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My own experience with this was that once I included a description of an OS bug I worked around in the changelog of my apps and the reviewers made me remove it with almost exactly the same verbiage–I can’t remember if they actually said “irrelevant” but the summary was “this information is not useful to your users” (edit: I tried to go look this up but App Store Connect is down at the moment :/). I claimed it was, they wouldn’t budge, I took it out. Apple claiming the inclusion of things that make them look bad being “irrelevant” is sadly a known practice for many years and one of the worst ways that the App Store can stifle people from even talking about highly relevant information Apple doesn’t particularly like.



Wow, that story made me more angry than it should have. Why the heck should Apple be allowed to police your own app's changelog?

"Because they can" is probably the reason.


The way Apple distinguishes itself from the masses of cheap phone manufacturers with their ultra low margins is through its premium brand. The idea that Apple "just works" is part of this brand, and they fight against any claim that it doesn't, even if it's true. It's very important to them to push the idea that their operating systems are the best ones available into the brains of their users. In some industries, like the music production industry, if you don't have an Apple device, you'll be laughed out of the room. The brand is probably the single most valuable asset that Apple possesses.


Well, that’s absolutely bullcrap now since they allowed low quality ad-infested apps and clones take over the store.


[flagged]


Hyperbole much?


Please, could we stop using analogies using Nazi terminology whenever we strongly disagree with someone? As a consequence of Hitlers actions, hundreds of millions of people died. As a consequence of Apple's actions, many people are upset. The two aren't comparable. When I hear Nazi analogies every day, these words become meaningless.


1000 dead: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_Belarus

more than 450 documented cases of torture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_issues_related_to...

Apple's censorship of Telegram is condoning this.


I agree with your sentiment for this particular case but think it's crazy that you're saying Apple is condoning this when this exact same rule would have protected and prevented against situations where innocent people were on the receiving end of this information. Reddit screwed up big time, for example, when the mob went after the wrong person during the Boston bombing and people got hurt. What if the wrong person is identified? What if the identifying information is wrong? Yes, there's a moral component to all of this but there's also a precedent that you're setting and I doubt Apple wants to be in the role of deciding whether this personal info is the "right" personal info to be out there.


The whole point is that they shouldn’t be deciding at all. You can walk over to your neighbors and share that info, you can post it on Reddit, you can post it on Telegram. If it’s wrong or not should be decided by the law and community policies, not the device manufacturer.


Umm... it was. That's literally the entire issue being discussed her. The Belarusian government and law enforcement decided it was wrong and asked the developer and Apple to remove those posts.


I realize what protesters do is the only semi-peaceful way of delaing with police brutality. On the other hand, these people whose photos gets published often receive threats (and their families too). Basically the people publishing and distributing these images are responsible for what happens next. I understand Apple would prefer not to participate in this.


> I understand Apple would prefer not to participate in this.

Apple is a legal person and has to make a moral judgment call.

It made the wrong one.


It's not "your own app". It's Apple's Experience, and you are paid a commission on revenue generated by code you write for Apple to use. You are like a screenwriter or set deeigner, Apple is the director and producer.


This is actually a funny and interesting way to look at it.

This might be a way for Apple to continue doing what they do and get away with it.

(AFAIK: It is not what they currently say so they'll have to change their terms and conditions before they use this in court ;-)


You also don't own the device.


Have you never heard an inexperienced developer incorrectly blame the platform or the tools for their own bugs?


Yes, so what? It comes back to the other article on HN about YouTube arbitrating truth. Apple should not be able to dictate what goes in my changelog. If I believe it's relevant info for my userbase that I'm working around some Clang compiler bug with some change, I should be able to say it. What kind of dystopian platform is Apple running where police have to look through everything you type about your own product to make sure you haven't written any thoughtcrimes?


Apple can’t dictate what goes in your changelog.

What we are talking about here is the App Store release notes, on Apple’s site and storefront. They can indeed dictate what goes there. The fact that release notes are even displayed there is because they made a facility for that.

You can publish your changelog on your own website.


I’m failing to see the distinction you’re drawing between a changelog and release notes?


One is a business communication made via the App Store, and the other is something you can publish wherever you choose.


