Apple's App Store approval process gets partially automated

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple has added a new automated layer to its approval process for App Store software, but according to one developer, it's not perfect.



Apple recently began using computers to automatically scan for the use of private application programming interfaces. The new automated scan does not change any of the rules Apple has had in place for the App Store: Private APIs have always been banned from use in iPhone software. But according to Gizmodo, the rule was not entirely enforced, because it can be difficult to determine when an API falls within the rules and when it does not.



iPhone developers are provided with a number of public APIs that are within the terms of the App Store developer agreement. But there are other, private APIs that are considered off-limits.



"Private APIs are calls and features that only Apple uses, and which they don't really tell developers about," John Herrman explained. "There could be a few reasons for this: either they specifically don't want developers to use them, for security or consistency reasons, or they're not finished and subject to change, which means that for devs to use them would be risky -- their apps could just break with the next system update, since these private APIs are, in effect, volatile."



The new "static analysis tools" aim to catch those who might have snuck by the approval process before, with software that bends or breaks the rules established by Apple. In theory, it shouldn't change the system for law-abiding developers, but will provide a more thorough analysis of software before it is OK'd for distribution on the App Store.



But this week, Chris Parrish with development company RogueSheep Incorporated said that their new application, Postage, was rejected by the system because of a false positive. The specifics of the rejection are technical, but in short, RogueSheep used the name of a private API method for its own category method name within the software, which caused the rejection. The developer addressed the issue, even though Parrish claims they did not actually utilize a private API.



Parrish said he would like for Apple to provide him and other developers with a copy of the analysis tool to test their own builds before they are formally submitted. He said his team had to wait for the 14-day review process to complete before they found out they had failed the analysis.



"Hopefully this and other possible false positive problems with the new code analysis portion of App Store submissions will be addressed soon," he said.







Earlier this month, Apple added a feature to its Development Center Web site that allows developers to view the approval status of submitted applications. It allows developers to see where in the process their submission is located, with categories including "in review," "ready for sale," and "rejected."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 67
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Why aren't these apps open like the internet itself is? Who's deciding this censorship and I'm not talking the data hogging ones? If you clog your phone up because it's a guzzler then it's your responsibility to delete the app but to censor them for other reasons is just so wrong.
  • Reply 2 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Why aren't these apps open like the internet itself is? Who's deciding this censorship and I'm not talking the data hogging ones? If you clog your phone up because it's a guzzler then it's your responsibility to delete the app but to censor them for other reasons is just so wrong.





    So people don't put malicious code into them. You can download any app from the store and feel safe about it, if it was open to all you can guarantee there would be tons of people tiring to steal info from phones.
  • Reply 3 of 67
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post


    So people don't put malicious code into them. You can download any app from the store and feel safe about it, if it was open to all you can guarantee there would be tons of people tiring to steal info from phones.



    Ok but then why the obvious censorship for politically and sexually "incorrect" apps?
  • Reply 4 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Ok but then why the obvious censorship for politically and sexually "incorrect" apps?



    I believe that is Apple wanting to be neutral political and considered family friendly.

    Agree with that or not Apple is free to do so as that it is their store to sell from.



    No different then if you owned a shop and didn't want to sell Porn Mags.





    However if the government stepped in a said you cant sell that in your shop if you wanted to or Apple same thing, then I would be 100% on your side.
  • Reply 5 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Ok but then why the obvious censorship for politically and sexually "incorrect" apps?



    I don't know if censorship is the right word to describe what Apple is doing.

    Censorship has the connotation of government action and related to public (government controlled things.)
  • Reply 6 of 67
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post


    I believe that is Apple wanting to be neutral political and considered family friendly.

    Agree with that or not Apple is free to do so as that it is their store to sell from.



    No different then if you owned a shop and didn't want to sell Porn Mags.





    However if the government stepped in a said you cant sell that in your shop if you wanted to or Apple same thing, then I would be 100% on your side.



