back to article Apple yanks Wi-Fi detectors from iTunes

Wi-Fi hotspot detecting applications are the latest on Apple's list of verboten apps, and even developers are being left in the dark as to why. Wi-Fi detection is something of a niche: there were never more than a handful of such applications in iTunes. But now even those have vanished as Apple decided they were using a " …

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  1. petur
    FAIL

    Welcome to the world of Apple

    They are slowly showing more of their real face, and it keeps looking uglier.... We urgently need an icon of Jobs with a small black moustache and a raised right hand....

    1. unitron

      Not the entire hand, just...

      "We urgently need an icon of Jobs with a small black moustache and a raised right hand...."

      Under these circumstances I'm more picturing Steve with an upraised middle finger.

  2. Barry Tabrah
    WTF?

    An application with practical use

    I use a wifi detector app to determine wifi range issues and possible conflicts with neighbours wifi. This is one of the most useful apps I have and Apple have decided it's a no-no? Bad form I say!

    1. flof

      Android has you covered

      Those scanners are really a godsend to find a halfway clear channel when customers have >20 WiFi networks nearby.

      Nicest I've seen so far (and another reason apart from general freedom and real Multitasking that I'm glad I switched from jesusPhone to an Android Milestone) is WiFi Analyzer.

    2. Phillip Williams 1

      WiFi detectors work fine in Android...

      'cummon guys, join the Android crew: IMHO better 'phones and nice, open, unlocked-phones with both supported marketplace & unsupported marketplace apps available - AS STANDARD!!

      Cheers!

      Phillip

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        nice and open..

        Unless you want to tether properly over wifi without having to run some lameass special kludges on the client machine (this is the sole reason why I won't buy an Android device).

        1. Greg D
          Go

          tethering on android

          i can tether mine as a wifi hot spot without any client based software. you need to re-investigate how its done :)

        2. frymaster

          huh?

          if by "lameass cludges" you mean "installing the network driver" then guilty as charged....

          please explain how any other device can manage IP connectivity over a USB cable without needing a driver

        3. Mark Boothroyd
          Thumb Up

          Just works on Android (at least it does for me)

          Kludge? I just plugged my HTC Hero into my Netbook (Ubuntu) and it just worked. The OS just sees it as a wired Internet connection, no setting changes required anywhere. Just launched Firefox and the web worked immediately.

    3. The Original Ash
      FAIL

      Serves you right

      Every penny you throw at Apple only strengthens their grip. Sucks when they tear off something you actually want, isn't it.

      Enjoy your 7000 fart applications.

      1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

        Enjoy...

        "Enjoy your 7000 fart applications."... while you can. I'm sure soon enough Jobs will decide they are too juvenile and pull them from the app store.

        1. Alan Esworthy
          Jobs Horns

          Pulling (my finger or) fart apps

          I expect he'd pull those apps if one of his pep speeches was interrupted by a significant part of the audience pulled out their iPhones and iPods, cranked up the volume, and let 'em rip. (hint, hint)

        2. Ammaross Danan
          FAIL

          Never

          Jobs would never pull those apps from the store! They help add (pad) those app counts with zeroes! "Over 100,000 Apps! There's an App for that!" (as long as you're looking for a fart app or something equally younger than 12)

  3. Neur0mancer
    WTF?

    The Lord Giveth

    And the Lord Taketh Away.

    Freakin' Nazis Man, Freakin' Nazis!

    Gibber

  4. The Other Steve
    Jobs Horns

    Whiny Little Maggots Hit With Cluebat

    "Only applications that actively scan have been pulled"

    Two words : "battery life". Here's another two : "user experience". And another two "Control Freak", and finally, two more "Steve Jobs". Getting the picture yet ? No ?

    "though Apple has apparently declined to explain exactly what rule the scanning applications are breaking."

    Much as I hate to leap to their defence, they have in fact explained exactly what rule the scanning applications are breaking.

    Here's the fucking great big clue :

    "We received a very unfortunate email today from Apple stating that WiFi Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks to access wireless information,"

    The SDK agreement accepted by every registered developer very specifically prohibits the use of private frameworks.

    Recently, though, the app store peeps have been slack in enforcing several of the rules, this one included, and this is very much a 'tidying up' effort to make sure that all the rules are applied, even if that means retrospectively rejecting apps.

    Yes, it is indeed a bummer, and yes indeed, it will royally piss off developers who had previously had their apps accepted, and yes, Apple are a proper mardy bunch, prone to hissy fits and fickle as buggery. This however is not news.

    The moral of the story is a simple one : READ THE FUCKING DOCUMENTS. These developers should not be surprised that their apps are being pulled, they should have been surprised to get them approved in the first place.

    Clearly neither the effected devs, or the article's author have bothered their arses to RTFM before whining. Fail.

    This is particularly stupid on the part of the devs, because in their case they made a legally binding agreement with Apple based entirely on a document that they clearly either haven't read, or have failed to understand. So no sympathy what so ever.

    If you're going to play with big boys you need to get your fucking shit together, y'know ?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Free data transfer is business piracy...

    ...or so Apple would have us believe. God forbid you get to access the internet without them getting a piece of that pie.

    This is just plain sad and pathetic. And another reason to steer clear of all things Apple.

  6. blah 5
    Jobs Horns

    This is why I'll never own an Apple product.

    I'm just not their target market. ;)

    1. P Zero
      Jobs Horns

      Agreed

      At least after my 120gb black iPod classic dies. Never been "appy" but the fact the thing likes skipping in the middle of my music sort of ruins the awesome of having more space then I can possibly use.

