First, we present Fracture. You tap the iPhone to “crack” the screen and then you tap again to cause the apps to explode, triggering the rest of the apps to explode in rapid succession. Next, we find SkyFart. You press a little man and he farts. Then you press him again and he farts and again and flies into space. Then you press him again and he farts and flies. Then you press him again…
So which app was accepted by the App store with open and which one was rejected?
This is a symbolic representation of the two apps fighting the app store.
The logical thing to say, based on the common understanding that the expression of gas and fecal matter as a mode of transport is considered by some to be offensive, is that SkyFart would be rejected out of hand. This is not true.
I’ve been hanging out with the lads from VisuaMobile, the creators of both apps and got to see firsthand some of the odd reasons given by the iPhone gatekeepers. For example, read this email exchange.
> Please include the line below in follow-up emails for this request.
> Follow-up: XXXX
> Dear Visuamobile Developer,
> Thank you for submitting your application to Apple’s App Store. Unfortunately, your application, Fracture, still cannot be added to the App Store because it uses standard iPhone screen images in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion. Changing the behavior of standard iPhone graphics, actions, and images, or simulating failures of those graphics, actions, or images is a violation of the iPhone Developer Program agreement which requires applications to abide by the Human Interface Guidelines.
> If you would like to share this app with friends and family, we recommend you review the Ad Hoc method on the Distribution tab of the iPhone Developer Portal for details. This will allow you to distribute your application to a small group of people of your choosing.
> iPhone Developer Program
Fair enough: they are using the iPhone home screen in a manner unbefitting of an iPhone home screen. It could potentially confuse and vex the mentally deficient to the point of tears. It dilutes the brand by allowing the user to feel that he or she has power over the home screen. It uses Apple IP in a way that is detrimental to good will.
But what about the fake calls app. This app simulates a call coming in, allowing the user to escape from dullards with ease. It uses the iPhone’s dialing screen and even shows you getting a call from Steve Jobs, not something I’d want folks to simulate if I were a member of the marketing or legal teams at Apple. They definitely don’t want some moron like me pretending to get calls from Steve. It dilutes the brand.
It’s not so much that Apple censors apps as it is that the situation is paternalistic and self-serving. Obviously VisuaMobile makes their money on iPhone apps and this is a brave new business model that, in a sense, uses Apple’s good will and popularity to boost the bottom lines of a number of successful programmers. As MG wrote, it’s not clear there’s a rhyme or reason to many of these gnomic responses that are essentially the result of a Kabbalahic and arbitrary reading of the terms of service.
Are VisuaMobile upset? A little, but they understand. Luc Veuillet, VisuaMobile’s marketing man, even notes there are no hard feelings. “It’s a business. We love them,” he said.
But when will devs say ‘Enough is enough?’ Ever? I doubt it.