    Understood. I still think there's fine line to decide what is acceptable or not and eventually there should be other options to buy apps elsewhere as the device is yours not Apple's. I'm not restricted to buy movies only from iTunes for my Mac- same thing. This is also the same problem with AppleTV except in that case the device itself sucks.
  • Reply 7 of 67
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post


    I don't know if censorship is the right word to describe what Apple is doing.

    Censorship has the connotation of government action and related to public (government controlled things.)



    No necessarily so. WalMArt censors lyrics on what can be sold on CDs in their stores- same thing. Apple is censoring content as well here- there can be no denying it.
  • Reply 8 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    No necessarily so. WalMArt censors lyrics on what can be sold on CDs in their stores- same thing. Apple is censoring content as well here- there can be no denying it.



    True, but unedited still exist and its one's choice to get the normal version some other place. As long as there is no government interference. itunes sell both, and on some songs I like the radio edit, I don't need to hear cussing all the time.



    Apple is choosing what content to have available.

    And again in a open market, if its not something your willing to live with don't buy the product. If say the somehow blocked the internet to not allow you on certain sites, I would not have a iphone, but not selling porn apps does not stop me from making choices.
  • Reply 9 of 67
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,611member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Ok but then why the obvious censorship for politically and sexually "incorrect" apps?



    Because there are millions of 'do-gooders' out there who would just love to collect their 15 minutes by pouncing on Apple's very prominent name. Heck, even Greenpeace couldn't help itself. Just think of all those guardians of morality waiting for their moment in the spotlight.
  • Reply 10 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Understood. I still think there's fine line to decide what is acceptable or not and eventually there should be other options to buy apps elsewhere as the device is yours not Apple's. I'm not restricted to buy movies only from iTunes for my Mac- same thing. This is also the same problem with AppleTV except in that case the device itself sucks.



    I know with all the digital rights rules that have been created in the last few years it is a nightmare. Its total restricting. I will concede that point, if people choose to install programs from a non apps store source they should be allowed too, especially after the 2 year period, since before then it kinda is joint ownership between the user and ATT.
  • Reply 11 of 67
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post


    True, but unedited still exist and its one's choice to get the normal version some other place. As long as there is no government interference. itunes sell both, and on some songs I like the radio edit, I don't need to hear cussing all the time.



    Apple is choosing what content to have available.

    And again in a open market, if its not something your willing to live with don't buy the product. If say the somehow blocked the internet to not allow you on certain sites, I would not have a iphone, but not selling porn apps does not stop me from making choices.



    Well you can't really go to porn sites cause they mostly utilize flash anyway- but that's another story.
  • Reply 12 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Well you can't really go to porn sites cause they mostly utilize flash anyway- but that's another story.



    Hey!!! Business opportunity for you!!!

    See Apple just kept the market open!
  • Reply 13 of 67
    My biggest hope is for them to allow iphone App development on windows. I would be on that quick!
  • Reply 14 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Why aren't these apps open like the internet itself is? Who's deciding this censorship and I'm not talking the data hogging ones? If you clog your phone up because it's a guzzler then it's your responsibility to delete the app but to censor them for other reasons is just so wrong.



    It's wrong because under the apple agreement we indicated that we would only use published API calls. This is in no way about censorship or data hogging, not sure where that came from. It's about Apple more efficiently and effectively enforcing the rules of the game.
  • Reply 15 of 67
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rbonner View Post


    It's wrong because under the apple agreement we indicated that we would only use published API calls. This is in no way about censorship or data hogging, not sure where that came from. It's about Apple more efficiently and effectively enforcing the rules of the game.



    Really? Then what is this? http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/artic...litical_caric/
  • Reply 16 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Understood. I still think there's fine line to decide what is acceptable or not and eventually there should be other options to buy apps elsewhere as the device is yours not Apple's.



    Stop right there. Is there a license/EULA attached to iPhone usage?
  • Reply 17 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Parrish said he would like for Apple to provide him and other developers with a copy of the analysis tool to test their own builds before they are formally submitted. He said his team had to wait for the 14-day review process to complete before they found out they had failed the analysis.