    2. Marc 25
      Thumb Up

      re: Whiny Little Maggots Hit With Cluebat

      i like you...my kida sysadmin:)

    3. Cameron Colley

      Customers and developers both...

      ... Are hit with clue 2*4.

      If you want to develop for, or use, a device you have conrol over then don't buy Apple.

      Yes the iPhone does look like a cool device -- but it's a locked-down and neutered device. If you develop for, or own, an iPhone you should expect this -- you patent-lawyer-funding gits!

  7. ChrisH
    Paris Hilton

    hmm

    Apple can suck on my big BlackBerry.

  8. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Once again there ISN'T and app for that.

    Title says it all, really.

  9. Campbeltonian
    Jobs Horns

    Private frameworks

    "Apple has apparently declined to explain exactly what rule the scanning applications are breaking."

    They're breaking the rule that says "Thou shalt not use private frameworks". I would have thought this would be obvious.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    But are...

    ...the fart apps safe.

    Please tell me we won't be losing those anytime soon?

  11. davefb

    if they used a private framework

    then why were they able to launch on appstore, since that's one of the tests they do?

  12. Ben Rosenthal

    well

    that does sound a bit too serious for a rich kids toy.

    Best if it sticks to farting and burping.

  13. Adam C 1
    FAIL

    Yet another reason

    To Jailbreak.

    Like I wanted an app to turn my bluetooth off without going through five different steps.. is there an app in the app store? No, because you need to use 'private frameworks' to fricking do it.

    Luckily, I found plenty of apps on Cydia that do the job perfectly, as well as an alternative to the Wifi scanner mentioned in the article.

    Apple are due to crack down on all apps that use 'private frameworks'. It's against the App store rules, so the developers know they've done wrong incorporating it into their apps and would have known it was only a matter of time before Apple picked up on it, but this is still pathetic anyway.

    1. The Other Steve
      Jobs Horns

      Shome mishtake shurely

      I would say that's a reason to buy a different frickin phone. Why the hell do people who have such a problem with the restrictions even have an iPhone in the first place ?

  14. Mark Broadhurst
    Jobs Horns

    Killing their own business ?

    The long term impact of apple apparently randomly pulling apps from the iphone and soon the ipad, is that investors and companies who make the apps have an uncertain future. They can make an app which is accepted and put on the app store and make money and at an unknown point in the future it could be pulled meaning the odds of getting ROI is low.

    It would make me think twice about investing in the iPhone app store.

  15. Steve Todd
    Stop

    It's been in the dev T&Cs since day one

    You're not to create apps that use undocumented API calls. Simple as that. Apple find out that you've been doing just that and your app gets pulled. Making a song and dance of things isn't going to get them put back.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Joke

      Vetted applications

      ...and since day one, Apple personally vets all the applications to "protect" their users. The vetting process, and the delay it causes are well known about.

      So how did they manage to update their app so that is now uses private frameworks, and get the updated version onto the app store without going through Apple? (for Apple to then find out and pull it). And why did they change their app so that it now uses private frameworks, when it obviously worked fine originally without them when Apple vetted it?

    2. Coyote

      unless you are Google.

      Google did it with the proximity sensor in the voice search and got away with it. There's probably a public API for the prox sensor now, but there didn't used to be.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bah!

    I always hated Apple, but having found that the 3GS was the best handset on sale the last time i was in the market for such a thing, i bought one.

    Im beginning to think that come the time when its to be replaced, i'll be jumping ship, unsure who to really. Nexus One is a nice handset but lets be honest Google arent exactly angels themselves.

    Apple just seem to get barmier by the day, i mean the boobs thing i could kind of see the point of; smut isnt really good for the image. But this? And more to the point, whats next?

    Bah....Cup and string it is then!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    required

    I guess this means that WiFi detectors can't be banned from the Android Market, because Apple will sue.

    'We banned 1st, we can't sit idly by and watch our competitors steal our banstick.'

  18. Jeremy 2
    Jobs Horns

    <title/>

    No company should punt their wares on the App Store. The sheer volume of cases like these where Apple arbitrarily remove businesses' income streams and constantly shift the goalposts in terms of what is and is not allowed should be a clear warning to developers. Who knows what next week's naughty list will contain?

    Apple are the new PayPal.

    1. The Other Steve
      FAIL

      Only not

      "cases like these where Apple arbitrarily remove businesses' income streams and constantly shift the goalposts"

      Only they didn't do it arbitrarily, this is an enforcement of the developer agreement which the developers ought to have been aware of. So not arbitrary. And it's always been there, so no moving goalposts either.

      The iPhone is a closed platform which belongs to Apple. Period. People who have a problem with this can buy and develop for a selection of other mobile platforms, rocket science it most certainly is not.

      1. Jeremy 2
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Only not

        "Only they didn't do it arbitrarily, this is an enforcement of the developer agreement which the developers ought to have been aware of. So not arbitrary. And it's always been there, so no moving goalposts either."

        An argument that would stand up if Apple hadn't 'reviewed' and approved the app for sale in the first place.

  19. Paul 77
    WTF?

    Can someone please explain...

    What the hell these "private frameworks" are, and why they are such a big deal?

    1. Argh

      Private frameworks

      They're function calls that an application can use to do things.

      If they're private, it means that Apple don't want you to use them. The idea is that Apple haven't decided if they're going to change them, if they're going to be available in future products, etc.

      It's similar to Microsoft when they used undocumented APIs in their own products and it was deemed anti-competitive but Apple are a rule unto themselves.

