THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

pCloud

How Does 2TB Lifetime Cloud Storage Sound?


Posts tagged with "developers"

Apple Reduces App Store Commissions to 15% for Small Businesses Starting Next Year

Today, Apple announced a reduction in App Store commissions that will substantially benefit a large part of the developer community. Starting January 1, 2021, developers who earn up to $1 million per year from their apps will have the commission paid to Apple cut in half, reducing it from 30% to 15%. Apple CEO Tim Cook said of the new App Store Small Business Program in an Apple press release:

Small businesses are the backbone of our global economy and the beating heart of innovation and opportunity in communities around the world. We’re launching this program to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love.

Cook continued:

The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea. Our new program carries that progress forward — helping developers fund their small businesses, take risks on new ideas, expand their teams, and continue to make apps that enrich people’s lives.

Apple says that it will provide additional details about the new program in December, but here’s what we know so far:

  • Developers who made up to $1 million on all their apps in 2020 after subtracting Apple’s commissions will qualify for the program and its reduced commissions beginning January 1, 2021.
  • New developers are eligible to participate in the App Store Small Business Program beginning January 1, 2021, too.
  • If a developer who is part of the App Store Small Business Program makes more than $1 million during a year, the commissions paid for the remainder of the year will be at the 30% rate paid outside the program and the developer won’t be eligible for the program the following calendar year.
  • A developer that is not eligible for the App Store Small Business Program will be eligible the calendar year following any calendar year that they earn less than $1 million.

For example, a developer that earns less than $1 million in 2020 on all of their apps after subtracting the amount paid to Apple for App Store commissions is eligible for the program and would pay a 15% commission on App Store earnings beginning January 1, 2021. Hypothetically, if the same developer has post-commission earnings of greater than $1 million in aggregate on all of their apps by, for example, September 1st, their App Store commission rate (assuming a paid-up-front app) would increase to 30% for the remainder of the year. That same developer would continue to pay 30% in 2022 but would be eligible for the 15% rate again in 2023 if their 2022 post-commission earnings fell below $1 million. It is our understanding that App Store earnings of all kinds count toward the $1 million total regardless of whether the source is a paid-up-front app, In-App Purchase, or a subscription.

Read more


GitHub Reinstates youtube-dl, Commits to New Policies for Protecting Developers

Last month, GitHub removed the code repository of the popular media tool youtube-dl following a DMCA takedown request by the Recording Industry Association of America. This move was met with widespread criticism, including the EFF stepping into the fray.

Today GitHub has responded decisively by reinstating youtube-dl, revising its DMCA takedown policies, and establishing a $1M developer defense fund. The new policies seem designed to extend more of the benefit of the doubt to developers, and will hopefully put an end to repositories being taken down by frivolous claims before any investigation has occurred. Make sure to check out GitHub’s post (which explains all of this quite well) to see exactly what policies they’re adjusting. As for the developer defense fund, GitHub has this to say:

Developers who are personally affected by a takedown notice or other legal claim rely on non-profits like the Software Freedom Law center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to provide them with legal advice and support in the event that they face an IP claim, under the DMCA or otherwise. These organizations provide critical legal support to developers who would otherwise be on their own, facing off against giant corporations or consortia.

Nonetheless, developers who want to push back against unwarranted takedowns may face the risk of taking on personal liability and legal defense costs. To help them, GitHub will establish and donate $1M to a developer defense fund to help protect open source developers on GitHub from unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims. We will immediately begin working with other members of the community to set up this fund and take other measures to collectively protect developers and safeguard developer collaboration.

If you want to support developers facing legal challenges, you can consider supporting SFLC and EFF yourself as well.

I’m pleased to see GitHub take these sweeping actions in response to this issue. Hopefully developers can now feel more at-ease when hosting their code on the industry’s largest version-control platform.

Permalink

Apple Publishes New Webpages Explaining the Benefits of the App Store and the Company’s Developer Program

Apple has published new online resources about the App Store and its developer program. The new webpages cover a wide range of topics related to the App Store and developing for it, and include several new facts and insights about the Store.

About the App Store’ is a page meant for consumers that explains the advantages of Apple’s Store, starting with the lead tagline: ‘The apps you love. From a place you can trust.’ The page covers the Store’s editorial curation, search functionality, global reach, privacy and security features, and the benefits of App Review. The page reveals several new facts and updates to other information we’ve heard from Apple before, including:

  • The App Store has published almost 20,000 editorial stories to date
  • The App Store has over 150 people on its global editorial team
  • Over 10,000 apps use Apple’s health-related frameworks
  • Over 150,000 apps were rejected for privacy violations last year
  • App Review includes over 500 reviewers who consider over 100,000 apps per week
  • Over 1 million apps have been rejected for objectionable, harmful, unsafe, or illegal content
  • In 2020, Apple removed over 60 million user reviews considered spam
  • Over 2 million outdated apps have been removed from the store

The developer-centric pages take a similar approach with a focus tailored to the audience. ‘Developing for the App Store’ explains the tools and opportunities Apple has created for developers and its commitment to helping developers succeed:

Apple is committed to helping developers turn their brightest ideas into apps that change the world. That’s why the App Store helps you from start to finish — to build, test, market, and distribute your products and grow your business. Our marketplace is secure, trusted, and accessible — connecting you to over 1.5 billion devices in 175 regions. The App Store and you. Together every step of the way.

