Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

On Goodwill With Apple, as Currency

Daniel Jalkut has, as usual, a very intelligent take on that ridiculous controversy about whether developers and commenters withhold criticisms of Apple in order to stay in their good graces. But I found this part most telling:

As a company, Apple doesn’t care about individual developers. This works both ways of course: they don’t go out of their way to help, but also don’t go out of their way to harm. When a developer benefits or suffers at the hands of Apple, I believe it’s always thanks to either a wide-sweeping corporate policy that affects all developers, or to an individual at the company whose everyday choices on the job can have a profound impact. An editor who chooses to feature an app on the store, for example, or a reviewer who chooses to notice and raise a fuss about a slightly non-compliant behavior in an app.

There are at least two ways to look at this, and neither are incorrect. On the one hand, it’s great that Apple is made of people who, collectively, generally support developers as a group, but don’t pick on particular developers.

But then there are enough cases where a single individual can make decisions that are so maddeningly inconsistent with precedent that it can ruin any developer’s day. Sometimes, it’s when they reject an app from an indie developer for breaking rules that don’t exist. Other times, it’s when they allow apps from massive developers that fly in the face of actual rules.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: it isn’t the App Store rules themselves that are frustrating for developers, but the inconsistent way in which they are enforced. If Apple wanted to disallow buttons or other interactivity in Notification Centre widgets, that’s fine, as long as it’s in writing and enforced consistently. It obviously limits what developers are able to do, but if there are an agreed-upon set of rules, it’s easy for them to know what to invest their time into building. When a rule is not written, and when it is only sometimes enforced, profoundly stupid things happen.