Sure, but in spirit I would put the same information in both. Apple's rules on that field are just strange–when a new version of iOS goes into GM out you cannot mention it in your release notes (added support for iOS 14!), which really just makes no sense. It's presented as a place to put your update notes except it's really a strange field where you put something that is similar to your update notes but edited to comply with unwritten guidelines that Apple has created that you can only really know if you read Twitter and see what kinds of things Apple will let you put there.


True - I’d generally want to put the same information in both, but there are many companies that don’t.

One is part of the retail store experience, and the other is a kind of technical note. It depends a lot on what kind of developer you are and what kind of product you make whether these are the same.


One is for end users to tell them what's new in this release vs. the last. The other is for technical purposes to document the specific technical changes from one version to the next. They're not the same thing.


> the other is something you can publish wherever you choose.

Apple has designed an illegal system, and the DOJ is going to break them up or force them to open wide. The hoops they make people jump through are ridiculous and entirely unfair. They've made people bark like a seal for far too long.


Whether true or not, this is irrelevant to the thread.

But worth pointing out that almost all storefronts control what they allow vendors to write there.

There is nothing illegal about this, and if this is making people bark like a seal, all retailers and all app stores do it.


Exactly. Walmart very well could tell their suppliers "You can't put a paper within the box saying that the price is $5 more since our logistics software misplayed your deliveries for a whole month" even if it's true.


> What kind of dystopian platform is Apple running where police have to look through everything you type about your own product to make sure you haven't written any thoughtcrimes?

What do you mean? Do you think it would be fair for Apple to allow developers to serve change logs with racial slurs or political conspiracies to young users? Literal toddlers interact with the App Store on a daily basis. The release notes are not a place to spew bile, so obviously they must be moderated to some degree. We can argue over the acceptability of them trying to blame their failings onto an innocent developer (if that was actually the case), but obviously you should not be allowed to type whatever you want in a text field that gets served to their customers.


On the other hand, the most recent Duolingo update reads:

"""Our mascot owl, Duo, is trading in his usual diet of mice for bugs this week. Yup, we’re squashing those pesky bugs to make the experience better for all of you.

For more Duolingo news, contests and product releases, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @duolingo."""

which doesn’t exactly scream “user-relevant information” to me, but does say “this is PR”.


This is the format of almost every mainstream app update now - completely devoid of any useful information. If this is what Apple wanted why even keep it around?


Yeah and I've never felt the need to go make a policy for them to not be allowed to do that.


Sure but I presume you aren’t running a platform like Apple’s.


That reminds of authoritarian governments (in fact I am living in a country which has one, right now).

It starts with things they don't you to say and goes towards things you are forced to say.


From a different angle, this also looks like the app reviewing team has no access or visibility into the bug tracking system for the OS release and is also unqualified to triage issues. If that were true, then it's either they assume the developer's claim is true or assume that the developer's claim is false. Combined with management that's not supportive of assertiveness and decisiveness, they would just always side with "Apple is always right and can have no bugs".

Seriously Apple, if you're ever reading what others say about the App Store and its review process and policies, it's way past high time to repent and change things around, even if it means firing some people who are inflexible.


> I tried to go look this up but App Store Connect is down at the moment

This information is not relevant in this context. Please remove it.


One of the problems is that most of what people call ‘bugs’ or relevant ‘information’ about Apple is actually false.

It’s easy to see the scenario in which developers simply blame a large proportion of the bugs in their own apps on Apple.

But - I agree this is a serious problem. There does need to be a way for real platform bugs and other issues to be discussed in public.


Nope, mine was certainly a bug in Apple’s tooling (and perhaps a beta OS release, I think?) and this prevented me from running tests for some platforms. I actually wrote it all up here, if you’re interested: https://saagarjha.com/blog/2019/01/11/mocking-capabilities-i...


For sure - I am not saying it was your fault, and the fact that it wasn’t makes it especially galling.

What I’m saying is that Apple is contending with a lot of developers who are not as experienced or conscientious as you, and you are being impacted because their rules don’t distinguish this.


