22 Comments

Summary:

It’s here! It’s here! The feature that nobody wants on the iPhone is here! I’m talking about Apple’s ability to determine if you have any apps you shouldn’t have on your iPhone followed by their (not your) removal of said application. Terry White bought the Netshare […]

ItunesappstoreIt’s here! It’s here! The feature that nobody wants on the iPhone is here! I’m talking about Apple’s ability to determine if you have any apps you shouldn’t have on your iPhone followed by their (not your) removal of said application. Terry White bought the Netshare app that allows you to tether your iPhone for modem use and watched as the app was later removed right before his very eyes. He was issued an iTunes credit for his purchase (although he had to ask for it), so at least from a financial standpoint he was covered.

iPhoneAtlas says that Apple maintains a list of unauthorized applications and a string in the iPhone file system verifies that; if an app is added to that list, expect it to go "poof!" all by itself at some point in time. Some are saying that the iPhone "phones home to Cupertino" to keep this list updated, but I haven’t seen evidence of that. I suspect that the list of undesirable applications is updated with each firmware update or perhaps with each USB tether; just speculation on my part and I’m sure we’ll hear more about that in the future.

That issue aside, the colossal fail here is isn’t with the application blacklisting mechanism in my opinion. Isn’t Apple the gatekeeper for the apps in the App Store? That’s where app control should be: at the source, not at the end point. Then again, I’m not sure that having my phone silently calling Cupertino behind my back is highly desirable either. Thanks to Alan & Steve for the tip!

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  1. At what point does the phone become mine? Ugly. Wow…just wow.

  2. James Kendrick Thursday, August 7, 2008

    This demonstrates the failing of how software “purchases” work. You never “buy” a program, you just license the right to use it. In almost every program’s EULA if you read the fine print there’s a clause that says that the license can be revoked at any time. It’s not right and it’s not fair but we accept it when we “buy” a program.

    This is pretty sick of Apple in any event, they should not be the police of each owner’s phone, outside of the phone upgrades and App Store itself. Leave us be after that.

  3. turn.self.off Thursday, August 7, 2008

    lovelyy…

  4. Just imagine if Microsoft had been able to revoke installation of Outlook Express remotely back in the days of the loveletter/etc viruses..

    One problem with only allowing non-malicious apps into the App Store is that you have to ensure, right up front, that an app is entirely non-malicious and that it does not have a glaring and dangerous security hole. Perhaps Apple realizes that extensive testing up front leads to developer-and-user-infuriating delays and so has decided instead to use a method that lets them remove ‘bad’ apps when they find out that they truly are bad later on?

    Now that argument doesn’t address the ethics of Apple controlling the environment to begin with. That’s an entirely different can of worms as JK points out :)

  5. Heh. reminds me of over at Veoh, which uses their software as a download client. People who, um, happened to download stuff in violation of DMCA were shocked — shocked! — to find Veoh could reach in and *delete* those downloads.

    Anyway, what Apple is doing is the future.

    Welcome to it.

    (Of course, when they do it to *me*, I’ll scream bloody murder!)

  6. This just seems… wrong to me. Can you imagine the reaction that would be generated if Microsoft released something like this?

  7. I wondered where my MMS/Videorecording app had gone! ;-)

  8. I didn’t bother to read EULA, but aren’t they supposed to ask user agreement before uninstalling? What’s next? Deleting all the contacts who have Microsoft affiliation?

  9. That pretty much seals it up for me. Looks like I’ll never be buying an iPhone.

  10. Kevin, please read Terry White’s blog entry again. There is a 2nd update that shows it wasn’t that the program was blacklisted and deliberatly removed, but the way he bought it (on his iPhone over the air), and when he synced it to his computer (after it had been removed from the iTunes Store). It was the sync mechanism process that removed it, and since NetShare was no longer in the store, it could not be recovered. And yes, I still have my copy of NetShare.

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