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Iphone Software Apple

iPhone App In App Store Limbo Open Sourced 432

Posted by timothy
from the richarded-over dept.
recoiledsnake writes "The author of iPhone prototyping tool Briefs has decided to open source it after the App store submission has been in limbo for over three months. The app had got into trouble for what Apple believes is being able to run interpreted code, though the author denies it, saying all the compiling happens on the Mac. While Rob stays civil, his co-worker blasts Apple for not even rejecting the app. Three months is nothing compared to Google Voice for the iPhone though, which is still being studied further by Apple after more than a year."
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iPhone App In App Store Limbo Open Sourced

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  • Read the license (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @01:44AM (#33412672)

    I don't know if this technically qualifies as open source, and it's not Free Software, because of this line in the license:

    "The Software and/or source code cannot be copied in whole and
        sold without meaningful modification for a profit. "

  • by Professr3 (670356) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:09AM (#33412736)
    Three months is nothing compared to QA times for the T-Mobile Sidekick. Small teams can't afford to wait a year from submission to first profits, especially when you're writing software on spec (not sure if it'll even be allowed onto the platform). When you outsource your QA and pay them per bug they find, you're going to get a lot of non-bugs and a lot of repeats, and the developer is going to get pissed. I know my team and I did.

    Welcome to the mobile software industry, where your target platform doesn't care about you because there are 600,000 other developers who'll bend over and take it if you won't.
  • Re:his product (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:12AM (#33412750)

    As you say, the app allows one to create wireframe prototypes, but those prototypes are not usable in any sense. So it isn't the same situation as Adobe allowing Flash to be compiled into apps.

    The reason the app was rejected initially was for allowing the "execution" of code that could be loaded from outside the app. However, the "code" was nothing but an XML document that was read into the app and used to construct interfaces. In fact, the XML document even used Apple's "property list" format, and was simply loaded directly into an NSDictionary.

    The insane part of this whole thing is that had the developer not given his "code" files a unique extension (he used .briefslist I believe), and had changed the wording in his instructions just slightly, the app probably would have gotten through fine. Others have noted that there are live apps that do essential the same thing that Briefs wanted to do.

  • by Qubit (100461) on Monday August 30, 2010 @03:13AM (#33412928) Homepage Journal

    The Briefs code is now up on GitHub, and yes, you can go look at it, however it's not "Open Source" (per OSI), it's not "Free Software" (per the FSF), and it's not "DFSG-free" (per Debian).

    If you look at the commit history [github.com] for the license, he even explicitly changed the license two days ago to make it less free:

    2010-08-28
    Modified license terms to disallow someone from reselling Briefs without making major modifications. Also protect the Briefs trademark. Still, free source code, huh? Not too shabby.

    Prior to two days ago, the code was under the... well, I'm not exactly sure what license!

    Here's the license (the first paragraph is a dead ringer for the opening of the MIT License [opensource.org]):

    Copyright (c) 2009-2010, Rob Rhyne
    Briefs is a trademark of Digital Arch Design Corp.
    http://robrhyne.com/ [robrhyne.com]
    http://digitalarch.net/ [digitalarch.net]
    All rights reserved.

    Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person
    obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation
    files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without
    restriction except as noted below, including without limitation
    the rights to use,copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute,
    and/or sublicense, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
    furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

    Here's the non-FOSS part:

    The Software and/or source code cannot be copied in whole and
    sold without meaningful modification for a profit.

    This is more of the MIT license:

    The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be
    included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

    This middle part looks like the BSD license [opensource.org]:

    Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
    notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

    Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
    notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in
    the documentation and/or other materials provided with
    the distribution.

    Actually, there are only two clauses there, so that's essentially the 2-clause BSD, not the 3-clause one (just a minor point, really).

    Then we get the YELLING-AT-YOU indemnification clause. Lawyers seem to love these things, but they seem so uncouth to me. Anyhow, for 5 points, from which license was this paragraph chosen?

    THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND,
    EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES
    OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND
    NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT
    HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY,
    WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING
    FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR
    OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

    That's right! It's the indemnification clause from the MIT license.

    I googled around trying to figure out if other people used this same license, but the best I came up with was the NCSA license [opensource.org]. It's unlikely that this license is based off that one, as the phrase to deal in the Software (MIT) is used in this new license instead of to deal with the Software (NCSA).

    One more thing: let's point out exactly why the license doesn't pass any of the most popular FOSS metrics:

    1) "Open Source" (per OSI)

    Per

  • by Lupu (815408) on Monday August 30, 2010 @06:36AM (#33413430)

    They behave the way they do because they are control freaks. They want absolute control over their platform. Their ultimate vision is that they'll be the source of all your media, all your apps, etc. They'll dictate how you consume stuff. Such a setup would be, needless to say, very profitable.

    As for why they can get away with it, well I'd say there are two reasons:

    1) Fanboyism/zealotry. Apple has had a following for a long time of people for whom they can do no wrong more or less. A non-trivial amount of these people are in the press (Macs are big in prepress work). They just love Apple and everything they do. So when something bad comes out, they find ways to rationalize it away, or ignore it.