      1. Peter H. Coffin

        Not very similar at all.

        Not parallel, just kind of broadly dealing with the same category. Were Apple selling these kind of applications using these undocumented calls competing with applications that were prohibited from using those calls, then the situation would be closer. But as far as the article is concerned and based on rumors heard elsewhere, even Apple developers are forbidden from using internal calls at the application layer, for precisely the same reasons external developers are: they may change at any time, without notice, and "This application is incompatible with X.Y release" Is Not On.

      2. Rolf Howarth

        Anticompetitiveness

        "It's similar to Microsoft when they used undocumented APIs in their own products and it was deemed anti-competitive but Apple are a rule unto themselves."

        No, it's Microsoft who were the law unto themselves. There's nothing illegal with using undocumented APIs or using DRM to create a closed platform, unless you happen to be in a monopoly position, when different rules apply. There are plenty of other MP3 players, smart phones, app and music stores, mobile phone operators, game consoles, etc. out there, so nothing is forcing you to use Apple's (or anyone else's) products if you don't want to.

        Microsoft got into trouble because they abused their monopoly position (eg. by illegally restricting what OEMs were allowed to do) and were found to have broken competition law on several different occasions, in both the USA and Europe.

        1. Jolyon

          Same but different

          So it's the same behaviour but it's not wrong when Apple does it as it is not yet a monopoly?

          That's not *much* of a justification really, is it?

        2. James Butler

          Please ...

          "..nothing is forcing you to use Apple's (or anyone else's) products if you don't want to."

          Let's please stop using this statement in any comment that goes on to reference Microsoft and their monopoly, shall we? You are always free to use any product you can get, and that has always included Microsoft's products ... in that you have never *had* to buy Microsoft products, there have *always* been alternatives.

          So let's all acknowledge that (1) nobody is "forcing" anyone to do anything in any event, (2) Microsoft is a convicted monopolist and (3) Apple is heading down the same road, but will never get there because Jobs doesn't want a company that big ... he prefers marketing to a cult: It's easier, and in all of recorded history there has never been a successful uprising perpetrated by cult members against their God.

          1. Rolf Howarth
            Badgers

            Competition law

            The kind of thing Microsoft used to do is say "Windows can only access a file share via SMB, and we won't license SMB to you if you plan to sell a fileserver that runs Solaris or Linux rather than Windows Server", or tell PC manufacturers "we'll only let you install Windows on your machines if you buy a copy for EVERY machine you sell, even if your customer wants to run Linux". So yes, they did force people to buy Microsoft products.

            Having a monopoly or not is everything. Before you say Apple is forcing you to use the iTunes store to make online purchases, remember that competition law isn't there to directly give CONSUMERS a choice on any particular platform but is there to ensure there are no unfair blocks preventing a new MANUFACTURER entering a market. There are plenty of other successful music and video stores, eg. Amazon, so by definition the iTunes Store can't be anticompetive.

  20. Miek
    FAIL

    The only app

    The only app I ever found the need to whip out the credit card for, I'll be rather upset if that app disappears from my ipod. I use a wireless scanner to track down unauthorised access points on our campus.

    Fortunately my forray into android development was rather 'fruitful'. Can't wait to get my hands on a gPhone.

  21. Paul R
    Jobs Horns

    Not just Android, WM too

    I currently have a WM phone (I'll be getting an Android one in the next few weeks too), and apps like WiFiFoFum work wonderfully and have been very useful.

    It really should tell people something about Apple when even a Windows powered device is a more open platform.

  22. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    The full rule that developers have broken

    Thou shalt not use private frameworks... but Apple will look the other way until the Great Steve Jobs decides that AppStore's market share is above the magic threashold.

  23. Sean O'Connor 1
    Stop

    Stop ranting

    I think this whole discussion can be summed up as:

    Non-iPhone developers: "Can't believe Steve Jobs's control freakery, should have got an Android, arbitrarily remove businesses' income streams, constantly shift the goalposts, rant, rant, rant..."

    iPhone developers: "They used private frameworks. Wow. Why did they do that?"

  24. Richard 118

    Private APIs

    To be honest I have very little sympathy with the developers.

    Apple have NEVER made it a secret that if you use private API calls in your apps then expect to be rejected or pulled from the App Store.

    They only wasted their time because they didn't listen to what apple said and what their user agreement said

  25. lukewarmdog
    Badgers

    Thing is

    Maybe the app(s) shouldn't have been there in the first place but they were.

    Unless they were illegal in some way, why delete what is a revenue stream for the developer and the publisher? Apple often just leave me scratching my head.

    1. Riccardo Spagni
      Go

      Are you seriously that imbecilic?

      You miss the point - they weren't illegal. They were using Private Frameworks that, from Apple's most recent move, are going to change in iPhone OS 3.2 or 4.0. Imagine this scenario: Apple's mildly technical staff (and mildly technical is a compliment, what truly gifted iPhone dev or even average iPhone dev will work for Apple approving other people's apps!?) get the task of checking wifi scanning apps. They all seem benign, they work, they're basically stable on the test hardware. They run it through some pre-baked Apple disassembly tools that don't spot the Private Framework calls because they're not looking for them or whatever. Apps get approved and are in the app store.

      Fast forward to the beginning of 2010. The iPad is going into production and Apple are readying the next iteration of iPhone OS for it. They've made changes to CommCenter that, for example, improves wifi stability on the new OS release. During their testing of the iPad a tester installs some wifi scanning apps from the app store...and would you know it, they don't work. An investigation by Apple's higher-up technically competent staff reveals that the active scanners are using a private CommCenter framework call that has been deprecated in favour of a new one that improves wifi stability. So they REMOVE THE OFFENDING APPS.