Here too, there are new facts and updates on number previously reported about the developer program:

  • There are 28 million members in the development program from 227 regions
  • Apple provides over 160,000 technical documents and code samples for developers
  • 90% of apps are reviewed within 24 hours
  • 500 million people visit the App Store every week
  • Apple has paid $155 billion to developers since 2008
  • 85% of apps are free
  • Over 50% of apps are downloaded from outside a developer’s local region
  • In 2020 over 250 million user reviews were removed for not meeting integrity standards
  • Apps accounted for 50 billion impressions in 2020 across email, social media, and advertising
  • Over 130,000 apps have been featured on the App Store and other Apple channels
  • An Apple-commissioned study found in 2019 that apps facilitated $519 billion in global commerce
  • The App Store ecosystem supports over 2.1 million jobs in the US

A second developer page titled ‘Built for growth and scale’ provides additional details about developer services and tools like app distribution and payment processing, app marketing, analytics, Apple’s many frameworks, volume distribution outside the App Store to enterprise and education customers, and developer support. Finally, Apple has also published a page that explains the Apple Video Partner Program. Apple explains how the program for video streaming services works, lists the companies that participate in it, and who is eligible to participate.

Apple has faced growing criticism in recent months over App Review guidelines, the share of revenue paid to offer apps on the App Store, and other aspects of the App Store and developer program, so it’s not surprising to see the company respond with materials that put its programs into the best light possible. It’s good to see Apple communicating its position more clearly, though it does strike me as a little defensive given the current climate in the developer community. It’s also one of the downsides of being so secretive as a company. Had this information been shared over time when Apple was not in a defensive posture, I expect it would have been more effective. Instead, I expect it will be met with cynicism from many developers.

Perhaps the experiences of the past few months will lead Apple to be more open about the App Store and developer program in the future. Despite recent issues and criticism, there’s no denying the success of the App Store for Apple, many of its developers, and its customers. I’d like to think that the global numbers that tell a story of immense success don’t prevent the company from focusing on and improving the more granular issues faced by individual developers every day and communicating more openly with them.


The Developer Debrief on WWDC 2020

Weeks removed from Apple wrapping up its first all-virtual WWDC, many of us are still digesting what the conference’s announcements mean for the future of our favorite products.

Federico, John, and I have all shared various takeaways from the conference, and I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to report as we continue using the betas this summer and review Apple’s OS updates this fall. But our perspective is limited to our profession as journalists, so we also wanted to hear from the people this conference was really built for: developers.

WWDC has grown into an exciting conference for Apple users all around the globe, but its core identity is still ultimately an event for app developers. As a result, I wanted to speak with a variety of developers to get their reactions to the conference. These included:

My sincere thanks to these developers for taking the time to share their thoughts, and for their years of valuable contributions toward making Apple’s app ecosystem as strong and robust as it is today.

Interview questions for each developer ranged from the things that most excited them at the conference to surprises and disappointments, their read on how in-touch Apple is with the developer community, the current evolution of software development, and each developer was also generous enough to share a sneak peek at new technologies they’re working to implement in their apps.

Read more


Apple Partners with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Create New Coding Centers

Today Apple announced an expansion of its initiative of partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to create hubs for training the next generation of coders. 10 new HBCU coding centers are being added throughout the US, from which nearly 500 teachers and community leaders will soon participate in “a virtual Community Education Initiative Coding Academy that Apple is hosting for all initiative partners.” During this training:

Educators will learn the building blocks of coding with Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn coding language. Participants will work in teams to design app prototypes to address real community challenges. After completing the coding academy, educators will begin to integrate the coding and creativity curricula into their communities by launching coding clubs and courses at their schools, hosting community coding events, and creating workforce development opportunities for adult learners.

This announcement comes as Apple just last week shared updates to its lineup of coding resources for students, educators, and families alike, demonstrating the company’s investment in developing coding initiatives across all age groups. The move also follows Tim Cook’s open letter in June addressing racism in America and subsequent creation of a new $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative by the company. The executive leading this initiative, Lisa Jackson, commented on today’s HBCU news saying:

“Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”

These last couple months have seen many companies express a desire to work toward pursuing racial equality and justice, but true change takes more than just words, so I’m glad to start seeing the early fruits of Apple’s new commitments.

