Apple has a 'whitelist' of developers who can access unique App Store features

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 7
Apple has a list of whitelisted developers with access to additional App Store subscription features, as revealed by court documents and Apple executive testimony in the Epic Games v. Apple trial.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


During the testimony of App Store VP Matt Fischer on Thursday, the executive was asked about an email conversation with Apple Director of Program Management Cindy Lin.

The email thread started with a message from Fischer to Lin about a tweet concerning automatic App Store subscription cancellations. Fischer asked how Hulu could "switch people from IAP to Hulu billing," adding that App Store chief
Phil Schiller saw the tweet and "wants to know what's going on."

In response, Lin said that Hulu is part of a set of developers with access to a special refund and cancellation feature.

"Hulu is part of the set of whitelisted developers with access to subscription cancel/refund API," Lin wrote. "Back in 2015 they were using this to support instant upgrade using a 2 family set up, before we had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in."

During Fischer's testimony, the App Store VP was asked whether Apple gives special access to features to some developers and not others. Fischer said no, but added that sometimes Apple tests features with a small group of app makers before providing it all developers.

At other points during Fischer's time on the witness stand, he was asked about an email that describes Fischer as feeling "strongly" about not featuring competitors on the App Store. He denied that claim, saying the person who made the comment was misinformed.

"We have promoted apps that are competitive to Apple apps since before I joined the App Store team in 2010, and we continue to not only distribute but to feature and promote apps that are competitive apps in the store," Fischer said.

Fischer also expanded on the working relationship between Epic Games and Apple prior to the dust up over "Fortnite." For example, Epic Games asked Apple to change the policy to allow in-app gifting. Apple did so, and made the change available to all developers. Fischer also noted that Apple "dropped everything we were doing and scrambled" to promote the Travis Scott concert within "Fortnite," claiming that it was a "really cool concept."



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    earthkidearthkid Posts: 22member
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,477member
    earthkid said:
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules, it's a rigorous process. Because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality we do look at every app before it goes on. But those rules apply evenly to everyone. - Tim Cook, Jul 29 2020

    So much for that.

    edited May 6 elijahgmuthuk_vanalingamshareef777Peza
  • Reply 3 of 18
    earthkid said:
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules, it's a rigorous process. Because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality we do look at every app before it goes on. But those rules apply evenly to everyone. - Tim Cook, Jul 29 2020

    So much for that.

    FTA: “During Fischer's testimony, the App Store VP was asked whether Apple gives special access to features to some developers and not others. Fischer said no, but added that sometimes Apple tests features with a small group of app makers before providing it all developers.

    It’s completely reasonable to test an unreleased feature with select developers before rolling it out to all. That isn’t giving some developers special treatment or not treating all developers equally. It’s similar to inviting a few developers that Apple has given early access to new hardware or APIs and having them present on-stage at an Apple event. Is it “special treatment”? Kinda. But not in the way that Epic would like the court to believe.
    ericthehalfbeeradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,351member
    nasserae said:
    AppleInsider editors couldn’t have came up with more clickbait title. Thank you for reminding me why I stopped reading AI. 
    Obviously you forgot about it since you are here. 

    I find it perfectly reasonable that they work with smal groups of developers to flesh out new features, APIs, etc.   and then roll it out to everyone.  


    hammeroftruthchiaradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,036member
    nasserae said:
    AppleInsider editors couldn’t have came up with more clickbait title. Thank you for reminding me why I stopped reading AI. 
    I don’t believe you know what clickbait means. This is obviously not it. 

    “Clickbait is a text or a thumbnail link that is designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow that link and read, view, or listen to the linked piece of online content, with a defining characteristic of being deceptive, typically sensationalized or misleading.“

    In this case, there is no deception, you know, unless you have issues with comprehension. 
    elijahgmuthuk_vanalingamradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,147member
    earthkid said:
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules, it's a rigorous process. Because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality we do look at every app before it goes on. But those rules apply evenly to everyone. - Tim Cook, Jul 29 2020

    So much for that.

