The author claiming it's because Apple is trying to eliminate competition forgot to mention any of the above very important reasons. They also forgot to mention that what they were doing was clearly against the app store guidelines which they had agreed to.
Looks like Apple released this info in a press release. NYT's poor journalism got called out too:
One could argue that Apple should provide an API which lets developers access to this data. Apple might be working on that or maybe they won't because Apple has a strict "privacy" policy and providing such sensitive data can be prone to being used by bad actors.
- Is this permitted within Apple's T&C's?
- What are the privacy issues? More so if I'm not fully informing my users we're intercepting their data via VPN (I don't know if that's made clear via author's T&C's or during installation)
- Even if all of the above were not concerns, am I able to properly secure user's data (against say state actors)
....even before going ahead and developing an app such as this.
Operating a VPN isn't any different than an ISP. Should that be a concerns for ISP too?
Most traffic nowadays is over HTTPS either way, so if that was even a concern, the ISP or VPN wouldn't be the cause of it, but the actual communication in itself.
> We could set up a VPN service and analyze the traffic passing through our servers to learn which social media services mobile devices were communicating with, and using this data we could estimate the time spent on different services and block access to them when users exceeded their self-determined limits.
I mean, I use VPN services all the time. But doing that for an app to track social media usage? That's at least crazy, and arguably deceptive.
but, wouldn't a local 'fake' vpn be enough to capture all that locally on the phone? there is no need to send traffic to a remote server for this purpose. or does apple not allow that? it works fine on android.
Am I missing something?
> In addition to tracking the time spent on social media apps, we needed to implement the feature to block those apps when the user reached the configured time limit.
But "block those apps" is a perfectly sensible description of "blocking tcp certain connections at VPN level" and thus a very different statement to "stop you from opening an app".
Please actually check what was said before you pretend to quote someone.
But to think Apple - the company that had implemented copy and paste on Macs 23 years before then wasn’t thinking about copy and paste until they saw it on jailbroken phones is silly.
It’s equally crazy thinking that Apple didn’t think about implementing a standard phone feature until they saw in the jail broken apps.
He also said that you could make great apps by using the web. Until they turned around and introduced a native SDK nine months later....
Are you now going to say they “stole” the idea of an App Store from the few developers who were putting apps on jailbroken iPhones between July 2007 and April 2008?
> A month before being removed from the App Store, the app raked in ~$45,000 in revenue. This means the product was operating at a $500,000 annual run rate.
It's an extrapolation, from the first month.
I see this trend quite frequently, only mentioning revenue but leaving out costs.
Apple actually had to lock out Twitter and other apps from logging what other apps were on your phone for analytics.
IMHO, it was great!
b) Advertisers could use it to personally identify you.
c) Criminals could use it to blackmail you e.g. using Tinder app whilst married.
Their OS should permit VPNs and businesses running through VPNs, or they are in many ways doing the same thing that Google is doing with its changes to Chrome that break ad-blockers. In other words, they are removing options for users that want to have insight and control into their Internet usage.
Settings -> General -> VPN.
But the article even said the company got the idea from Onava. A company that tracked your app usage and sold the data and that was bought by Facebook.
Why would you want a third party to control your device?
However this was a VPN in an attempt to get around a limitation/restriction of the OS.
Especially recently, I have had an issue with user choice. Since I feel like many (Google and Facebook largely, but apps like this on a smaller scale) don't fully communicate to a user what is actually happening to their data.
Most of us here are technical and just seeing "all data through a vpn" know what that means, vast majority of people would not.
The whole point of computing is to work with interesting data and process it somehow.
It's up to the user whether he allows the app to both access interesting data and the network, or only allows the apps that can work with the data locally.
Also, this API would be much less sensitive than allowing apps to access contacts list, or whatever, for which the API already exists.
The whole purpose of computing is not to have access to all of your private information and to analyze it and sell it to third parties. They even admitted that their business model was fashioned after Onava’s that did just that and was bought by Facebook.
Even if Apple did provide such an API, the app in question also blocked access to social media apps via the VPN. My head would explode if Apple allowed apps to exercise direct control over others apps in such a fashion.
The potential for abuse and erosion of user trust seems orders of magnitude larger than the apps we are missing out on by not having such an API.
