Steve Jobs: “We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops”

The iPad App Store is going pretty well, with 8000 apps already accepted and developers quite happy with the sales results. But what about an application that's been approved and then pulled from the App Store for some strange reason? That's what happened to My Frame, and that's why the developers decided to email Steve Jobs and ask.

It turns out that Apple, as usual, retains ultimate control on the kind of software that can be approved or not, but in a way that is not very clear to developers and people who'd like to develop applications. My Frame is (was) a photo frame app with some additional features, like music controls, weather info, twitter feeds and birthday reminders in the shape of "overlays" to the photos you have to manually pick.

We know that Apple doesn't approve widget-like applications, but could you call My Frame a widget app? I guess that if it was approved in the first place, this is the kind of app that sits in between, and that's exactly the place where Apple retains ultimate control. In between.

So, the developers emailed Steve and asked: (here's their blog post about it)

"Hi Steve,

Just got a phone call from Apple letting us know that our iPad app ‘My Frame’ is being removed from the store. Apparently Apple is cracking down on ‘widgety’ type apps. Our app is a beautiful photo frame with a few nice things you can put over your photos. It’s not ugly, or even widgety.

What gives? I’ve always defended you guys in the past, but it seems like you’ve crossed an invisible line here, even the guy on the phone was saying how much he likes our application but that there’s nothing he can do?"

They talked with Apple employees on the phone before, but it seems that no one could give a proper explanation to what happened to their app.

Steve's reply:

"We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops. Sorry.

Sent from my iPad"


This is what developers were fearing most, Apple's cryptic rules. What does "create their own desktops" exactly stand for? Why isn't something like this mentioned in the SDK? What's the line a dev can't cross?

Are we going to know more about this at the WWDC? Maybe. If not, I wouldn't develop apps with overlays if I were you.

UPDATE: Although Apple warned the developers that the app was "being removed", it is still available here.