Apple yanks widget apps, likely to add feature to iPhone OS 4

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple has started contacting some iPhone developers to notify them that their widget apps are being delisted from the iTunes App Store, possibly making way for the company's own widget strategy.



Death to widgets



Developer Russell Ivanovic posted on his blog that his app, MyFrame by Groundhog Software, was targeted by Apple in a call that stated his app would be removed, "stating that they were doing a cull of any applications that presented widgets to the user."



Ivanovic said he earlier defended Apple's App Store policies as being straightforward, with rejection cases in his experience all being based on situations that were "extremely well documented as to what you can and can?t do."



His own rejection, based on an idea Apple imposed without prior warning, and sanctioned against an app that had previously been approved by the company, set Ivanovic off to complain directly to Steve Jobs.



Jobs reportedly replied, "We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops. Sorry." Ivanovic's app adds a layer of information over user's own photos, similar to Microsoft's Vista Gadgets or Mac OS X's Dashboard, although the app is not integrated into the iPad desktop, and is launched like any other app.



Speaking of the initial call he received, Ivanovic said, "I really do get the impression that the guy we were talking to on the phone was being as evasive as he could, even though he didn?t want to be, because he was terrified of giving us any more information than he had to."



Apple likely adding widgets to iPhone OS 4



After multitasking, the ability to run minor widget functions from the Home page is one of the primary, obvious features unique to Android. It is therefore likely that Apple would want to match that capability to prevent its own smartphone from looking deficient. It's also impossibly unlikely that Apple would want to cede that feature to a third party app.



Additionally, as AppleInsider noted in its original iPad review, Apple has removed common minor apps of the iPhone from the iPad's Home page, apps such as Stocks, Weather, and Clock that would seem to make more sense running as Home page widgets rather than full blown apps taking up the whole screen.



It is also expected that Apple will add new support for individual contacts on the Home page, similar to website URLs that act as bookmark shortcuts. Apple has already announced Folders as a new iPhone OS 4 feature, intended to organize apps together into related groups.



Apple has maintained tight control over the Home page experience, as well as its own bundled apps such as Phone, sandboxing third party developers into discrete apps and outlawing any mechanism for modifying or enhancing the appearance of the Lock or Home screens key elements of the iPhone OS experience that are tantamount to the PC desktop. Apple also blocked Google Voice on the basis that it replaces the functionally of core bundled apps.



Maintaining a strong product identity



In stark contrast, Google has allowed its partners and third party developers to make substantial changes to the core user interface in Android, resulting in different user interface layers (such as HTC's Sense UI or Motorola's Blur) which differentiate those partners' products at the expense of creating a solid identity for Android (pictured below).







While Android is often compared to Microsoft's Windows PC platform of the 1990s, Microsoft maintained increasingly strict control over the PC desktop precisely to avoid the incompatible mess of options that DOS PC makers were offering in competition to the Mac in the late 80s.



Microsoft restricted PC makers from adding their own significant user interface modifications and even forced them to bundle its own apps (including Internet Explorer) while pressuring them to avoid bundling competing apps such as Netscape and Apple's QuickTime. The result was an immediately identifiable desktop for Windows 95 and successive versions. At the same time, Microsoft also effectively killed the existing top third party apps of the day, including Word Perfect and Lotus 123, replacing them with its own Office apps ported from the Macintosh.



Microsoft has since created strong, unique desktop branding for Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7 that makes each product instantly recognizable to consumers. Apple has done the same with major versions of Mac OS X. Conspicuously absent from this strong branding are the various distributions of Linux, which all sport unique looks and in some cases, wildly divergent user interfaces. That inconsistency has also played a part in the failure of Linux to gain traction among desktop PC users.



Google has so far only seemed interested in maintaining the presence of its own "with Google" apps on Android, allowing hardware makers to deliver devices under the Android name that all look and feel very different. Whether Google will shift gears to impose tighter standards for Android, or conversely, be able to attract more attention from users with an infinite variety of choices, remains to be seen.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 176
    str1f3str1f3 Posts: 573member
    I could see widgets being far better suited towards the iPad than iPhone. With widgets and multitasking, I wonder what the potential hit is to battery life and performance considering widgets seem to always be running in the background on the Mac.
  • Reply 2 of 176
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    It's also impossibly unlikely



    impossiblyUnlikely.com I like it.
  • Reply 3 of 176
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    Unless June 7th brings about shocking new revelations, I don't see any of this even mattering. From the looks of it, OS 4 is not going to have this functionality, at least not right away. And if Apple fails to impress past a faster processor, better camera, and iChat, I will be switching to the EVO. Android is looking more and more intriguing, and my wife's Eris with Android 2.1 and Sense is a very well done phone. I can only imagine what it's like on a phone as stacked as the EVO.
  • Reply 4 of 176
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    I was really impressed with Norton desktop back in the early 90's as it completely replaced the Windows desktop and had user modifiable icons which Windows did not have. I think that lasted about 48 hours before the MS legal machine took action and N desktop was no more.
  • Reply 5 of 176
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I can see where Apple might (possibly) be coming from. Maybe there?s not much harm, though, in letting potentially-redundant apps succeed or die on their own merits (since I?m not aware of any huge flood of successful apps like this).



