Apple has banned a popular app for programmers from its app store, as well as deleted the app developer’s account, the developer says.
The app, called Dash, is for Macs and iOS. It’s been around for years. It lets developers easily find and insert snippets of code that they frequently use.
The situation has caused a lot of angst among the developer community because Apple at first didn’t tell the app’s developer, Bogdan Popescu, why the app was removed or why his account was shut down.
After the story blew up on Hacker News, a site where developers post and discuss news of interest to them, more details emerged. Apple apparently told Popescu that the problem was “evidence of App Store review manipulation.”
He wrote in his blog post:
“A few hours ago I received a “Notice of Termination” email, saying that my account was terminated due to fraudulent conduct. I called them again and they said they can’t provide more information. Update: Apple contacted me and told me they found evidence of App Store review manipulation. This is something I’ve never done. Apple’s decision is final and can’t be appealed.”
The app probably did have a lot of positive reviews. App developers really liked it. As one wrote on Hacker News:
“Really love Dash. Hope it gets straightened out.”
While Popescu can distribute and update the Mac version via his own website, he’s pretty much hosed when it comes to a paid version of iOS Dash. He said in a tweet that he’s now thinking of “open sourcing” the iOS version, which means share the code with everybody and possibly means also giving it away for free via a site like Github.
Some developers see this as an example of why they are wary of Apple and shouldn’t trust Apple with their apps and their livelihoods.
As Thom Holwerda wrote on the tech blog OSNews:
“Dash is quite a popular tool among Apple developers, and it seems incredibly unlikely that its developer would need to resort to manipulate App Store reviews … all this – again, sadly – illustrates what I’ve been saying for years: building your business atop Apple’s iOS or Mac App Store is a terrible business decision. You are completely and fully at Apple’s whim.”
Holwerda isn’t alone in his frustration. Lots of it was spilled on that Hacker News discussion.
For instance one person complained, “Apple’s arrogance in running their store may eventually cause it’s decline.”
And another added:
“Arrogance is exactly the right word. Arrogance that is not justified at all by their execution lately. Developers were willing to look the other way while the app store gold rush lasted but those days are long over and it’s increasingly looking like a Faustian bargain sold cheap.”
Neither Apple nor Bogdan Popescu could be immediately reached for comment.