Monthly Archives: March 2009

Apple gives reasons for dreaded “requiring unexpected additional time for review” email

A few days ago, we here at Bearded Pony received news from Apple regarding our newest submission to the app store – iShake it.  Unfortunately, the news is not good…  apparently, Polaroid has expressed concern over copyright infringement on similar applications, so here’s what apple said:

Dear Mr. Tanzillo,

We received your application named iShake It Camera, which appears to include features that resemble Polariod photographs.   Polaroid has previously objected to other applications that include features that resemble Polaroid photographs, and believes that such Polaroid features infringe its rights.

Before we proceed with your application, please take steps to review your application to ensure that it does not violate the rights of another party.  Remember that, pursuant to our agreement, you have represented that your application will not infringe the rights of any third party, and that you are responsible for any liability to Apple because of a claim that your application infringes another party’s rights.  Also, we may reject or remove your application if we believe that doing so is prudent or necessary.

With this in mind, so that we don’t take unnecessary steps, please confirm whether you wish to continue the application process within five days of this letter.

Still, this is not a big deal… I think.  They’re just trying to cover their ass in case Polariod wants to sue.  So I make the following case for the good guys:

Thank you so much for your detailed response.  We at Bearded Pony do not believe that the iShake it camera violates the rights of the Polaroid corporation in any way.  We did our best to consider this issue in the development of the application, and therefore, took the following precautions to ensure that we were well within our bounds and respectful of the Polaroid corporation’s intellectual property:

1.  We created all images and sounds from scratch so as not to use images Polaroid’s products against their will
2.  The instant camera experience that we are replicating is not unique to Polaroid.  There are several other instant camera makers that provided a similar experience such as Keystone and Konica

Thanks again for your attention.  We would like to continue the application process for iShake it Camera.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself… however, I guess I’m not quite as charming as I think that I am because here’s what I got back:

Dear Mr. Tanzillo,

Please provide documentation evidencing that you have authorization to associate with POLAROID and to use the POLAROID white-border trade dress (reference attached screenshots).

The attached screenshots were actually the ones that I submitted…  I have spent the last couple of days contacting Polaroid, but to no avail.  I’ll keep fighting the good fight, but right now, things are not looking great.  Don’t stop believing, though, kids.


Heart,
P.J. the Pony



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Initial impressions of iPhone OS 3.0…

Hey kids…it was SXSW here in Ausin, so I was on vacation from Bearded Pony last week.  That said, I installed iPhone OS 3.0 on my phone last Tuesday, and after a week of using it, I have a couple of impressions – remember I have the older iPhone, so I can’t use MMS…

1. How did I ever live without cut and paste.  There are a few uses that I totally didn’t even think of until I used it.  For example:

  • I sent out a text to several friends, then realized I needed to add 2 more
  • My son was in Disneyworld with his grandparents, and he emailed me about the “Tower of Terror” ride – I was able to look it up on google images really easily
  • I booked a flight on southwest and needed to check in online.  Luckily I had an email with the record locator number

2.  You can TOTALLY tell this is beta software.  It’s sluggish right now – seriously so.

3.  Right now, there appear to be issues with the sound APIs because a bunch of the applications that use sound are acting weird.  For example, I use Night Stand as my bedside clock, and I noticed that the alarm sounds sometimes don’t play.  The same is true for my apps – it looks like it is possible to crash the sound libraries through normal operation.

4.  The UIImagePickerController has changed so more of the image is visible.  No real opinions here, but something that was different.

5.  I still haven’t used the Voice Memo native application for anything other than playing around.  I’m sure that there will be more use for it, but I haven’t found it.

6.  The landscape keyboard makes text messaging and (especially) emailing much easier – I just keep forgetting that I have that option.

7.  The new stocks landscape option is pointless.

8.  Search is cool, but it doesn’t search the contents of the emails, just the subject an sender/recipient.  Still useful overall, but not quite as useful as the built in search in gmail.

9.  My battery life has suffered – I would guess that the 20% estimate by apple is pretty close.

Overall, even with the killer new features, I wish that I would not have upgraded.  This is primarily due to stability issues and performance – even though the 3.0 software is a fun toy, when it comes down to it, I need my phone to work.

Until we meet again,
P.J. the Pony

Rest of the world notices issues with iTunes App Store

So, even though I brought this up over a week ago, the rest of the world is finally noticing that iTunes is messed up.  Yet another instance of Bearded Pony being ahead of its time.  Here’s a post from MacFixIt that details some of the problems. What can we learn from this?

1.  Bearded Pony is a trusted source for nearly all information
2.  iPhone app developers are quite possibly the most whiny whiners that ever whined

Seriously,
P.J. the Pony

I fixed the blog so iPhone users can read it again…

…you’re welcome.

Now you can tweet and retweet all of my hot posts.  Speaking of, I’m starting to feel a little old.  I just tweeted that.  That means that everyone reading this blog is, like, minutes behind my microblog.  Even that is a week or so behind my nanoblog. For those of you who are too ADHD to make it through my full 140 character tweets, a nanoblog is only capable of displaying one word at a time.  However, I think that actual words are a little to cerebral, so I have decided to only blog words that are actual noises.  You know, it’s what all the kids are doing.  I think that it’s called “picoblogging”.  I am already submitting my SXSW interactive session for next year.  Kevin Rose will be on the panel

Soon, well all be communicating just like a newly born Pleo

Gruh,
P.J. the Pony

Apple holding up iShake it – a sign that faces will be in iPhone OS 3.0?

So, I have been doing a bit of research, and my friends, things are not good today.  I started reading, and the email that I quoted in my prior post about iShake it Camerarequiring unexpected additional time for review” is not good news – not at all.  Best I can tell, that emain is well known among iPhone developers as the kiss of death – well maybe not death – but maybe just the kiss of the undead.

