Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘Developers’

Apple Further Explains Why iGBA Was Removed From App Store ➝

Joe Rossignol, reporting for MacRumors:

Notably, Apple confirmed to us that emulators on the App Store are permitted to load ROMs downloaded from the web, so long as the app is emulating retro console games only. Apple also said it had approved iGBA’s functionality, before learning that it was a knockoff app, suggesting that Game Boy emulation is permitted on the App Store, but the company has yet to share any other examples of retro game consoles.

I learned about iGBA on the App Store when Retro Game Corps published a YouTube short highlighting it. I was going to write about it here on Monday and discovered that it had been removed.

I’m happy to learn that there wasn’t a mixup in app review and that emulators are allowed. I think there’s some question about what Apple considers to be “retro” emulation, though.

My suspicion is that Apple isn’t going to make an explicit decision on this and will, instead, rely on their policy of restricting access to JIT to limit what their hardware is capable of emulating.

Without access to JIT, current emulators that are available through sideload are only able to emulate up to PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Sega Saturn for home consoles and PSP and some Nintendo 3DS for handheld consoles.

Regardless, though, I look forward to seeing more emulators make their way onto the App Store.

➝ Source: macrumors.com

Apple’s New Rule for Emulators on iOS ➝

From Apple’s App Review Guidelines:

Additionally, retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games. You are responsible for all such software offered in your app, including ensuring that such software complies with these Guidelines and all applicable laws.

When I first saw the email announcing this change last night, I saw the word “emulators” and may have jumped to conclusions about what this would mean.

I suppose it’s still possible that emulators like RetroArch and PPSSPP would be allowed, but it seems like the rule could imply that this is just for retro game collections that allow for downloading of more games within the app. More like Sega releasing a Sonic the Hedgehog collection that utilizes emulation or a game developer that wants their homebrew NES game available on iOS.

I suspect someone will test the rule and see exactly where the line is drawn, but I get the feeling we’ll still need sideloading to have what we think of as “emulation” on iOS.

➝ Source: developer.apple.com

A Sour Solution ➝

Michael Tsai:

Microsoft got in trouble for bundling their browser with the OS and for preventing resellers from pre-installing competing browsers. They never interfered with other companies making their apps available. Apple doesn’t let resellers pre-install apps and does prevent certain apps (including third-party browser engines) from even being available.

What Apple has done by locking down the platform is far worse than anything Microsoft ever did with Windows.

It hurts users, it hurts developers, and I think it hurts the platform overall. Imagine how much more powerful our pocket computers could be if, for example, the folks at Panic were afforded the freedom necessary to make Transmit and Coda work on iOS.

How many developers gave up on an incredible idea because they knew it would never be approved by Apple, because the business model just wouldn’t work without the ability to sell upgrades, or because it wouldn’t be feasible with Apple taking a 30% cut of the revenue?

➝ Source: mjtsai.com

Reddit’s API Pricing

Apollo on iPad

I’m going to share, what I expect to be, a controversial opinion about the new API pricing from Reddit. Not because I’m some big fan of Reddit — I follow a single subreddit through RSS and only do so because that same information isn’t easily digestible from anywhere else.

I would prefer that everyone leave Reddit and move to the open web for distributed, open source, community-run alternatives. We’ve allowed the current crop of social media companies to overstay their welcome. We should have all moved on from Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the bunch years ago.

But — brace yourself — I don’t think Reddit’s new API pricing is catastrophic for the third-party app ecosystem.

We can quibble about whether or not developers need to pay their “fair share” and what exactly “fair” would be in this context, but it seems to me that you can still build a third-party Reddit client that is economically feasible with this new pricing. But these third-party developers would need to charge more than they currently do.

We’ll look at Apollo here since that’s the app I’m most familiar with and the one that’s received the most attention throughout this within my circle.

