We reported last week about Apple removing the vast majority of apps from iTunes that they considered contained too much “adult orientated” material. Over the weekend we also took a look at how Apple were removing some WiFi Signal Finder apps from iTunes (otherwise known as “Stumblers”). This second case was clearly to do with those apps using Private Frameworks. Apple has always been very clear that they do not allow this. So this latter ‘scare’ was simply a case of them catching a few apps that had previously slipped through the cracks. Today we are hearing that Apple are starting to tackle another problem in the App Store. That of “Cookie Cutter” Apps.
“Cookie Cutter” applications are those that are built from templates using one of the many app-building utilities or services that have sprung up over the last year or so. These services enable designers to easily author iPhone and iPod Touch apps without getting their “hands dirty” actually writing code. One example of the services people can use to build their apps is Appmakr. Greenversation (iTunes Store) is one such app built using their service.
If Apple are actually looking to remove this style of software entirely then it would be a major change in App Store policy. However, on closer inspection that doesn’t seem to be the case. Unlike the recent almost overnight banishing of “sexy apps” from iTunes, Apple has been reaching out to some of these “Cookie Cutter” app-building companies to try and tell them what is and is not acceptable, before problems occur. Some of the more reputable companies involved in these kinds of products, like Appmakr (mentioned above) appear to be talking with Apple to ensure that they provide a base line of quality and content for products their services make. Some less reputable ones seem to be on the out. Apple for their part seem simply to be insisting that Apps must be worthwhile. One problem that some see there is that developers’ opinions on what is worthwhile, and Apple’s measure of worthwhile may not necessarily agree.
It should be noted that, at the moment, “Cookie Cutter” apps that are already approved, and in the App Store, are not being culled. However, anyone submitting new one are finding the hurdles they need to negotiate to be approved a little harder. By harder it seems that their programs need to serve some purpose other than being a simple RSS feed or electronic business card!
This seems fair enough. Without this initiative the App Store is in some danger of becoming Google Ads in app form. It seems that Apple are getting pro-active and want to head this possibility off at the pass.
With the iPad only weeks away, and the maturing of the App Store, Apple seem to be looking for ways to actively reduce the number of “spammy” or controversial pieces of software inhabiting iTunes. Overall this seems to be a good thing. The only downside, as some other bloggers have already pointed out is that all these changes with little or no notice may make developers nervous of what other decisions Apple will make further down the line…
At the moment though the headlong rush of developers and ideas to the App Store doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. Quite the opposite in fact. Things seem to be accelerating as developers rush to embrace the new opportunities and greater scope for applications that the coming iPad promises.
Are you sick of wading through “spammy apps”? Or do you think Apple is being too heavy handed?