy on "overtly sexual content." More than 5,000 applications were removed and the widespread banishment even mistakenly removed at least one application that sold swimwear, though Apple later corrected the error.

Not long after the App Store opened in 2008, a number of crude burping and farting applications were released and found moderate success, but also resulted in criticism of the level of quality of the software available in the App Store.
post #2 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple this week has continued its crackdown against what it feels are substandard applications in its App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, this time removing Wi-Fi scanners and software it said has "minimum user functionality."

I'm guessing this doesn't bode well for "Don't Kill the Puppy", a free app that my kid loves.

Oh, well.
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Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
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post #3 of 242
I use WiFiFiFum daily... it's pretty good to monitoring which channels are sturated etc and where WiFi hotspots are so you can move closer if necessary.

What a strange move...

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post #4 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple this week has continued its crackdown against what it feels are substandard applications in its App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, this time removing Wi-Fi scanners and software it said has "minimum user functionality."

Apple of late has made an attempt to clean up the App Store, beginning last month.

While I do see a WiFi Scanner useful, let's be honest, the App Store is littered with crap apps that make it difficult to find the really well written, useful, and innovative ones.

The App Store starts sliding downhill in it's usefulness when iPhone owners are overwhelmed with silly apps. Of course, some nut job in CA will decide this infringes on his/her free speech and sue Apple, but that's another post.
post #5 of 242
i hope not ewifi
i use that all the time when i'm out, gives mac address, very helpful
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post #6 of 242
My 2 year old little girl loves an app that makes the phone Quack like a duck when you shake it.

Apple is definitely crossing the line into full-blown censorship. I've been an Apple consumer for quite a long time but this is really starting to give me the creeps.
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post #7 of 242
I've used WifiTrak since day one with my iPod touch on almost a daily basis as I move around the town.
Why kill such useful apps? Apple I am -issed!
post #8 of 242
the app store should just use ESRB ratings and allow anything and everything, quack, fart, crap, whatever.

if you can't find what you're looking for in all the crap, you deserve to be spending 90 bucks on 10,000 mob points.
post #9 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post

While I do see a WiFi Scanner useful, Let's be honest, the App Store is littered with crap apps that make it difficult to find the really well written, useful, and innovative ones.

A fact, that does not justify this move by Apple, whatsoever.
post #10 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoolook View Post

What a strange move...

Apple hates people accessing private APIs or underlying hardware. It prevents them from changing the implementation.

A likely reason may be that iPhone 4.0 changes the private API that the wifi apps are using. Rather than having them all break when 4.0 comes out, making the release look bad, Apple bans them now over the access violation.

Since there is clearly a need and desire for access to the private API, Apple will probably clean it up and add it to the public APIs. Then the apps will return.
post #11 of 242
...does that mean all the fart apps [and similar] gone now too?
post #12 of 242
I'm really confused by this...can WiFi scanners be used to hack or be harmful in some way? What is the reason Apple is giving? Could it be to force people to be more dependent on 3G/At&T??
post #13 of 242
Once censorship begins, it never knows where to stop. Apple should RATE apps, not remove them.
post #14 of 242
..."but its not hard to see that this trend."
"But the software also brought resulted in criticism of the level of quality of the software..."

As a long time devotee to this site, it disturbs me to see this growing trend here at AppleInsider. ...so much so that I find it difficult to remain silent on this any longer. I understand no one is fond of "Grammar Policing" but doesn't anyone proof read anymore?!?!
Come on AppleInsider, your reputation far exceeds this level of publishing!
post #15 of 242
Can't most of these one-function wonders be written as web apps? (Especially the ones that simply look up some specific piece of information and present it to the user.) If so, there's nothing stopping developers from doing so and selling them directly, outside the App Store.
post #16 of 242
I find this curious. The sex apps, I'm not completely happy about, but I can understand.

The lawsuit, again not real happy about, but I can understand that one too. Though, getting the import of these devices blocked seems like a bad PR move on their part.