Christian Selig, writing on Reddit about the API pricing:

Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year. Even if I only kept subscription users, the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost $2.50 per month, which is over double what the subscription currently costs, so I’d be in the red every month.

Based on the $20 million per year in API fees number and the average per user per month cost of $2.50, that puts Apollo at about 666,000 active users.

How much was Apollo charging for the app, you may ask? According to Juli Clover at MacRumors:

Right now, Apollo Pro is a one-time $4.99 fee that unlocks additional features, and Apollo Ultra is an even more premium tier that costs $12.99 per year.

I’m not a fan of subscription pricing, generally, but this seems criminally underpriced for what the app is providing. It’s a far better experience than what you get from Reddit themselves and a significant discount compared to Reddit Premium — which is $5.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

So what if Apollo charged $6 per month — the same as Reddit Premium? Taking out $2.50 for Reddit’s cut and about $1.80 for Apple’s, that would give Apollo about $1.70 per user per month.

If every existing user paid, that would be about $1.1 million per month in earnings after Apple and Reddit’s cut.

If only a third of those users paid, that would be over $350,000 per month.

I don’t know what the operating costs are for Apollo and, in an ideal world, perhaps Reddit’s fees are a bit higher than they should be. But my back of the napkin math tells me that it’s totally feasible to develop a third-party Reddit app and make enough money from it for a small team to earn a reasonable living.

But to do so, Reddit’s essentially forcing third-party developers to charge at least as much per month as Reddit’s own premium subscription. From Reddit’s perspective, this makes total sense. Why would they want third-party apps to provide a better experience at a lower cost than Reddit’s own offering?

Now this isn’t to say that third-party developers should just put on their big boy pants, pay the new fees, and end the boycotts. By all means, continue with the boycotts, try to convince Reddit to lower their API fees as much as possible, and move as many communities to the open web as you can.

But don’t say that the new pricing makes it impossible to build a third-party app. Because that’s not true. It would just require pricing apps so they’re more in-line with Reddit’s own offering.

One-Off Upgrade Fees Are More Honest ➝

I agree with Chris Hannah on this, however, I would make an exception for applications with core functionality that relies on an online service. To ensure the developer is able to maintain that web service, I think it’s perfectly fine to charge a subscription fee.

➝ Source: chrishannah.me

Twitter to Charge for API ➝

A great collection of reactions to the news of Twitter charging for API access. Elon sure is rocking the boat for third-party developers with this. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any additional details about pricing at all, but I’m hoping there will still be some amount of access for free — even if it’s only for accounts with sufficient verification.

➝ Source: mjtsai.com

Twitterrific Has Been Discontinued ➝

Twitter acquired Tweetie in April 2010. Prior to that acquisition, the only native Twitter apps available were developed by third-parties. And now, they are explicitly prohibited by Twitter’s API policies.

Twitterrific was the first mobile Twitter app — originally developed during the jailbreak days before the App Store even existed.

It’s sad that it happened like this, but honestly, I’m not sure if the backlash would have been much different if Twitter chose a different path. If it was announced ahead of time, if access required a Twitter Blue subscription, if ads were introduced to the API feeds, or what have you.

There’s a group of users that exclusively interacted with Twitter through third-party apps and I can’t imagine any scenario where changes wouldn’t have resulted in a backlash and a very high attrition rate. I don’t agree with it, but I can see how someone at Twitter could come to the conclusion that it would be better to just cross their fingers and do it quietly.

The silver lining in this, though, is that talented developers that have spent years in an adversarial relationship with their API maintainers can move on to build bigger and better things. The folks at Tapbots are already well on their way to launching Ivory and hopefully Iconfactory will focus this newfound development time toward something neat as well.

➝ Source: blog.iconfactory.com

Apple Working on Sideloading for Europe ➝

This is only good news in my mind. Any potential downsides pale in comparison to the benefit of being able to install software that isn’t beholden to Apple and their capricious App Store rules.

➝ Source: mjtsai.com