    2) For many of the Apple buyers these days, Apple is not a technology company but a fashion company. They largely won't admit it, but they buy them as fashion accessories. They are the "cool" product to own. As such they are purchased based on that alone. Whatever restrictions/costs accompany that are ok because they want to be cool. I see the same thing these days with fixed gear bikes. They are in with college kids (I work on campus and bike to work). They buy brand new, surprisingly expensive, fixed gear bikes. This, of course, makes them harder to ride up hill, but they are ok with that because fixed gear is cool, road or mountain bikes are not.

    or 3) Their market share is sufficiently low to face antitrust investigations for monopolistic behavior.

  • by Stratoukos (1446161) on Monday August 30, 2010 @07:54AM (#33413640)

    No, actually, this particular issue is one standing in the way of corporate adoption, not geek adoption. Corporate types don't want to have to hire Objective C developers - who are rare and expensive - to develop their iPhone apps. Apple, however, won't allow any other language to be implemented (other than Safari's javascript interpreter).

    The language restriction applies only for App Store distribution. Software distributed internally doesn't need to go through Apple's approval process and can be written in any language.

  • by Shoe Puppet (1557239) on Monday August 30, 2010 @07:55AM (#33413644)

    Here's the previous licence [github.com]

  • by dunezone (899268) on Monday August 30, 2010 @08:25AM (#33413758) Journal
    Couldn't you say this for any developer working on any console?

    I believe Nintendo and Playstation require any software coded to be certified by them, and of course they also have licensing and developer fees.

    The only real difference is that Microsoft owns Windows which happens to be a preferred developer environment for all these consoles.
  • by pnewhook (788591) on Monday August 30, 2010 @09:14AM (#33414128)

    i never said the issue was with interpreted code. apple never said anything... let alone this being about interpreted code.... the REAL question is why are YOU talking about interpreted code?

    From headline

    The app had got into trouble for what Apple believes is being able to run interpreted code

    From article

    No interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:00AM (#33414502)

    You're joking.

    USB was introduced in 1995. It was present - STANDARD - on every machine and motherboard a year later when I was comparing prices. The iMac G3 wasn't released until 1998.

    Yes, there were other ports on those machines. There were other ports on the iMac G3 as well, a pair of firewire ports that went to... uhm... a few crappy, barely-even-apple-compatible cameras, and maybe a few specially designed keyboards that worked better with a standard MIDI interface anyways.

    To claim that a shitty little closed-box unit with a hockey-puck mouse, crappy OS (System 8... gah that makes me want to puke just thinking about it) and that barely could hold 1% of the computer market somehow "created the market for USB peripherals" is just fucking stupid.

  • by beakerMeep (716990) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:07AM (#33414556)
    I have an N1 so yes, I have seen the speed of it, and its far from abysmal. I also think it's 'cooler' to hate on flash these days for whatever that's worth so spare us the lone voice angle. But my point was.that it runs well enough for.people to want to use it. But if you really want something more objective, as of right now Flash player has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on the android market. With over 13 k reviews. This is a higher rating than last.FM and Pandora. It may run poorly on a Milestone thoguh are you on froyo yet? How fast do you expec it to run. Btw saying someone is delusional or a fanboy means you are either a) lying about the performance or b) immature and judgemental about differing opinions reducing them into categories you understand.
  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:38AM (#33414932)

    Submitter here. I included that line in the summary because of the information from a previous blog entry at http://blog.robrhyne.com/post/659211315/almost-on-the-app-store [robrhyne.com]

    Last week, after initially submitting on May 7th, I received a phone call from Apple to update me on the status of my submission.

    The gentleman on the phone was courteous and polite, but his message was blunt. While I had not been officially rejected (at least, not yet), he asked me some questions and hoped to manage my expectations. Based on the information available to him, the reviewers believed Briefs contained a non-Apple interpreter and the first team initially rejected it for non-compliance with section 3.3.2 of the iPhone Developer Agreement. I’m still waiting to hear their final decision.

  • by theRiallatar (584902) on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:01AM (#33415178)
    Ironically enough, we have a stack of USB to RS-232 connectors here at the office. You still need them to access the console on most SMB+ firewalls and managed switches from Cisco, 3COM and a variety of other vendors. They still do it because the technology's cheap and when you're doing console, you don't need a lot of bandwidth.
  • by webheaded (997188) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:33PM (#33417898) Homepage
    Actually he was implying most of those fell under "this is retarded and I'm not buying this just for Apple." Most useful technologies (like USB for example) were NOT done first by Apple. All the examples you listed were Apple taking some standard and just making it smaller before anyone else and then being the only people selling cables. I don't see the point of a micro-SIM card or any of these "same thing but smaller lol" versions unless it actually becomes a standard and everyone jumps on board.

    I don't really see many areas where Apple started a standard. If it's a standard, then everyone implements it usually. Most of what Apple does is bullshit lock-in and cables that cost 10x as much as they should.
  • by M. D. Kristopeit (1890086) on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:07PM (#33419828)
    you partisanly or conveniently forgot to quote the next sentence in the story where it was quite obviously pointed out that THE ISSUE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH INTERPRETED CODE. the issue is translation, where the maintainer of the translation layer is entrusted with ultimately controlling the end user experience. apple is not willing to allow developers to trade in user experience for a non-standard development process.

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