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Hello again! I hope you've enjoyed the last few weeks of guest issues but it's back to me for this week!

It's been a week of App Store drama and it started with a pretty shocking story about Uber being summoned by Apple to discuss their breaking of the App Store guidelines. They were using private APIs to get the device serial number and identify which phones had previously used Uber, even after a full wipe. Worse, they disabled this code when a device was within a radius of Cupertino, deliberately avoiding being found during review. The specifics of what they did with that data are not so important here, but would a cosy chat with the Apple CEO have happened in a situation where the app in question wasn't so important to the iOS platform? Or would it have been immediate removal from the store?

Apple have always made a point that the App Store is a level playing field for all developers and to a large extent that's been true. A 3rd party app on your home screen can get just as much prominence as any of the system apps and for a long time there was no way to artificially boost your app. Yes, now we have search ads, but they are available equally to everyone. I'm not saying it's been 100% neutral by any means, but it has mostly felt close enough for me.

I know that the world isn't fair, and I know that this was probably the right way to handle this situation given the popularity and profile of Uber. To just pull an app like that would have made huge waves and been covered by international media which certainly isn't a story Apple want. It just doesn't make me feel very good about that level playing field we were promised.

There has also been some lower profile App Store review drama, again treating smaller apps differently from high profile ones. Sean Heber from Twitterific tweeted that they had added an icon change feature using the new API, but that it was rejected for the icons being too different from the original. At the same time, the MLB app is approved and has the ability to completely change the app icon to one which represents your team. Could just be a bad decision by a reviewer, it's just not good timing with it being in the same week as the Uber story.

Finally, there's no drama here but while we're on the subject of App Store guidelines it seems that the hidden Safari View Controller trick to automatically log people into apps if they were already logged in with Safari is no longer allowed. There was a guideline added last year which I completely missed that explicitly stops this kind of behaviour.

Life is always fun on the App Store, right? 😱

Dave Verwer

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