      If this is the way the scenario played out, can you blame Apple for letting the apps slip through undetected? Can you blame them for realising the framework calls were there only later? Can you blame them for fixing their error?

  26. James Katt

    This is obvious

    The iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad SDK rules are that you only use public application programming interfaces, not private application interfaces. Only frameworks, therefore, that Apple has approved can be used for developing applications for the OS X platform.

    These applications were busted for using Apple's private frameworks and APIs. Thus they are to be taken down. Apple, for example, doesn't allow direct connections in programs to some of the hardware.

    There is a fence that these programmers crossed. Simple.

    1. Bilgepipe

      @James Katt

      Not surprising to see the anti-Apple-tards downvoting your post. If this were Microsoft enforcing rules that developers specifically signed up to, the same commentards would be all over it as a Good Thing.

      I'm not scrolling down any further, the torrent of uninformed crap posted by the Redmond Apologists will be unbearable.

  27. Richard Cartledge

    Ki

    If developers don't stick to the guidelines, then there will be future compatibility problems.

  28. bobzilla

    Not quite

    Developers spend months of back and forth with app store employees making them happy before an app is approved and made available. Apple knew how these apps worked, approved them, then later (a month later in Wifi-Where's case) pulled them all. That's moving the goalposts of what is allowed and enforced, and adds risk to any Apple app store time/money investment. Imagine if Jobs was talking about "apps" instead of "music" in his open letter on DRM:

    "Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. "

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      What Jobs was really thinking...

      ...was that every player and every store in this ideal world was an Apple one.

    2. Richard 118

      Not really

      When you have a compiled application they can't manually check every single app for every call to every API.

      However most recently all NEW updates and submissions were run automatically through a static analysis tool for calls to private APIs and were then rejected.

      However some of these apps haven't been updated since this practice was put into place, so I guess Apple have now decided to remove the non-updated ones too

      1. Basic
        WTF?

        @Richard 118

        "When you have a compiled application they can't manually check every single app for every call to every API."

        Sorry but that's simply not true - Admittedly it's less simple than with uncompiled source code but they must have device emulators for testing - You could even automate the installation and execution of the app, then either have the reviewers use the app or (if you're feeling very clever) automate some sort of fuzzing and then look at the device emulator to see what the app has actually done.

        I agree that on a less controlled system it would be far harder to test but as apple has it so locked down anyway...

        If they don't have something like this in place already, they're missing a trick.

    3. The Other Steve
      Jobs Horns

      Once more with feeling

      "and adds risk to any Apple app store time/money investment."

      Risk, yes. A business risk that was easily forseeable, given the very clear guidelines in the agreements and docs. I know this for a fact, because I have read them, Read them, in fact, with an eye on developing just such an application, and my conclusion was that it would likely not be approved, or would get pulled if it slipped through the approval process, as much for the drain on battery life as anything else. Again, something about which there are pretty clear guidelines.

      If your business goes down the toilet because you failed to take into account the risks inherent in your contractual relationship with a billion dollar marketing company run by a sociopath, that's no one's fault but your own. And bear in mind that every iPhone developer is working under a contract which states (and I'm paraphrasing) "Apple retain the right to yank your app at any time, for any reason, without explanation should The Great Leader throw a strop and decide that a certain class of app is not what he wants on his app store, thank you very much"

      Apple may not be playing 'fair', but they are within the letter of the agreement. Reading through various dev forums, and browsing through the app store it is clear that many developers have absolutely no clue about the regime under which they are working, so I expect a lot more people are going to get burned. That's tough tits for them, they should have taken the time to understand what they're getting into, and with whom.

      ""Imagine a world ..."

      Mmm, and yet that has noticeably failed to happen, hasn't it ? Which Jobs well knew when he spewed that marketing bum gravy. Jobs doesn't believe a word he says to the huddled masses, so why should you ?

      1. Pirate Dave
        Pirate

        Yes...

        imagine if the PC software market had matured under such an oppressive regime back during the '80's. We'd all still be using Visicalc and WordPerfect and developing web servers in BASICA. And every morning we'd all kneel and praise IBM for the blessing of being able to continue working on our 10 MHz PC/XT machines with CGA graphics. Then they'd kick us in the face and tell us the get the fuck back to work. No big deal...

  29. Mikey
    Badgers

    There is no such thing as bad publicity...

    It does seem that the appstore checkers have been a bit lazy recently, they must have had the 'incentive' of being whacked with an iPad if they didnt buck up.

    I do wonder though... if there are undocumented APIs on these devices, is there a reason they cant be hidden from developers, rather than leaving them there for people to use, whether intnetionally or not? It does seem a bit... lax. I dunno, I'm not a coder, so these things just baffle me whatever the case.

    Anyway, I'll be over here with my N900, messing with my wifi scanner :O)

    1. Greg J Preece
      Thumb Up

      N900 FTW!

      Got mine today and it's AWESOME. Installed root access, gave the phone user a password, then installed htop, vim and SSH, connected to my home server, fired up a VNC session, connected to it (just because I could), had a browse around, then shut all that down, and fired up some Doom. Cost of apps: $0.00. Availability of apps: open, always, forever.

      The iPhone can kiss my hairy white arse.