    Assuming, though, that the redundancy IS a problem, here?s another way to handle it:



    1. Announce built-in widgets (a rumor I like, but I take it with sale) either under NDA or to the public



    2. Warn existing widget app vendors that after 6 months (or some other generous transition period), they won?t be allowed. The reason will be clear, and the change won?t be sudden.



    3. Let them evolve their app in a new direction OR at least make whatever they money they can during that time.



    In other words, give developers a transition instead of an axe. They invested something, after all, and followed the rules in doing so. People will start to wonder ?am I next, for some unexpected reason??



    I do think Apple?s controlled approach is valuable to the user, and maybe even vital to the platform (looking at the lessons of history). But I think there are better ways to handle these things. Communication with developers had been a consistent failing with the App Store program.
  • Reply 6 of 176
    dagamer34dagamer34 Posts: 494member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    I can see where Apple might (possibly) be coming from. Maybe there?s not much harm, though, in letting potentially-redundant apps succeed or die on their own merits (since I?m not aware of any huge flood of successful apps like this).



    Assuming, though, that the redundancy IS a problem, here?s another way to handle it:



    1. Announce built-in widgets (a rumor I like, but I take it with sale) either under NDA or to the public



    2. Warn existing widget app vendors that after 6 months (or some other generous transition period), they won?t be allowed. The reason will be clear, and the change won?t be sudden.



    3. Let them evolve their app in a new direction OR at least make whatever they money they can during that time.



    In other words, give developers a transition instead of an axe. They invested something, after all, and followed the rules in doing so. People will start to wonder ?am I next, for some unexpected reason??



    I do think Apple?s controlled approach is valuable to the user, and maybe even vital to the platform (looking at the lessons of history). But I think there are better ways to handle these things. Communication with developers had been a consistent failing with the App Store program.



    That would be the logical way to do it. To this date, I have yet to see Apple act logically about those sorts of issues. This is where having too much control to "craft an experience" starting making the company look like asshats in a much broader way.
  • Reply 7 of 176
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,012member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post


    That would be the logical way to do it. To this date, I have yet to see Apple act logically about those sorts of issues. This is where having too much control to "craft an experience" starting making the company look like asshats in a much broader way.





    http://forums.appleinsider.com/showp...6&postcount=16



    Observe. Perfect. Obliterate.



    FWIW, the home page paradigm has been around, like, forever, even at iPhone 2G time. Why apple did not choose to implement this functionality back then is beyond me. It was one of the first things hacked in to OS when the iPhone OS was originally jailbroken.
  • Reply 8 of 176
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    I might use the weather widget I've been using for almost fifty years.



    I call it "looking out the window?".



    Hmm, the ground looks wet, the sky is grey, perhaps I'd better take my umbrella.
  • Reply 9 of 176
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    Ya know, I had no problem with Apple preventing apps from getting on for valid reasons but yanking them after the fact is a bit much. I'd be frustrated and discouraged if they did that to me. They are the gate keeper so they can throw apps out too but there's this fine line when innovation ceases to exist on a platform.
  • Reply 10 of 176
    mbmcavoymbmcavoy Posts: 157member
    Didn't Apple do something like this to some third-party apps that had implementations of Cut & Paste before announcing the new features? The evasiveness of the reasons makes me think that Apple has a similar function in the pipe.



    Many people have asked for a more informative lock screen. Such a feature would not need to be in the beta builds that are released to developers - presuming there are no changes to the notification system.



    If there are changes to notifications, it might be radical enough that Apple wants to get a few months of user feedback to finalize it, and let developers see how it's done "right" before making it available.
  • Reply 11 of 176
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,198member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post




    2. Warn existing widget app vendors that after 6 months (or some other generous transition period), they won’t be allowed. The reason will be clear, and the change won’t be sudden.




    the thing is that there's a history of 'nothing that creates a UI in place of ours'. that's why they nixed Google Voice.



    and they really don't owe the guy an explanation. it is their store and I'm sure in the TC is a line granting them the right to yank approved apps at any time for any reason.



    it's not like they approve your idea before you pay up.



    yeah it sucks for the guy but look at history. he's lucky he didn't get 'we're sorry that this was approved at all because it shouldn't have been. thanks for playing. do come back.'