    FTA: “During Fischer's testimony, the App Store VP was asked whether Apple gives special access to features to some developers and not others. Fischer said no, but added that sometimes Apple tests features with a small group of app makers before providing it all developers.

    It’s completely reasonable to test an unreleased feature with select developers before rolling it out to all. That isn’t giving some developers special treatment or not treating all developers equally. It’s similar to inviting a few developers that Apple has given early access to new hardware or APIs and having them present on-stage at an Apple event. Is it “special treatment”? Kinda. But not in the way that Epic would like the court to believe.
    Ok, and how about the special treatment they gave Amazon to get them to bring the Prime TV to the AppleTV? 
    muthuk_vanalingamPeza
  • Reply 7 of 18
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,566member
    earthkid said:
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules, it's a rigorous process. Because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality we do look at every app before it goes on. But those rules apply evenly to everyone. - Tim Cook, Jul 29 2020

    So much for that.

    FTA: “During Fischer's testimony, the App Store VP was asked whether Apple gives special access to features to some developers and not others. Fischer said no, but added that sometimes Apple tests features with a small group of app makers before providing it all developers.

    It’s completely reasonable to test an unreleased feature with select developers before rolling it out to all. That isn’t giving some developers special treatment or not treating all developers equally. It’s similar to inviting a few developers that Apple has given early access to new hardware or APIs and having them present on-stage at an Apple event. Is it “special treatment”? Kinda. But not in the way that Epic would like the court to believe.
    I was going to say this hardly a revelation given we see it publically every year at WWDC.
    ericthehalfbeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,256member
    elijahg said:
    earthkid said:
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules, it's a rigorous process. Because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality we do look at every app before it goes on. But those rules apply evenly to everyone. - Tim Cook, Jul 29 2020

    So much for that.

    FTA: “During Fischer's testimony, the App Store VP was asked whether Apple gives special access to features to some developers and not others. Fischer said no, but added that sometimes Apple tests features with a small group of app makers before providing it all developers.

    It’s completely reasonable to test an unreleased feature with select developers before rolling it out to all. That isn’t giving some developers special treatment or not treating all developers equally. It’s similar to inviting a few developers that Apple has given early access to new hardware or APIs and having them present on-stage at an Apple event. Is it “special treatment”? Kinda. But not in the way that Epic would like the court to believe.
    Ok, and how about the special treatment they gave Amazon to get them to bring the Prime TV to the AppleTV? 

    Source for this? And please don’t bring up that stupid single email that everyone flaunts as some kind of proof. It’s a single email out of undoubtedly a long chain of back and forth discussions.

    Around the same time this email surfaced is also when Apple dropped subscription fees for all developers to 15% after the first year.

    This lines up perfectly with Fischer talking about testing something with developers before rolling it out to all developers.
    spock1234Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,166member
    earthkid said:
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules, it's a rigorous process. Because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality we do look at every app before it goes on. But those rules apply evenly to everyone. - Tim Cook, Jul 29 2020

    So much for that.

    As noted. They test features and APIs to determine the effects. Sometimes it works some time it doesn’t. The gifting request by Epic mentioned in this article is a prime example. Apple looked at it, tested it with Epic and saw no ill effects and then made it available for all developers equally. If a developer helps test a feature that does not make it but had invested a good bit of time and resources into it testing it, I’m sure they would leave it active as long as they are not abusing it. I’m sure Apple gets feedback on potential unexpected results to certain access and if they can’t find a solution to mitigate it they wouldn’t open it up further to less trust worthy developers like Epic. 