Permalink

Apple’s App Review Board Confirms Rejection of Basecamp’s Hey Email Service

Hey is a new approach to email that was launched earlier this week by Basecamp. The service, which comes with its own hey.com email address, has a number of unique features for managing messages with an emphasis on screening tools. Hey does not, however, allow you to use its client app with other email services like Gmail, which is important to keep in mind.

Equally important to this story as it unfolded over the past several days is the fact that Hey does not offer an In-App Purchase for its service. The service is available from Basecamp only. As a result, if you download Hey’s iOS app, but have not yet purchased a license from Basecamp, the app doesn’t do anything except request your Hey login credentials.

The service launched on Monday with access provided via the web and native Windows, Android, Linux, Mac, and iOS apps. At the same time, Hey was being launched, an update to its iOS app, which fixed bugs, was rejected by Apple. The timing is unclear, but TechCrunch reports that Hey’s Mac app was rejected too.

Read more


Indie Sticker Pack Debuts to Support the COVID-19 Solidity Response Fund and Equal Justice Initiative

A group of indie iOS and iPadOS developers have joined forces to offer a pack of over 100 stickers of many of our favorite apps, the proceeds of which will benefit two great causes. According to the sticker pack’s purchase page:

All proceeds will be split 50/50 between the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidity Response Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative for combatting racial and economic injustice.

It’s terrific to see the developer community come together to offer such a wide array of stickers for two excellent charities. Ever since I started attending WWDC, I’ve collected stickers of my favorite apps from the developers I meet. With WWDC online this year, I didn’t think I’d be able to add to my collection anytime soon. However, thanks to the Indie Sticker Pack, I’ll have more stickers at once than I could ever have collected at one WWDC and contribute to two great causes.

The Indie Sticker Pack is available for a limited time for $12.99 from the group’s website.

Permalink

Apple Highlights Swift Student Challenge Winners

One unique component of Apple’s online WWDC this year is that the company opened a Swift Student Challenge where students could submit a Swift playground creation for special recognition. Today in a press release, Apple is highlighting three of the 350 winners: Sofia Ongele, Palash Taneja, and Devin Green.

For Sofia Ongele, 19, who just finished her sophomore year at New York’s Fordham University, her focus for change lies at the intersection of tech and social justice. ReDawn, her first iOS app, is a powerful example. After one of her college friends was sexually assaulted during her freshman year, Ongele created ReDawn to help survivors access resources in a safe, easy, and sensitive way.
[…]
Palash Taneja…went on to create a web-based tool that uses machine learning to predict how mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever would spread. And for his Swift Student Challenge submission this year, created against the backdrop of COVID-19, Taneja designed a Swift playground that teaches coding while simulating how a pandemic moves through a population, showing how precautions such as social distancing and masks can help slow infection rates. He created it to help educate young people, after he saw others not taking warnings seriously.
[…]
Devin Green…was having trouble waking up in the mornings, so he designed a program using a pressure mat under his bed. If weight is still on the mat after he’s supposed to be up, an alarm goes off and won’t stop until he uses his phone to scan a QR code.

Apple has also created, naturally, a new post on the App Store where it’s highlighting three more winners and their apps: Lars Augustin, creator of Charcoal, Maria Fernanda Azolin, creator of DressApp, and Ritesh Kanchi, creator of STEMpump. Out of these, Charcoal is an app we’ve covered in our newsletter in the past, it’s an elegant way to perform quick sketches on your iPhone or iPad.

The Swift Student Challenge is a unique way for Apple to highlight some of the best and brightest young coders working on Apple platforms today. I loved reading the details about each of the six winners featured today, and hope we’ll get to learn about more of the 350 winners in the week ahead. With so many winners to recognize, perhaps we’ll see new App Store stories each day leading up to the conference.


Apple Shares Open Source Resources for Password Manager Apps

Today on Apple’s developer site, the company announced the release of new resources for password manager apps:

Apple has created a new open source project to help developers of password managers collaborate to create strong passwords that are compatible with popular websites. The Password Manager Resources open source project allows you to integrate website-specific requirements used by the iCloud Keychain password manager to generate strong, unique passwords. The project also contains collections of websites known to share a sign-in system, links to websites’ pages where users change passwords, and more.

The open source project can be accessed on GitHub.

Apple has continually deepened its investment in the area of password management with iCloud Keychain upgrades in recent years and new APIs for third-party apps. Today’s announcement takes things a step further down the path of openness and collaboration, enabling apps to share important site-specific information with one another so that users have the best, most secure experience possible no matter their choice of password manager.

Permalink