This shenanigans about Wi-Fi scanner apps though? This one really has me confused. Most of these are legitimately good apps that provide some useful functionality for techs and other power users. Why remove these applications?

I was considering buying an iPad later this month, but now I find myself rethinking that decision. If this is what I have to look forward to, I think I'll pass. I'm missing my iPhone, but with the stream of bad moves lately, I think I'm going to stick with Android.
post #17 of 242
I don't mind the elimination of trivial apps, but I think that better organization of the AppStore would be a better solution. Simply creating a "Trivial" category would help with this. Of course, the Wifi scanners are not being denied for being trivial. They are using undocumented APIs. Those developers should put a request in for Apple to open those APIs. Apple frequently does this for OS X developers, I don't see why they wouldn't do it for iPhone developers.
post #18 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbofus View Post

...does that mean all the fart apps [and similar] gone now too?

Luke: "Are you all right? What's wrong?"

Obi-Wan: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force... as if millions of (ifart apps) suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. You'd better get on with your exercises."

What does it sound like when millions of iFart apps cry out? Can't imagine it's pretty.
post #19 of 242
Out of curiosity, (since I don't have any apps that have been removed) does Apple pull (pun intended) an Amazon, and remove the App from your device too, or do they let it sit there?

I'm never a fan of a company censoring like this. Being female, I'd never download a porn app as I find them degrading and I can see that any day in the mirror, but at least let that morality call be done by downloader (and please, include a parental lockout feature so parents can censor their children instead of a company!) As for "Limited Use Apps" again, let someone else make that call, as each person will find different uses in different apps. Perhaps Apple should redesign the App Store to make things easier to find instead of removing "crap apps" just to keep it "clean".
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post #20 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbofus View Post

...does that mean all the fart apps [and similar] gone now too?

One word... PLEASE!
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post #21 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorBenway View Post

What does it sound like when millions of iFart apps cry out? Can't imagine it's pretty.

I'd imagine it'd probably sound like a magnitude 8.8 earthquake... wait... something's amiss here.
post #22 of 242
You know, it's fine and all that Apple wants to clean things up, but the problem is that each developer has paid $100 a year to test and make iPhone software, even the free stuff. I think it's time for Apple to offer (not the newest sdk and advanced access) a free sdk and ability to make apps and personally distribute them to friends. Then people wouldn't feel they need to jailbreak and then people wouldn't put their iPhones in more danger.
post #23 of 242
Many of you are missing the point, possibly because the story conflates two issues. It's not what the Wifi Scanners do that is the issue, it's how they are doing it. Apple has some API's that are private and changeable without notice. So if developers use them, their apps could break at any update. But if they do, Apple looks bad--all a user see's is the crash.

My guess is that either the iPad or the 4G changes some private APIs, and Apple is getting rid of the crashes users might see. If you are a developer, and you use private API's you have no right to complain about anything. Apple flat out tells you not to use them.

The useless App issue is of more concern, but so far all we have is one report--and no indication of the quality of that App. Do you know that to get a product put on Walmart's shelves, you have to pay Walmart? Apple having some control over whats on it's store is hardly the death of freedom. And letting developers know they should up their game instead of putting up quick, useless apps might be a good thing.

But being a bit cleared in communication would certainly be appreciated.
post #24 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider5634 View Post

I find this curious. The sex apps, I'm not completely happy about, but I can understand.

The lawsuit, again not real happy about, but I can understand that one too. Though, getting the import of these devices blocked seems like a bad PR move on their part.

This shenanigans about Wi-Fi scanner apps though? This one really has me confused. Most of these are legitimately good apps that provide some useful functionality for techs and other power users. Why remove these applications?

I was considering buying an iPad later this month, but now I find myself rethinking that decision. If this is what I have to look forward to, I think I'll pass. I'm missing my iPhone, but with the stream of bad moves lately, I think I'm going to stick with Android.

The Wi-Fi scanners are using undocumented APIs. The developers should put in a request to open up any API that they need. Apple has been making some exceptions to the undocumented API rule too. It is up to the developers to ask for these exceptions though.