    It’s no different than early access given to developers for new hardware or software features added to an upcoming OS. Giving Access to the wrong people ensures leaks and other problems. 
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,627member
    So, not so much a ‘whitelist’ as a beta group. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    PezaPeza Posts: 187member
    Fischer is obviously lying here, under oath no less. You can't have one employee state a group is a whitelist of trusted large scale developers with access to other API's, and then have another employee claim they are only beta testers. If they were beta testers you'd have a much wider scope of devs from big to small. Not hold any exclusive list of those you stand to make the most profit from... and who are substantial in size. 

    EDIT looking further into this, it seems Hulu according to Apple internal emails shown in the trial had access to this special subscription cancellation API AT LEAST since 2015, yet Apple today on the stand are proclaiming this year that it's a beta test? Even though no other dev can access the same API today that Hulu uses? Pull the other one it's  got the bell from the Titanic attached to it...
    And from what I can gather Hulu still uses this 'special' API.

    Does not look very good for Apple.
    edited May 7 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 18
    PezaPeza Posts: 187member
    genovelle said:
    earthkid said:
    It’s good that they have white list in my opinion because then those who miss behave like the epic they can be on the blacklist if they can come back to iOS again. But since they like to break the rule and then Sue asked for it, I don’t think I would let them back. and the white list is to be there for those who follow the role and play by the role. Reward for good behavior is honorated!
    We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules, it's a rigorous process. Because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality we do look at every app before it goes on. But those rules apply evenly to everyone. - Tim Cook, Jul 29 2020

    So much for that.

    As noted. They test features and APIs to determine the effects. Sometimes it works some time it doesn’t. The gifting request by Epic mentioned in this article is a prime example. Apple looked at it, tested it with Epic and saw no ill effects and then made it available for all developers equally. If a developer helps test a feature that does not make it but had invested a good bit of time and resources into it testing it, I’m sure they would leave it active as long as they are not abusing it. I’m sure Apple gets feedback on potential unexpected results to certain access and if they can’t find a solution to mitigate it they wouldn’t open it up further to less trust worthy developers like Epic. 

    It’s no different than early access given to developers for new hardware or software features added to an upcoming OS. Giving Access to the wrong people ensures leaks and other problems. 
    Yes, Hulu have been usefully 'beta' testing this API exclusively for 6 years now.. must have provided some great feedback I'm sure. Although it can't be very good as no one else is allowed access to it still, but Hulu still seem able to use it well even to this day...  /S
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 18
    Peza said:
    Fischer is obviously lying here, under oath no less. You can't have one employee state a group is a whitelist of trusted large scale developers with access to other API's, and then have another employee claim they are only beta testers. If they were beta testers you'd have a much wider scope of devs from big to small. Not hold any exclusive list of those you stand to make the most profit from... and who are substantial in size. 

    EDIT looking further into this, it seems Hulu according to Apple internal emails shown in the trial had access to this special subscription cancellation API AT LEAST since 2015, yet Apple today on the stand are proclaiming this year that it's a beta test? Even though no other dev can access the same API today that Hulu uses? Pull the other one it's  got the bell from the Titanic attached to it...
    And from what I can gather Hulu still uses this 'special' API.

    Does not look very good for Apple.
    Based on what it says here in this article, it seems clear that it *was* a live beta, one that ended once Apple “had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in.” I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that the live beta never ended and Apple never finished the job, since they are saying pretty much the exact opposite of that. There’s no discrepancy that I can see.

    The “white list” seed program continues, obviously, but that particular live beta ended, equally obviously.
    edited May 7 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    PezaPeza Posts: 187member
    Peza said:
    Fischer is obviously lying here, under oath no less. You can't have one employee state a group is a whitelist of trusted large scale developers with access to other API's, and then have another employee claim they are only beta testers. If they were beta testers you'd have a much wider scope of devs from big to small. Not hold any exclusive list of those you stand to make the most profit from... and who are substantial in size. 

    EDIT looking further into this, it seems Hulu according to Apple internal emails shown in the trial had access to this special subscription cancellation API AT LEAST since 2015, yet Apple today on the stand are proclaiming this year that it's a beta test? Even though no other dev can access the same API today that Hulu uses? Pull the other one it's  got the bell from the Titanic attached to it...
    And from what I can gather Hulu still uses this 'special' API.

