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Goodbye, Drafts Widget (For Now?)

Drafts 4, which we reviewed in October, offered a handy Notification Center widget to open the app in draft creation mode. The widget could launch Draft to a new empty draft or, even better, create a new draft based on the contents of the clipboard.

Today, after a few weeks of back and forth with App Review, Drafts’ Greg Pierce said he was told to remove buttons from the widget, therefore making it useless.

As Greg explains:

When I hear about these rejections, I’m concerned not necessarily about what Apple likes or doesn’t like, but rather about the confusing signals they send. I’m just going to re-use what I wrote when Apple asked James Thomson to pull the PCalc widget (a decision that was quickly reversed):

Curious app rejections aren’t new to the App Store, but being forced to remove a feature that was approved, featured by the App Store team, and appreciated by thousands of users is a different story. As Thomson tweeted, he invested time and resources into the development of the widget, which was a fantastic addition to the app and a nice way to perform quick calculations directly in the Today view of Notification Center. More importantly, it was a great showcase of the new capabilities of iOS 8.


But even with the following examples in mind, being forced to remove apps or features that had been previously approved isn’t news either (case in point). Rather, what is disappointing is the persistence of contradicting signals from a company that many developers saw as “more open” after WWDC ‘14. Developers like Thomson will keep finding themselves in the position of risking to implement a feature or create an app that may be approved, gain users, and be shut down by Apple for a sudden policy change.

Maybe Drafts got caught by a reviewer who particularly dislikes buttons in Today widgets, or maybe the company has decided that buttons that initiate certain types of actions are no longer welcome on iOS (sounds like it).

What’s really perplexing is that different teams within Apple are approving apps, promoting them on the front page of the App Store, and then asking to remove some of their features otherwise they may get pulled. It’s hard to see a masterplan when everything is so convoluted and contradictory.

If that’s the case with buttons in Today widgets, it sure looks like Apple has plenty of choice.

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