I think the article has it wrong. Denying undocumented APIs is much different then denying trivial apps. The only example I see of a trivial app is "Quacking like a duck." Seriously, do you want an iPhone app for every possible sound byte?

I don't think you should give up an iPhone so quickly. Apple always does the right thing in the end. Even with Apple's increased transparency lately, they still don't really tell us what they are up to. If anything, it makes it worse sometimes because we only get half an answer from Apple.

I'm not sure what Lawsuit you are referring to. If it is the recent HTC lawsuit, i'm not sure if I agree with it easier. I'd prefer Apple didn't cast the first stone in these IP lawsuits. Personally though, if a company has a history of bogus I.P. lawsuits (even not against Apple), I don't mind if Apple sues them like crazy. Those companies deserve to be put in their place. I'm not sure what the case is here though.
post #25 of 242
This is pushing it. Telling us what we want is too much.
post #26 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

I don't mind the elimination of trivial apps, but I think that better organization of the AppStore would be a better solution. Simply creating a "Trivial" category would help with this. Of course, the Wifi scanners are not being denied for being trivial.

Actually, I would classify them as trivial too. At least with my iPod Touch I can more or less do the same thing with the Wifi system preference or setting. I've often gone into the Wifi system preference window and walked around a mall to see what wifi connections are out there. Why would I need an app to do it - does the app provide more information or something?

I say it's good that they're finally removing some of the junk.
post #27 of 242
I think Apple really just needs to let people sideload apps. That way if people want these silly apps, or porn or whatever they can get it. It is their device, they should be able to install what they want (just sandbox it).

As for the App Store, I think it is cluttered, annoying, and sometimes useless. Apple's biggest mistake is not editing the top list. The soft porn apps shouldn't be their, not should a fart or other useless app. I'm not against Apple doing creative editing, provided they show the top 10 useful apps (and don't cherry pick them).

I think Apple just wanted the big number 100,000 and didn't think straight. I can't even think of 100 Apps I want for my computer, let alone a small phone. As for games, Xbox 360 has a total of 736 games. Something is seriously wrong with 150,000+ Apps on the iTunes App store.

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post #28 of 242
I am not an iPhone user but am contemplating switching the whole family. My sense is that this is a very slippery slope for Apple. What is "minimum user functionality?" It leaves to much room for abuse by Apple, maybe not under the current leadership, but what about the next? Are developers going to spend perishable time trying to second guess Apple? This has all the tendencies to lead us where Microsoft ( spit..spit ) ruled and still rules the computer OS game.

Let the users be free to make the choices and Apple should instead remove apps that show no sales or downward trend in sales to weed out the crap. Just one man's opinion.
post #29 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateKylie View Post

I think Apple really just needs to let people sideload apps. That way if people want these silly apps, or porn or whatever they can get it. It is their device, they should be able to install what they want (just sandbox it).

As for the App Store, I think it is cluttered, annoying, and sometimes useless. Apple's biggest mistake is not editing the top list. The soft porn apps shouldn't be their, not should a fart or other useless app. I'm not against Apple doing creative editing, provided they show the top 10 useful apps (and don't cherry pick them).

I think Apple just wanted the big number 100,000 and didn't think straight. I can't even think of 100 Apps I want for my computer, let alone a small phone. As for games, Xbox 360 has a total of 736 games. Something is seriously wrong with 150,000+ Apps on the iTunes App store.

Side loading on an iPod Touch would be feasible, but I don't see Apple doing it. They can't do it on an iPhone without violating contractual agreements with AT&T.
post #30 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

Once censorship begins, it never knows where to stop. Apple should RATE apps, not remove them.

How do you define censorship?

Certainly not as the Supreme Court or the founding fathers would.
post #31 of 242
Get rid of the garbage!!!
post #32 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Mac View Post

Let the users be free to make the choices and Apple should instead remove apps that show no sales or downward trend in sales to weed out the crap. Just one man's opinion.