    Does not look very good for Apple.
    Based on what it says here in this article, it seems clear that it *was* a live beta, one that ended once Apple “had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in.” I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that the live beta never ended and Apple never finished the job, since they are saying pretty much the exact opposite of that. There’s no discrepancy that I can see.

    The “white list” seed program continues, obviously, but that particular live beta ended, equally obviously.
    Devs do not have access to the same API, that’s the difference, Hulu still is using a special version no one else can access, and they have been using it since 2015, that’s what people are saying, it’s effectively according to Apple been in beta for several years, so only a select whitelist of devs can use it. You seem to have missed that point?
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Peza said:
    Peza said:
    Fischer is obviously lying here, under oath no less. You can't have one employee state a group is a whitelist of trusted large scale developers with access to other API's, and then have another employee claim they are only beta testers. If they were beta testers you'd have a much wider scope of devs from big to small. Not hold any exclusive list of those you stand to make the most profit from... and who are substantial in size. 

    EDIT looking further into this, it seems Hulu according to Apple internal emails shown in the trial had access to this special subscription cancellation API AT LEAST since 2015, yet Apple today on the stand are proclaiming this year that it's a beta test? Even though no other dev can access the same API today that Hulu uses? Pull the other one it's  got the bell from the Titanic attached to it...
    And from what I can gather Hulu still uses this 'special' API.

    Does not look very good for Apple.
    Based on what it says here in this article, it seems clear that it *was* a live beta, one that ended once Apple “had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in.” I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that the live beta never ended and Apple never finished the job, since they are saying pretty much the exact opposite of that. There’s no discrepancy that I can see.

    The “white list” seed program continues, obviously, but that particular live beta ended, equally obviously.
    Devs do not have access to the same API, that’s the difference, Hulu still is using a special version no one else can access, and they have been using it since 2015, that’s what people are saying, it’s effectively according to Apple been in beta for several years, so only a select whitelist of devs can use it. You seem to have missed that point?
    “people are saying” — what are you referring to? I don’t see it in this article. Who are these people? I mean, you’re accusing an Apple employee of lying under oath. That’s a pretty serious allegation. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    PezaPeza Posts: 187member
    Peza said:
    Peza said:
    Fischer is obviously lying here, under oath no less. You can't have one employee state a group is a whitelist of trusted large scale developers with access to other API's, and then have another employee claim they are only beta testers. If they were beta testers you'd have a much wider scope of devs from big to small. Not hold any exclusive list of those you stand to make the most profit from... and who are substantial in size. 

    EDIT looking further into this, it seems Hulu according to Apple internal emails shown in the trial had access to this special subscription cancellation API AT LEAST since 2015, yet Apple today on the stand are proclaiming this year that it's a beta test? Even though no other dev can access the same API today that Hulu uses? Pull the other one it's  got the bell from the Titanic attached to it...
    And from what I can gather Hulu still uses this 'special' API.

    Does not look very good for Apple.
    Based on what it says here in this article, it seems clear that it *was* a live beta, one that ended once Apple “had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in.” I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that the live beta never ended and Apple never finished the job, since they are saying pretty much the exact opposite of that. There’s no discrepancy that I can see.