      1. Frank Bough
        FAIL

        1993 called

        ...they want their tedious FPS back.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE: 1993 called

          Actually 2010 just got off the line with 1993. 2010 was wondering if it could borrow some versitility and freedom for a bit, it also wants to know how the fuck it became so crippled.

        2. Greg J Preece

          @Frank

          "...they want their tedious FPS back."

          Hey, it was just the first game I spotted in the repository. I've since installed a bunch of emulators, and I'm looking at porting some of my favourite games into the DOSbox instance I installed on it.

          Man, this thing KICKS ASS.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Vim on a phone?

        Just what the world needs.

        Jesus christ... I wouldn't let it on a PC, never mind anything else.

        At least it's not Emacs...

    2. Andy Dent 2
      Go

      Apple improves violation detection, yawn

      As "the Other Steve" explained so well - you sign a legally binding contract with Apple saying you will not engage in certain behaviours. It seems fairly obvious that Apple have improved their ability to detect such violations and people are now being caught.

      Think of it as the AppStore equivalent of drug cheats in sport - lots of people do it, many get away with it and the authorities periodically make a significant improvement in their ability to catch people with a resulting peak in publicity of folks being caught.

      It doesn't appear to represent any major change in the contract with the AppStore or Apple's attitude no matter whatever beat-up is used by the folks trying to justify themselves. They should consider themselves lucky that Apple don't go after them for the money they gained under a contract violation.

      "Failure to catch you before now" does NOT equate to "endorsement then we changed our minds"!

  30. John Tserkezis

    Muh

    I didn't even wait for my 160G iPod classic to fail before switching over to my properly obsolete Palm Treo. And I'm happy with it. Does that tell you how crappy Apple is?

    I'm giving away the classic, and good luck to the new sucker who wants it. Not my problem anymore.

  31. Neil 7
    Jobs Horns

    Soon be time for developers to walk away from Apple

    Simple, just develop and help popularise a more open platform than this Apple b011ox.

    Speaking of which, MeeGo will be available for the N900[1]

    1. http://meego.com/community/blogs/valhalla/2010/towards-day-one

  32. Annihilator

    Not toooo bad

    Well, at least we're not in the Amazon/Orwell situation where Jobs has managed to hoik them out of existing installations. My copy of WiFinder is working just fine, thanks all the same.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All or your i[pods/phones] are belong to Apple

    They really REALLY have to stop acting like they own the customers hardware or they will one day hace a transport truck load of user-rejected iphones/iPods (touches)/iPads show up on their front lawn.

    We need an evil Steve Jobs icon...

  34. Rick Brasche
    Thumb Down

    and then removed them from phones?

    I had looked into some, but since the system already does that in settings, never went further with it.

    But if I had, and downloaded a free, or even paid app, cupertino would have dropped the remote kill switch and the app would be gone from my phone, no refund, no recourse, no gratuity on the nightstand?

    1. atomicbird

      Um, no

      Actually Rick they did not delete it from people's phones. Better luck next time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        @ atomicbird

        erm...FAIL

        He was asking if they could, not saying that they did.

        The answer is yes, they could and they wouldn't have to re-fund you a penny because they own your ass in the terms and conditions of use.

        They just haven't chose to yet....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      Shhh.....

      So far..

      1. Gulfie
        Stop

        Pulling apps off of people's phones...

        ... will be very difficult to do without somebody deciding to start a class action. t's one thing for Apple to say that you are using your revice outside of the licencing agreement, its another thing entirely for it to be legal for Apple to reach in to your device and modify it. Otherwise I bet we'd see regular bricking of iPhones detected as having been cracked.

  35. atomicbird

    Um, they did give the exact rule

    The Register states that "...Apple has apparently declined to explain exactly what rule the scanning applications are breaking."

    But in the same paragraph a quote from the developer states that "... WiFi Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks..."

    That IS the exact rule. Using private frameworks has always been specifically against the rules of the app store. Apple has made surprise decisions but this is one point they've always been absolutely clear on. Whether one likes it or not, this is a clearly stated rule that a developer should have known about.

  36. PeterGriffin
    Joke

    Stevie says:

    All your Apps are belong to us.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    re It's been in the dev T&Cs since day one

    Yeah its in the T&C's but what really matters is how Apple interprets and enforces the T&C. Also its not a proper contract as apple gets to rewrite it at will and your options are to agree or close up shop.

    For over two years apple has kept silent refusing to clarify this issue despite repeated developer requests for numerous developers. They refused to answer yes or no while approving app after app using undocumented APIs.

    So yeah developers do have a right to feel a little upset over this move and a little frighted that the next rule change might be one that pulls the rug out from under their business.

  38. Bill Cumming
    FAIL

    Their "1984" advert...

    ... Is loooking more and more Ironic every day...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Apple yanks Wi-Fi detectors from iTunes - Boycott

    It's time for a Developer's boycott. If they stick together they will win.

    1. James Butler

      Never a simple advert

      The "1984" trailer wasn't an ad ... it was a mission statement.

      The funny part is that people thought it signified the desire to "Break Free From Big Brother", when in fact it represented Apple's ambition to "Become Big Brother".

  40. Gilbo
    Thumb Up

    They just can't win, can they?

    I agree they shouldn't have allowed these apps to start with, but stop for a moment and imagine a world in which Microsoft, for example, were able to exercise this level of control over the applications published for Windows.

    Apps that refuse to run correctly unless you're an admin = barred.

    Apps that hardwire Docs & Settings locations instead of using system variables = barred.

    Apps that use custom GUIs that don't render correcly under Terminal Services = barred.