Here are a couple of example.  Apparently, the makers of Peeps received this email shortly before being rejected for using a private API.  Apparently, Vanilla Breeze had an application that made the LCD look cracked, and apple rejected that.  There are countless others on google, but the crux is that if you get this email, you are F***ed.  Period.

Apparently, when one of the app reviewers thinks there might be an issue, but isn’t sure if there are grounds for rejection – this email gets sent out and then the app sits in a strange zombie state, just groaning and sleuthing around in Cupertino searching for brains… so what could have been the issue?  With Booty Caller,  I expected some resistance, but I expected iShake it to sail right through…
Well, I think it’s just a coincidence.  Apparently, Apple released iPhoto ’09, and in that version, they released a feature called faces that recognizes and tages the familiar faces in your photo album.  The view of these faces strongly resembles the iShake it photo (i.e. a polariod style picture on a corkboard background).

overlay_organize_01_20090106

That said, it seems strange that apple would reject an application because it uses a similar background as one of their apps.  The function and purpose is totally different. All of the images in our app were originally created and therefore totally legit.  This raises the question – is this happening because Apple is rolling the “faces” feature is coming to the iPhone is OS 3.0?  Just a thought.

Adios,

P.J. the Pony

In defense of Apple’s review process

So much has been made in the news/blogosphere lately of the apple review process.  Specifically, there have been some applications like Tweetie which were rejected for silly reasons such as foul language in web content.  However, even as a recent “victim” of application rejection, I would like to come to the defense of Apple and the iPhone application development process as a whole (including the approval process).

P.J. the Pony takes a deep breath and climbs atop his soapbox…

Let’s take a step back and look at what Apple has done in the interest of an open, accessible development platform.  Let’s start with a comparable gaming platform – the Nintendo DS.  In order to be officially recognized as a developer, you need a company with an experienced team of software developers.  The alternative is to resort to many of the hacked and homebrewed development toolchains – even then, if you complete an application, how are you going to market or sell it.  On the contrary, Apple put out a platform so that people like me can pay $99 and develop an app in a couple of months of night and weekend labor.  Are my apps groundbreaking – of course not.  However, they’re fun, and I have had a blast developing them and with iTunes and Apples sizable addressable market, I have a chance to make a few bucks and strike it rich if I was really lucky.  This is the equivalent of a gold rush, but instead of heading into the old west, Apple has conveniently delivered the mine right to my doorstep.

As far as the approval process goes, I think Apple is smart to gatekeep what makes it into the app store.   Am I disappointed that my silly “booty call” app came down on the wrong side of the moral fence? Absolutely.  Did I know that I was walking the line? Yes, of course.  Did I have a backup plan? Yep.  At the end of the day, 12% of the 63 billion websites that exist today are porn.  I for one am pretty happy that the iTunes App Store is not 12% porn –  and I would probably throw my phone out the window if it started doing something malicious like sending text messages without my knowledge.

Finally, I think it’s crazy not to have a little sympathy for the app approval backlog.  Again I speak from experience here too.  Earlier today, I received this email:

Dear Bearded Pony,

Your application iShake It Camera is requiring unexpected additional time for review.   We apologize for the delay, and will update you with further status as soon as we are able.

Thank you for your patience.

Regards,
iPhone Developer Program

Craig the Beard said that it’s probably taking so long because the app is so awesome… but I digress…

Apple is in one of those magical situations that people in meetings and on conference calls all over the country only dream about.  They’re trying something – a new marketing plan or introducing a new product, and one of them says “What if this just totally blows up and we can’t handle the demand” and the other one says “Who cares…we’ll be rich” and everyone laughs.

I guess my message is LIGHTEN UP.  If you bet your livelihood on selling 10,000 fart machines by next Wednesday,  don’t blame apple for not being so anxious to let you ride on its coattails until Thursday.

Satisfied, P.J the Pony steps down from his soapbox.

Til’ the morrow,
P.J. the Pony


First day of sales – I’m not exactly a millionare yet…

So after all that, iDrunk Dialer sold a grand total of…. wait for it… 9 copies in its first day.  For those of you who are math wizards, this equates to about $6.30 of raw profit.  When I spit things up 3 ways – 10% for the idea generator  Jamie B. (Bearded Pony policy) and 45% each for Craig the Beard and for P.J. the Pony, I walked home with  a grand total of $2.81.    At this rate, it will take me just under 974 years to make that illusive first million – I guess when they say the first million is the hardest, they are not joking.   Here are some of the factors contributing to what I would consider a lackluster debut:

1.  The app store has been just plain wonky the last couple of days.  I don’t know if anyone else out there is experiencing similar issues, but I’m pretty sure that this has been going on for a week or so.  iDrunkDialer has not yet shown up in the Entertainment section even if you look at latest releases.  I have noticed that apps have been randomly appearing and disappearing here.  Also, the search returns different results at different times – for example – sometimes if I search for “drunk dial” we come up, sometimes we don’t.

2.  There have been a few signs lately that the app store gold rush may be ending.  More specifically, there is an awesome post from Owen Goss that just got picked up by Slashdot.  The fact that a sweet game like his is not picking up steam is further proof that a silly app like mine really has to get lucky.

3.  A couple of similar apps hit the store just a week earlier.  Granted, ours is better in my humble opinion, but the drunk dial audience is likely not too discerning.

So, honestly, I’m counting on a couple of things to help us out.  I still think that Booty Caller (which was added today to the iPhone App Graveyard – thanks Peter!) is going to be a more successful app, and iShake It has promise.  Right now, Bearded Pony is in a full on development frenzy, and the hope is that we can crank out enough of these guys that one will it it big… either that, or we’ll have to actually work for a living.

Adios,
P.J. the Pony