    The “white list” seed program continues, obviously, but that particular live beta ended, equally obviously.
    Devs do not have access to the same API, that’s the difference, Hulu still is using a special version no one else can access, and they have been using it since 2015, that’s what people are saying, it’s effectively according to Apple been in beta for several years, so only a select whitelist of devs can use it. You seem to have missed that point?
    “people are saying” — what are you referring to? I don’t see it in this article. Who are these people? I mean, you’re accusing an Apple employee of lying under oath. That’s a pretty serious allegation. 

    http://www.macrumors.com/2021/05/06/apple-hulu-special-api-access/

    This report may make it easier to see, it seems in the context no mention of any 'beta' program was made n 2018 relating to this white list of developers, only that they had access to special API's no one else had, and this was in 2018, and Hulu as stated in this story had been using the API since 2015, so they at least had exclusive access to an API for 3 years, and today Apple claimed it was a beta test, for 3 years? At least? No that's a lie in my mind, and yes I am accusing of that, because the email evidence and context from 2018 and the timeline from 2015 to 2018 do not support that. Plus devs have commented stating they do not have access to this api.
    edited May 7 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 18
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 560member
    Peza said:
    Peza said:
    Fischer is obviously lying here, under oath no less. You can't have one employee state a group is a whitelist of trusted large scale developers with access to other API's, and then have another employee claim they are only beta testers. If they were beta testers you'd have a much wider scope of devs from big to small. Not hold any exclusive list of those you stand to make the most profit from... and who are substantial in size. 

    EDIT looking further into this, it seems Hulu according to Apple internal emails shown in the trial had access to this special subscription cancellation API AT LEAST since 2015, yet Apple today on the stand are proclaiming this year that it's a beta test? Even though no other dev can access the same API today that Hulu uses? Pull the other one it's  got the bell from the Titanic attached to it...
    And from what I can gather Hulu still uses this 'special' API.

    Does not look very good for Apple.
    Based on what it says here in this article, it seems clear that it *was* a live beta, one that ended once Apple “had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in.” I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that the live beta never ended and Apple never finished the job, since they are saying pretty much the exact opposite of that. There’s no discrepancy that I can see.

    The “white list” seed program continues, obviously, but that particular live beta ended, equally obviously.
    Devs do not have access to the same API, that’s the difference, Hulu still is using a special version no one else can access, and they have been using it since 2015, that’s what people are saying, it’s effectively according to Apple been in beta for several years, so only a select whitelist of devs can use it. You seem to have missed that point?
    That's was Trump's line - did you steal it from him?  And you need to read again - the feature Hulu was testing on the "whitelist" is now slightly different, but available to all app developers, not only Hulu.  You seem to have missed the point.
    Dogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    flydogflydog Posts: 945member
    Peza said:
    Peza said:
    Fischer is obviously lying here, under oath no less. You can't have one employee state a group is a whitelist of trusted large scale developers with access to other API's, and then have another employee claim they are only beta testers. If they were beta testers you'd have a much wider scope of devs from big to small. Not hold any exclusive list of those you stand to make the most profit from... and who are substantial in size. 

    EDIT looking further into this, it seems Hulu according to Apple internal emails shown in the trial had access to this special subscription cancellation API AT LEAST since 2015, yet Apple today on the stand are proclaiming this year that it's a beta test? Even though no other dev can access the same API today that Hulu uses? Pull the other one it's  got the bell from the Titanic attached to it...
    And from what I can gather Hulu still uses this 'special' API.

    Does not look very good for Apple.
    Based on what it says here in this article, it seems clear that it *was* a live beta, one that ended once Apple “had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in.” I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that the live beta never ended and Apple never finished the job, since they are saying pretty much the exact opposite of that. There’s no discrepancy that I can see.

    The “white list” seed program continues, obviously, but that particular live beta ended, equally obviously.
    Devs do not have access to the same API, that’s the difference, Hulu still is using a special version no one else can access, and they have been using it since 2015, that’s what people are saying, it’s effectively according to Apple been in beta for several years, so only a select whitelist of devs can use it. You seem to have missed that point?
    Nowhere does it state that Hulu has been using a special API for the past 6 years.  It states, “were” using (past tense) before that functionality was available to all developers, which it now is. 

    In any case, what’s the difference? Is there a law that prohibits favoring some clients over others? What I find surprising is how little accommodation Apple gives to customers who make up a sizable part of its App Store revenue. 
    Dogpersonwatto_cobra
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