But that is not what Apple is all about nor do we want it to be. We like being told how we should think. That's why Steve was sent here.
post #33 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilogic View Post

Get rid of the garbage!!!

tekfart is gone- isn't he?
post #34 of 242
1984...

BIG BROTHER has spoken!
post #35 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Mac View Post

I am not an iPhone user but am contemplating switching the whole family. My sense is that this is a very slippery slope for Apple. What is "minimum user functionality?" It leaves to much room for abuse by Apple, maybe not under the current leadership, but what about the next? Are developers going to spend perishable time trying to second guess Apple? This has all the tendencies to lead us where Microsoft ( spit..spit ) ruled and still rules the computer OS game.

Let the users be free to make the choices and Apple should instead remove apps that show no sales or downward trend in sales to weed out the crap. Just one man's opinion.

The AppStore is obviously intended to create a free market. Sure Apple has some veto power, but they are not engaging in tactics that eliminate small and upstart developers. There is a reason not not many independent developers write for a PS3 or Nintendo. The barrier to entry is too high. There is always the risk that a company will create an unhealthy ecosystem, but sometimes you just need to have faith. Open source solutions have as of yet not been very successful. Personally, I'd rather have a company like Apple run the AppStore. They rarely compromise or play favorites with big business. Not that big business is bad, they just get away with things they shouldn't sometimes. In Sony's or Microsoft's case, playing favorites with game publishers eliminates the small guys.

Seriously, is your life any worse for not having a "Quack like a duck" application.
post #36 of 242
And the madness continues. What next Apple? Come on, do your worst. Maybe you could wall Safari in to only sites which say nice things about Steve Jobs?
post #37 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

How do you define censorship?

Certainly not as the Supreme Court or the founding fathers would.

Arbitrarily. Apple cannot "censor" anything, since they have no authority to censor.
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post #38 of 242
Why have many people here, including the app developer in question, missed this vital piece of the puzzle?:

Quote:
According to the development studio Three Jacks Software, Apple removed its application, called "WiFi-Where," due to its alleged use of unpublished APIs within the iPhone OS software development kit.

I don't have access to the developer NDA but doesn't it explicitly state they are NOT to use unpublished APIs?

The developers only have themselves to blame really.
post #39 of 242
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple this week has continued its crackdown against what it feels are substandard applications in its App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, this time removing Wi-Fi scanners and software it said has "minimum user functionality."

Can someone tell me what the Apple App Store approval process is for?

Anyway...

If Apple is gonna pay people that pass apps that Apple turns around and says has "minimum user functionality", then throw some of that money to me Apple cuz it seems like you like giving it away!

Finally, Apple, problem solved, just create a "minimum user functionality" genre and place all those apps you feel meet that compliance. Then put them on a separate server in that NC facility you're building and then remove them from iTunes EXCEPT for a link to direct possible customers to that one server containing those apps. Call it the "Useless App Store". Betcha that server gets a lot of hits!

Of course I can kinda understand Apple looking at 150,000 plus apps in their store and more in the hopper awaiting approval and more being created and saying how many are apps that can be looked at as "Keynote" or "Final Cut Pro" when it comes to useful productivity, to how many apps that can be looked at as "PhotoBooth" when it comes to fun cool apps but not as productive, to how many apps that can be looked at as "Screen Saver" when it comes to barely serving a purpose. \

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post #40 of 242
I do not understand why people are upset. You (and I also) bought the phone knowing that it was a closed system, and that Apple maintained the right to absolutely control the User Experience. This is why there is no Flash on the devices.

There is no free speech issue here, there is no censorship. You do not have the "right" to put on any application you may wish, nor do developers have the "right" to post apps in the store.

This is Apple's business, and just like any other business, they have the right to restrict who does what, not unlike the standard "no shirt, no shoes, no service" signs at a restaurant.

Apple's attitude is, and always has been, if you do not like the situation, you can buy something else, but they are not going to budge.
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