Exactly. I can see a million scenarios where a developer blames Apple for a bug in their app and puts it in the notes and then it turns out not to be anything related to Apple. Apple isn't going to get into a catfight with every developer who thinks their issue comes from a bug whether it does or not.


> It’s easy to see the scenario in which developers simply blame a large proportion of the bugs in their own apps on Apple.

In Mac apps that use Sparkle for updates (lots of them), developers can put whatever they want in changelogs. I've definitely seen entries that go something like "Did XYZ to work around a bug in macOS Kitty Cat."

I can't say whether these changelogs were accurate, but they don't appear to have brought about armageddon.


Developers who use sparkle are generally a lot more experienced than many people who put apps in the App Store.

That is by design. The App Store lowers the bar to entry and enables people who otherwise wouldn’t publish software to do so.


> One of the problems is that most of what people call ‘bugs’ or relevant ‘information’ about Apple is actually false.

Is that actually a problem? Many other platforms have no such restrictions, and you don't see developers blaming bugs on the OS en masse.

It honestly just doesn't seem to matter at all. The only reason Apple seem to be doing it, is that they can, and simply aren't able to stop themselves from being excessively controlling.


Sure but for what it’s worth, Apple isn’t in the same position as other platforms in many ways, so we can’t always generalize.

People don’t care about problems other platforms have the way there care about Apple, and the media gets to make money out of the slightest issue.

This is a consequence of their market position.

That said, I do agree with you to some degree.

Control is definitely a tool they reach for by default, and they need to learn some new methods as we see the limits exposed by issues like this.


> Sure but for what it’s worth, Apple isn’t in the same position as other platforms in many ways, so we can’t always generalize.

How? I see absolutely no difference other than millions in publicity to create the illusion that their platform is somehow "better"... But none of Apple's platforms were created by aliens, they have the same error ratio as any other large platform. So what exactly are you basing this statement on?


I’m not convinced that all platforms have the exact same error ratio - that would be interesting if supported by research.

But that’s irrelevant.

My statement isn’t a comment on Apple’s error ratio.

It’s a statement about how people respond to what they see as the market leader.

People care about problems with Apple in a way that they don’t with other players, because they are perceived as better. There is money to be made in trying to tear Apple down. That’s just part of the dynamics of the attention economy.

Whether this is just a function of spending on marketing, seems highly unlikely.

My understanding is that Google and the Android manufacturers as a whole far outspent Apple in the early years of the iPhone, and didn’t end up with the same perception.

In any case, however it was achieved, we do agree that they are perceived differently to the other players, and this is what my comment is based on.


I should have been clearer. My point is not whether there's any basis to Apple being better or not, most everyone knows that's impossible because the average Apple engineer is no better than the average engineer in the rest of FAANG or Microsoft or [insert pretty much every other large company here].

My point is that it's completely irrelevant to the discussion. That Apple fans think Apple is better in no way justifies the practices mentioned in TFA, so their "perception by others in comparison" is not really here nor there.

At least as far as I can see, I could be wrong of course.


Nowhere am I saying anything is justified.

Average developer quality isn’t going to be the only factor in defect rate. Development process, strategy, technology and management all play a role, and my impression is that all of the major players have had varying defect rates over different era of their development.

But indeed that’s not relevant.

But - I’m not talking about ‘Apple fans’. I’m talking about the public perception.

Apple is obviously treated differently from the other players, when it comes to media coverage.

That isn’t a justification for anything - I have in more than one place said I agree that with Gruber that Apple is wrong to do this.

However it does rebut the argument that things that don’t hurt other companies wouldn’t hurt Apple, and it may partially explain their choices.


If by "hurt" you mean that people would stop believing that Apple is better and instead would be looked at with the same standard as every other company[0], then I don't see any problem with people no longer believing that impossibility. But I guess that's a different discussion.

[0]: Assuming that the idea that Apple is, right now, treated any differently by anyone other than its fans has any merit to it, of course.


Apple is clearly treated by the media differently than other companies, in both positive and negative ways.

Sure you don’t see any reason why apple shouldn’t have the perception of them ‘hurt’.

But that’s not the point - the point is that Apple doesn’t want the perception of themselves to be hurt, and so they are going to act accordingly.




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