    Why aren't the developers testing their apps in the first place? Why make Apple do all the QA? It's incredibly short sighted of the developers to be complaining that Apple is taking too long to approve Apps. If the developers did more QA, or even outsourced their QA and testing, maybe the approval process at Apple wouldn't be so backed up?



    If Apple was certifying Apps rather than doing a deep QA/Testing dive the whole process would move much more quickly and the backlog would not exist.



    Everyone is trying to make a quick buck and avoid absorbing the cost and responsibility that comes with application development on something that is essentially an enterprise platform. Apple is trying to ensure quality on their platform and protect the user community. All the developers are doing is throwing a temper tantrum because they aren't making the $$$ they thought they would be making right NOW.



    If the developers really want the approval process to move along more quickly they are going to have to assume the responsibility and cost for testing their products. Until they stop trying to be cowboys and code wranglers and man up to the challenge of earning the cash they have already counted they will have to suffer the consequences of their, and every other shoddy half bit developers, poor appreciation for the application development lifecycle.
  • Reply 18 of 67
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I?m sure some apps will fall through the cracks as usual, but this is a very good thing. I?m noticing updates are less frequent than they used to be for many apps. Either it?s being held up and/or the developers are doing more between updates to avoid waiting for the approval to take place.



    I know the Facebook developer passed the reigns to another due to being annoyed with Apple but it seems others, like Gameloft, are unhappy with Android as a successful platform. Gamelift says it can?t make money from Android and that the iPhone development now accounts for 13% of their business. I suppose if people weren?t talking about Apple?s App Store then there would be a reason for Apple to worry. I don?t see them doing anything but trying to speed up the process, not necessarily make it better.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by korexz View Post


    Why aren't the developers testing their apps in the first place? Why make Apple do all the QA?



    Most are testing them. Usually they are not being approved for instability issues, not for the other things that make the blogosphere. I see nothing wrong with developers wanting to know what Apple is specifically looking for and for the use of this app to check it against their own. The only caveat is would having this app allow shady developers learn how to trick Apple?s automated procedure, thus making it pointless?





    PS: Korexz is the only post as of this writing that actually addressed the topic at hand. It was either AI?s Irritable Bowelboy or people replying to him. It really just ruins these threads. You simply can?t argue with someone who will say that Apple?s apps suck out of one corner of their mouth and then say Apple shouldn?t verify that apps work, have trojans, etc. out of the other side of their mouth.
  • Reply 19 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "Private APIs are calls and features that only Apple uses, and which they don't really tell developers about," John Herrman explained. "There could be a few reasons for this: either they specifically don't want developers to use them, for security or consistency reasons, or they're not finished and subject to change, which means that for devs to use them would be risky -- their apps could just break with the next system update, since these private APIs are, in effect, volatile."



    Don't forget it also gives Apple a competitive advantage with their own apps as they can essentially utilize functionality that everyone else cant. Bit like what Microsoft used to do with Windows. Not that they really need to as they just ban every app that could be a competitor.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post


    My biggest hope is for them to allow iphone App development on windows. I would be on that quick!



    Why don't you just install Mac on a virtual machine in windows or as a native install on a PC. Given the huge number of developers that have turned up for iPhone development, compared to the number of actual Mac developers, I can't believe that many went out and actually bought a Mac.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by korexz View Post


    Why aren't the developers testing their apps in the first place? Why make Apple do all the QA? It's incredibly short sighted of the developers to be complaining that Apple is taking too long to approve Apps. If the developers did more QA, or even outsourced their QA and testing, maybe the approval process at Apple wouldn't be so backed up?



    You do realize you just quoted someone saying they wanted a copy of the software Apple uses to scan the apps so they could test themselves. How else can they test that all the names they've used to name something in their program isn't the same as an unpublished api that they don't know about!
  • Reply 20 of 67
    I just thought about an issue: I've got MY iPod/iPhone, I've developed MY application with regards of all Apple's rules and restrictions and... I simply can't run MY OWN application on MY OWN iPod/iPhone.
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