I'm not sure what user trust you're talking about, though. Apple allowed shady VPN tracking/blocking apps in the past and users used them.
My position is one of a cost/benefit ratio. VPNs have a lot of good use cases (enterprise networking, privacy from shady networks, etc) that outweigh the potential for harm.
Good use cases for apps exercising control over others are screen time monitors and parental controls? Maybe I’m being unimaginative, but that’s a narrow band of functionality better served by OS-level features.
Where do you think you are?
For example they talk about getting their first users, techniques they tried for growth (ads, influencers, etc), and revenue streams. All matters of keen interest to anyone considering a startup/app.
I happen to agree with Apple on squishing this app. But I still find the blog worth while.
This is exactly what patents are supposed to protect you from. If you have a good idea, then file a patent and protect yourself. If it’s worth $500k per year then it’s worth having a patent lawyer help you do it right. Get the core stuff patented, not just the fluff. This way Apple can’t just pull your livelihood from you.
If you tried to patent your idea and it wasn’t patentable, then it’s probably not really your idea, and you can’t feel bad when Apple steals something that isn’t yours.
But you have to do this sooner rather than later. If you wait until your app has become a feature in iOS then it’s too late.
Want proof that patents are necessary? Just look at how many patents that Apple, Samsung, SpaceX, etc. have.
Apple isn't tunneling everything through a VPN to track it.
Same reason snapchat couldn't patent their stories or disappearing messages ideas and got copied by FB and Instagram.
The problem is that of security, and any app of the sort needs too many permissions over other apps. The VPN solution poses a big security risk to users as well. This really only makes sense as a first party feature.
Now, the part where Apple removed their app from their AppStore I find more strange. Was it breaking any of their rules?
The rule against using VPNs to gather usage data, which apparently is new.
"We decided to take a similar approach."
Pot. Kettle. Black.
(or rake in millions when you can to sustain for few more months)
Or does that not fit your narrative ?
Fits the narrative precisely.
We can do this all day. Many of the top tech companies we have today exist because of mobile apps.
Apple didn't copy their app, they copied Android's.
Second, the VPN thing is shaddy AF. I understand this is a workaround but shit, they could be doing some nasty stuff with MITM attacks. No wonder Apple took it down once it was clear how it worked.
Apple did this in the 90's with peripherals such as video boards which at the time (80's/90's) were products that you almost always had to buy from a third party. Then Apple built them right into the hardware themselves. There is zero wrong with any company 'business' doing this. If you think there is you are not a business person. (Even if the competitors products are removed from the 'store').
No, this means you had a revenue of $45k over one month (congrats! It’s a number to be proud of in itself). This artificial extrapolation of sales data to get attention grabbing headlines is so frustrating.
They released it, then iterated on it for 1.5 years, at the end of which they were generating $45k a month. If anything, there's reason to believe it'd have topped the $500k. There's no guarantees but I don't think it was disingenuous to extrapolate in this case.
Then put her name in the byline!
That's an incredibly fast build time!
Very easy if the tooling is good, the testing is easy (only a few device types) and it's only one target platform.
Isn't this one of the things Apple was upset at Facebook over (including the fact that they went around the App Store) since they don't allow this sort of tracking?
So maybe them building the feature is not the only reason they removed your app?
This is an abuse of market position in one market to expand in another, and has a long term negative effect on the health of the industry if only the large players that own the ecosystem can profit from it.
I don't see anything wrong here. They just got a really frustrating outcome.
Can’t wait to hear the same complaint from authors of period tracker apps, once iOS 13 is released with the built-in period tracker.
Just kidding. But it seems that it’s the same mindset that likes the government replacing, say, private insurers, ISPs and other private enterprise.
As for me, I do not consider giant publicly traded corporations “private” any more than cities or states.
Either you remove it because it's against the TOS, anytime in the 1.5 years that the app existed, or leave it be. Don't 'coincidentally' remove it the same week you release a competing app. That's just nonsense.
The app had paying users, it clearly had value to some people.
There are even Siri Intents for most of them and many more in iOS 13.
This is about how anti virus makers threaten to sue MS because they wouldn’t allow the right hooks into the OS that destabilized it.