    Apps that don't correctly support multi-user environments = barred.

    Apps that update system DLLs instead of using local versions = barred.

    Apps that use undocumented APIs = barred.

    Doesn't sound so bad NOW, does it?

  41. NX1977
    Grenade

    No one's joined the dots yet

    Apple knew what these apps did, and how they did it. It's all part of the process of getti9ng them in the store.

    But no one seems to have linked this action, to yesterday's salvo against HTC and Google.

    So the question is, who owns patents covering scanning for wireless networks automatically? NOT Apple ;)

    Expect more apps that violate non Apple patents to vanish shortly....

  42. TK

    One possible reason

    Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

    There was an article that came out yesterday, on Lifehacker maybe(?), about thieves using wi-fi radio detectors to find laptops that folks had just shutdown and put into their cars.

    If a machine were set up with connection sharing (sharing the wi-fi connection for example), a wi-fi detecting app would make an ipod a quick and cheap way to find such laptops.

    Just a guess.

  43. Heff

    follow the money.

    If wifi scanners catch on, the amount of data and whatnot being bummed around over 3G goes down. which sounds pretty awesome for AT&T, but its pretty bad for apple.

    and why?

    well, right now, Jobsy can point to a big graph with a giant spike that says "look at all these people using your network thanks to our device! please pay us, your exclusive license is up for renewal"

    cutting the app is just another means of protecting projected worth to the consumer (AT&T). Jobs isnt making the Iphone for you, he's making it for the network.

  44. Robin Szemeti
    Jobs Horns

    who wants one of those?

    Here, buy this crappy phone and we'll let you know later what we will allow you to run on it?

    No thanks. You can stuff that one where the squirrel keeps it's nuts.

    This just puts me RIGHT off the iPhone and the rest of the Apple crap ... how long before you can only run Apple approved software on your laptop? oh wait ... ah yes, the iPad .. .the great sanitary-towel come notebook. Remind me not to get one.

  45. Thomas 18
    Thumb Down

    Quite an experience to live in fear isn't it...

    Thats what it is to be a slave

  46. Rob Burke
    Jobs Horns

    I've already downloaded said apps...

    ... they're useful and was surprised to see them in the first place. They can see and connect to weaker wifi ap's that the built in software doesn't see.

  47. Rather Notsay
    Jobs Horns

    Corporate Bastardry

    What is it about large companies that turns them into bastards? Is it because absolute power corrupts absolutely? Micro$oft, G00gle, Apple. Even Jimmy Wales 'turned' when Wiki got large.

  48. Goat Jam
    Alert

    Good greif

    I only just bought Wififofum yesterday too!

  49. Dodgy Dave
    Thumb Down

    Shame on you, El Reg

    Sorry, but the whole premise of this article is full of sh*t.

    "Pretends they were never there" - uh, what? An app is no longer in the shop, like creme eggs or Word 2003, and that's somehow Oceania not being at war with Eurasia?

    "Wi-Fi hotspot detecting applications are the latest on Apple's list of verboten apps" - no, it's apps which use private APIs which are verboten, and they have *always* been so.

    "even developers are being left in the dark" - you have an explanation from a developer, right in front of you.

    Yeah, bad on Apple for letting it in in the first place then having an arbitrary change of mind, but if you really have to froth at the mouth every time this sort of thing happens, I'm deleting you from my bookmarks.

  50. Joe Ragosta

    Other side of the story

    For those of you bashing Apple on this, go right ahead. You clearly don't get it.

    Apple's products all work well together and Apple has created a powerful ecosystem that appeals to millions of people. Their security problems are nearly zero. They do this by controlling the ecosystem with a series of well-defined rules.

    When developers break the rules, all sorts of bad things can happen:

    - Security holes

    - System crashes

    - Software incompatibilities

    - System conflicts

    And so on.

    Apple is smart to stick with what is working - a well-defined, thoroughly-tested development system. If the developers want to go listen to crickets chirp at the Android store, no one is stopping them. But Apple loses if they go around changing their fundamental strategy because of a few developers who think they're above the rules.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Not quite

      Sure, I'm happy with Apple being tight on QA.

      However, you can't run an approval process that RETROSPECTIVE pulls apps. What Apple should have done is contact the relevant developers and give them a chance to change the app or otherwise offer an opportunity not to see their work wasted.

      However, engaging in any sensible dialogue has never been an Apple feature and it frankly starts to piss me off. If I have paid for an app I expect that to be supported by updates (within reason), so if Apple decides to yank the App it removes the whole update chain with it. This is not a process I want dependent what sort of weather surrounds the turtle neck at any given time, thank you.

      If Apple wants to be tight on QA it should start writing PROPER, defined rules, stick some sensible resources into the checking and apply only what it has defined. This "fuck the developer because I got out of bed late today" randomised approach sucks seven ways to Sunday because nobody has any grip on what is and isn't allowed - the moment it's past the gates it's too late.

      This Apps nonsense is what will give Google the traction it needs to get Android properly established, and I think this is competition Apple will need to come to its senses, s as iPhone user I very much welcome Android. I use what works for me, if Apple starts getting in the way I will consider switching. Simple.

    2. Basic
      Stop

      From a [more] neutral point...

      I do understand why Apple controls everything so tightly - It's obviously not for me as I like being able to do whatever I like with my mobile / pc / etc... and if it were ONLY sticking to a hard and fast set of rules, I'd simply avoid them and wish them luck - But there's no consistency.