    Quote:

    3. Let them evolve their app in a new direction



    there's nothing stopping them from doing that.
  • Reply 12 of 176
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,589member
    Widgets? Does anybody use widgets on the Mac? I can't remember last time I did. I can't remember ever seeing anybody use them. Maybe they'll be more useful on a phone or pad...
  • Reply 13 of 176
    Way to treat your devs Jobs , what a slap in the face. " hey this seems popular, i think ill get rid of all the apps out there and put my own on there"



    Android rules.
  • Reply 14 of 176
    ezduzitezduzit Posts: 158member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    impossiblyUnlikely.com I like it.



    'irregardless' says his cousin!!
  • Reply 15 of 176
    The new iPhone will not have true multitasking, sorry. It will fake it in a way to appear as if its multitasking, but it will take a big memory/processor hit as a trade off. Android is years ahead of the iPhone in this ability. And With Android beating the iPhone this year in sales in the US and in Taiwin, it is a matter of time before it comes out on top. And then we have the Google Chromium tablet about to come out, its been real Apple.
  • Reply 16 of 176
    shinrahshinrah Posts: 9member
    I think its been reported elsewhere that default stocks weather and clock app have actually been moved to a folder called utilities by default in the latest OS 4 release. No secret conspiracy here, just bad dev policy from Apple to the 3rd parties.
  • Reply 17 of 176
    shinrahshinrah Posts: 9member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Justsomedude View Post


    The new iPhone will not have true multitasking, sorry. It will fake it in a way to appear as if its multitasking, but it will take a big memory/processor hit as a trade off. Android is years ahead of the iPhone in this ability. And With Android beating the iPhone this year in sales in the US and in Taiwin, it is a matter of time before it comes out on top. And then we have the Google Chromium tablet about to come out, its been real Apple.



    Im just curious because Ive been hearing this around a lot lately that the iphone doesn't have true multitasking and all that jazz but from what they have demonstrated with the new OS release and what multi tasking does on the average android or webos device I struggle to see where users will be missing out on the "true multi tasking" experience. Can someone please explain to me what these competing platforms offer in terms of multi tasking that can not be duplicated by OS 4?
  • Reply 18 of 176
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shinrah View Post


    Im just curious because Ive been hearing this around a lot lately that the iphone doesn't have true multitasking and all that jazz but from what they have demonstrated with the new OS release and what multi tasking does on the average android or webos device I struggle to see where users will be missing out on the "true multi tasking" experience. Can someone please explain to me what these competing platforms offer in terms of multi tasking that can not be duplicated by OS 4?





    Allow me to explain, first it will multitask with very few native iPhone apps, like mail, safari, chat. When it comes too third party apps the devs will have to write in to the app the ability to go into a sleep state and then it will be up to the OS to determine when tha app wakes again to do what it needs to do. This is in starc contrast lets say on the Android platform where the apps decide when to do what it wants to do in the background, much like OS X, or Linux, or Windows does. Also no matter how the app is written and no matter what the iPhone thinks the app wants to do, it will never be able to have a continuous open state in the background as other apps are running to lets say for example receiving real time tweeter feeds. Android is years ahead in this respect, and much more.
  • Reply 19 of 176
    randel77randel77 Posts: 7member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Justsomedude View Post


    The new iPhone will not have true multitasking, sorry. It will fake it in a way to appear as if its multitasking, but it will take a big memory/processor hit as a trade off. Android is years ahead of the iPhone in this ability. And With Android beating the iPhone this year in sales in the US and in Taiwin, it is a matter of time before it comes out on top. And then we have the Google Chromium tablet about to come out, its been real Apple.



    Maybe if it loaded chrome os first with an option to boot into android. Anyway I'm not trolling or anything but it sounds like some of you are on the fence so I just gotta tell you Froyo flys! The whole phone/computer is just fast. The browser is considerably faster and flash works great. The browser has a click to flash option built in which I'm big fan of. So, I'm really not interested in chrome os tablet anymore.
  • Reply 20 of 176
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by randel77 View Post


    Maybe if it loaded chrome os first with an option to boot into android. Anyway I'm not trolling or anything but it sounds like some of you are on the fence so I just gotta tell you Froyo flys! The whole phone/computer is just fast. The browser is considerably faster and flash works great. The browser has a click to flash option built in which I'm big fan of. So, I'm really not interested in chrome os tablet anymore.



    Yes and froyo has native tethering for free.
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