      Why not allow apps with functionality that overlaps default ones? Why can't I use a browser that is similar to Apple's, complies with all other security/interop guidelines and is better? If the Wi-fi framework is off-limits, a) WHY? and b) why not expose a simplified / limited version that developers CAN use?

      Even worse, why should I be able to write an app, possibly spending months of development time, get it approved, sit back and wait for the money to roll in - to be told a week later that an arbitrary decision by a body which isn't accountable (at least not to anyone except Apple) has ruled that my app is no longer acceptable. Usually with no explanation / warning.

      I do develop software for a lot of platforms (from windows/linux through winmo/Dalvik (Android)) and I wouldn't touch the iPhone with a barge pole - simply because no matter how careful I am, the risks are insanely high.

      It's less of an issue for "fart" apps or similar - they probably only take a day or two to throw together but for any _serious_ application where all the usual considerations are taken into account (UI/Maintainability/Architecture/Interop/etc...) the risks are insanely high.

      If Apple could take a consistent approach to the app store, it would at least mitigate the issues.

      [And now some personal bias - Sorry]

      Frankly I think that anyone who goes with Apple is either following the crowd to be trendy (and I think we'd all agree they can be discounted) or is happy to have a limited set of functionality in exchange for security and ease of use (not my cup of tea but to each their own).

  51. LARPKitten

    Theft Prevention

    This may have something to do with another post I saw about Wi-Fi detectors being actively used by thieves to detect laptops in hidden locations, like car trunks and homes. Personally, I approve of Apple's quick reaction by taking these measures... I feel a little bit safer knowing that not just any yakko with an iPhone can find out where my cheap netbook lives... They just have to pay the $20 for a Wi-Fi detecting pen instead.

  52. charlie wallace
    Big Brother

    uh oh

    I've got a few apps on the appstore that use private frameworks (core graphics), wonder if they'll get noticed :)

    Who cares if an app uses a framework that stops working, it'll get updated and fixed, and if no work around is possible, then no one can do anything about it anway.

    1. Gilbo
      FAIL

      Fool

      Who cares if it stops working!?

      I suspect that most people who downloaded it would care if it stopped working, and more importantly I suspect that Apple would care that people cared that it stopped working, which is why the Apps have been removed.

      Numbskull.

  53. longshot
    Jobs Horns

    "four legs good two legs bad"

    Jobs: Four legs good, two legs better!

    some monopolies are more equal than others

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple are in the wrong, but not for removing those apps

    I strongly suspect they're doing this because another major firmware update is around the corner, and it's going to break these apps

    Blocking private frameworks is understandable, given that anything that relies on them can easily break from one firmware update to the next, as many indeed did for the 3.0 and 3.1 updates. As a programmer, I can tell you that "rolling your own" implementation where a perfectly good one exists already is very bad practice.

    But that's the key phrase: "where one exists already", and in this case, it doesn't. In fact, a hell of a lot is missing from the iPhone's OS, and that's Apple's real problem. This isn't the usual case of developer laziness where they're using a hacky kludge because it's quickly and requires less work than doing it properly; they're are doing it to work around the fact the the OS they're using is unfinished, and leaves them no other choice but to use a shoddy, temporary solution until the required functionality is finally implemented.

    Is Apple wrong in doing something about these apps? No, IMO their reasoning is sound. What Apple are doing wrong is that they're far too slow to implement vital aspects of their OS, to the point where developers even feel the need to resort to this. The action they took in this case was heavy-handed; what they really should have done was to send the authors an email informing them that their app would be removed from the app store when the next firmware update was released, and that they have until then to rewrite their app to use the 3.2/4.0/whatever's new documented APIs and submit an update.

    Of course, that's assuming that the next firmware update even has a proper wifi framework. Really, in 2010, an OS that doesn't have a fully functional wifi API can hardly be called "fit for purpose". Apple would do well to append a "0." to the front of their version numbers.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Apple

    Rotten to the core...

    1. The Other Steve
      Jobs Horns

      But then again

      "Really, in 2010, an OS that doesn't have a fully functional wifi API can hardly be called "fit for purpose" "

      That very much depends on your (or rather Apple's) purpose, doesn't it ?

  56. Mr Brush
    Jobs Horns

    Apple products just work?

    Yes, yes, we know that most Appletards just want to have the latest shiney-pretty thing and can't troubleshoot their way out of a wet paper bag. So Jobs Almighty has a duty to stamp on naughty apps to stop his glassy eyed userbase from having 'future problems' with their overhyped e-penises.

    However, users should have the choice to install these things that give functionality that the all powerful kidney thief didn't think to provide. They are not children, they do not need to be protected from themselves.

  57. sleepy

    It's probably about privacy and security

    There will soon be 100 million iPhone platform devices deployed, and each holds more detailed real time knowledge of someone's private life than any PC. What a target. Apple is rightly paranoid about this ending with the kind of out-of-control disgrace that Microsoft's Windows platform continues to be, (e.g. allowing the hijacking of millions of PC's in botnets).

    It appears some apps have been logging GPS+WiFi data to their servers, to create parallel databases to skyhookwireless.com like placeengine.com, bypassing the privacy and security controls of the iPhone OS Location Services (which I believe uses skyhookwireless). We geeks have already got our WiFifofum apps, which will continue to work, and we can always jailbreak, register as iPhone developers, or carry a more geeky and hackable pocket device. Apple seems to be taking the cautious approach of saying that the low level WiFi data currently being extracted from the OS is off-limits for app store apps. Innocent local-only wifi detector apps have become roadkill in a decision to ban a larger category.

    So far I haven't seen Apple doing anything that isn't in end user interests on a hundred million strong consumer platform. But I'm certainly as vigilant of Apple's actions as I can be, given my limited, but above average, knowledge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Then don't buy one!

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/flame_32.png

      Hey, I don't see Jobs holding a gun to your head to buy an Iphone. If you don't like it, don't buy it and quit whining like a 4 year-old. And I don't mean YOU personally. I mean everyone who doesn't like Iphone or whatever. And I don't have an Iphone, just in case someone thinks I do.

  58. awright69

    Still one more reason

    to NOT buy those silly little Apple products. Anyone with half a head can find quite capable alternatives from other manufacturers.

  59. Rolf Howarth
    Alert

    Big brother?

    I must admit I'm a bit confused where all this vitriol about Apple being Big Brother is coming from.

    Remotely removing apps you've already bought? No, Apple have never done that, and are very unlikely to, if they even can. You're thinking of Amazon I suspect. All they're doing is changing what is for sale through their store (just like when Tesco decides to stop stocking a particular line on their shelves).

    The fact that you can't run arbitrary software on the iPhone? The iPhone isn't, and never was, sold as a general purpose computer. It's an appliance, and no different from any one of a myriad of other closed platforms (eg. Wii, DS, PSP, Nokia, etc.) where you can only run approved software. Are they all Big Brother as well?

    In actual fact, the iPhone is a lot MORE OPEN than many devices. You can play music on it ripped from any CD or downloaded from any MP3 site, you can run any standards compliant Web 2.0 web app, play any standards compiant MPEG4 video on it, developers can very easily create and distribute apps for it without having to pay $5000 or $10000 for an SDK, etc.

    Sure, you can do the same sort of thing on most other devices now, but that certainly didn't use to be the case. The success of the iPod and iPhone have actually done a HUGE amount to open up mobile platforms over the very closed and proprietary world we used to be in just 2 or 3 years ago.

    And finally, don't forget that nothing is forcing anyone to buy from Apple. There's plenty of healthy competition from all sorts of other vendors, depending on exactly what kind of device you're after. So why exactly should Apple be singled out as being so evil?

  60. bobzilla (wigle.net)

    No app for that

    At the Wireless Geographic Logging Engine ( http://wigle.net ), a database and mapping system for "Net Stumbling" or "War Driving" hobbyists, we've seen the iPhone provide a low barrier-to-entry for this hobby. It combines a GPS with a Wifi radio, but it can only work when apps like Wifi-Where, WiFiFoFum and others are allowed to exist.

    These apps were inspected for months before finally getting through the nebulous App Store approval process. Some have been available for months or even years. Now, arbitrarily, they are banned. If they use API calls that Apple didn't want them to, why were they approved? Why weren't the developers contacted behind the scenes to address any fiddly technical issues Apple might foresee?

    As users all we see is a useful app, that was paid for, that now can not be updated. We can't find the least used frequency channels to set our access points to, can't take surveys of campus wireless coverage or find rogue wifi on a corporate network. And we can't help with wireless mapping projects. There's no app for that.

    1. stevenjklein

      Answer for Bobzila

      Bobzila asks, "If they use API calls that Apple didn't want them to, why were they approved?"

      Because, for a long time, Apple relied on developers to be honest, and to adhere to the terms of their developer agreements. Back in November Apple deployed an automated tool that checks submitted apps for private APi use.

      Now it seems they're going back and checking apps submitted prior to that. Developers know the rules. They're just whining about the fact that they've been caught.

  61. voshkin
    Jobs Horns

    Blackberry

    I got two phones, Blackberry and Iphone.

    one business, one private.

    well, with recent blackberry models, I am using Iphone less and less.

    - and with this case, my blackberry 9700 has a very good WIFI app, that offers excellent site survey.

    and it's free ;-)

  62. WheresWardy
    Jobs Horns

    This isn't difficult

    The rule is, you can't use private frameworks. There's no big conspiracy here, you agree to it when you agree to develop apps in the first place. This is just basic house-cleaning.

  63. Waffles666
    FAIL

    why is this an issue

    There should be no issue here if you bought an iphone you knew apple controlled what you could do with your phone and dictates how you use it. If your not happy go buy another phone there are better alternatives like nexus one, motorola droid, htc hd2 etc...

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    @Mr Brush

    "However, users should have the choice to install these things that give functionality that the all powerful kidney thief didn't think to provide. They are not children, they do not need to be protected from themselves."

    The issue isn't if users can or can't install these WIFI apps, it's the fact that the apps are disobeying the developer agreement.

    Furthermore, people who use these phones will certainly ACT like children and when their phone runs stupid slow because they forgot to monitor their RAM usage, and close out programs. Or when they only get an hour of battery life because they use a program that while full of features, is poorly designed and hogs processor resources.

    The "Appletards" surely can troubleshoot, but the point is: Who would even *want* a phone that you need to troubleshoot?!

  65. Bryan W
    Jobs Horns

    Ugh

    Yet another reason why Apple shouldn't be (and hopefully will lose the priveledge of) leading the handheld revolution.

    Just wish Motorola didn't fail so hard with the Droid. You'd think at least one open hardware manufacturer would be smart enough to make a device that at least has comprable hardware features to an iPhone. I mean, c'mon... No multi-touch? Just wow... Nothing less is going to dethrone Apple. This technology has too much potential to be hindered by their BS proprietary money-making strategies. For now, I guess all us mobile software developers just have to deal with it; But I'm never going to like it.

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