Apple’s response to Dash removal from App Store, request for clarification

First read this morning’s post, about the Dash Mac app being suddenly removed from the App Store.

This afternoon, Dash updated their blog with this chilling message:

Apple contacted me and told me they found evidence of App Store review manipulation. This is something I’ve never done.

Apple’s decision is final and can’t be appealed.

Certainly, only Kapeli (the Dash developer) and Apple know if there was any App Store review manipulation. But this feels heavy-handed. Dash is a tool used by lots of developers. Not only does this hurt Dash, but it hurts the developers who use it. And this is being done, seemingly, without due process.

One thing for sure, there is a big wave of developer response to Kapeli’s blog post and all of it (at least what I’ve seen) is supportive of Kapeli. That should tell Apple to take another look at the evidence. Dash just doesn’t seem like it needs App Store review manipulation.

  • Prof. Peabody

    Depends on the details. What kind of manipulation and who’s doing it etc.

  • Caleb Hightower

    We need some transparency here.

  • Andy Orr

    What prevents a third-party from doing the manipulation to get a competitor removed? Apple should be forced to show the accused the actual evidence (just like in a real court of law).

    • I think you’re being excessively paranoid here. Dash even having a competitor would be a surprise to me.

      I think it’s more likely that something Apple did triggered their own fraud detection.

      • Zeal Not suggesting they did it. Just surprising you. That said, I agree competitor is probably a step too far, but third-party is a plausible option, assuming both Kapeli and Apple are being forthright. Rather than a direct competitor, it could be a rival in another way. Could be a jerk who just doesn’t like Kapeli. Could be someone testing a review scam bot and Dash was the random unlucky test subject. Third-party leaves a lot of possibilities open.

        • Depending on how Apple measures, it could just be a bunch of users in a country known for posting fake reviews. I could see that as a real problem for development tools.

      • Andy Orr

        I agree that a third-party manipulator is highly unlikely in this case. It could be attempted though, and my point was really that Apple needs to disclose evidence. I agree with Brent Simmons on this —

      • freedonuts

        Paranoid is thinking that Apple triggered their own fraud detection without noticing it..

        • The Cappy

          That’s not paranoid, though it might be wrong. We don’t know anything about Apple’s fraud detection theory, so we have no idea what’s likely or unlikely. That’s why the calls for transparency are so important here.

          • and revealing how it works could aid fraudsters. the reality is this is an internal matter between Apple and the guy.

  • wince

    The whole “we have ‘evidence’, you can’t see it, we made a decision, you can’t appeal it” thing needs to be made illegal. Paypal does it, Amazon does it, and now Apple does it. (I’m sure others do, as well, those were just high-visible examples.)

    If Apple thinks there was manipulation, then present the evidence and let the developer defend themselves. This whole process is entirely subjective, so if someone has a bad day, doesn’t like the developer, or mis-reads something, “the decision is final” and too bad for you.

    There is simply no place for this kind of tyranny (and there’s no other word for it) in the area of a developer’s income.

    • The Cappy

      It’s not illegal because devs sign an agreement saying they accept it. But it’s a process that can be misused, and the sense here from a lot of people is that this is a case where it’s being misused.

    • making it illegal is laughably absurd. it’s apple/whoever’s private playground, not a public park for god’s sake.

      getting a bad rap for being overly harsh is their incentive to not use their power inappropriately.

  • rick gregory

    I really really dislike the whole “you can’t see the evidence and you can’t appeal this” BS. I have no love for any kind of fraud, but this approach is just too highhanded.

  • David Stewart

    It bears keeping in mind that the Dash developer has no personal interest in releasing anything that might incriminate him. It’s easy to blame Apple, but I’m not going to blindly take the word of the developer.

    • Mau Sandoval

      Looks like it was rather easy to blindly blame the developer. And it’s not like Apple’s policing of the App Store has never been unfair to any developer.

      There’s precedent.

      • David Stewart

        Apple has certainly had its share of missteps with the App Stores and developers.

        • Mau Sandoval

          Thinking about this a bit more, wouldn’t it be even dumber from Kapeli to make this public if they knew they were indeed caught red-handed by Apple? If they are fraudulent, they would’ve pack their things and invent something else on why they are no longer at the Apple Store. But I’m done here, we’ve all just wasted plenty of time on this. 😏

          • David Stewart

            It’s far easier to claim innocence and blame Apple. Apple is unlikely to produce the evidence as there are legal and privacy implications (and it’s not their style anyway). It is just a he-said she-said.

    • The Cappy

      True. But as has been pointed out, it is a well-liked and very useful app.

  • Truly unacceptable, and completely contrary to the image Apple projects about itself. Apple should be ashamed at the lack of appeal for such decisions. How would they like it if someone who worked for Apple were to be discriminated against by the government for being gay, or black, or from Pakistan, and told there is no appeal?

    If what this developer says is true, Apple has really shown an ugly side of their nature.

    • David Stewart

      We don’t know that there weren’t many warnings and chances to change behavior. It would seem unlikely this is the first and final action.

  • Ruurd Pels

    It really sucks. You could use the app to look up documentation on your iOS device that you requested on your laptop. Real killer feature apart from the excellent service we could get from it. I hope they fix it asap.

  • The Cappy

    What’s troubling to me here is the idea that your first warning is application of the death penalty. If there’s been repeated violations, as Shiller says, shouldn’t they give a warning? Then with further violations, terminate the app? From what we’ve heard so far, that at least hasn’t happened.

    • heard from who? the guy accused? if he really were guilty of repeat offenses, why would his word be good? it isn’t and can’t be.

      none of us will know the facts and that’s just the way it is.

  • I find this whole thing a bit tawdry, actually. We are only getting one side of the story, and Apple has no obligation to say anything at all to us, the public. Among geeks and techs, many of us will discuss it a couple days and then it will blow over and maybe appear as a whiff of something when someone is dissatisfied a year or so from now. Among the vast number of users, it’s nothing.

    Beyond that, however, I’d like to see this given at least more time by the developer to work with Apple before it was plastered all over the Internet. I can understand frustration, but I think the developer moved too soon, and might have even pushed Apple to make a quick decision that even it didn’t do properly.

    We are all conditioned these days to think everything needs to be immediate, but that just isn’t the case for so many things, and we need to let it work itself out reasonably, rationally, over a decent amount of time. How long is that? Well, it certainly isn’t a day or less.

    • Dean, it sounds to me as if you’ve never actually dealt with Apple as a developer. Apple does not give you time to work things out. They just tell you “this is the case and this is what we’ve done” and that is the end of that. As far as I’m aware, you generally have no recourse to anything at that point except perhaps an appeal in the case of app reviews.

      So no, I don’t think the developer jumped the gun. They did the only thing they could (and the only thing that seems to have worked in the past) when you get arbitrary decisions from Apple.

      I’m not saying that the developer is right or that Apple is wrong since I don’t know the data which led to this decision. But to say that the developer going public is what prompted Apple to make a quick decision would be totally wrong. Apple had already made the decision.

      • He didn’t get an “arbitrary decision” until after his first public posting. It could have very well been a glitch or mistake. I believe he even questions it in his first post, but he makes no indication of what official channels he went to before the actual notification came.

        I’m holding out a decision for myself to support either side of this until we have more information. I maintain it didn’t have to be public yet, but it is, so I’m content to wait and see what happens.

  • avbelow

    Phil Schiller has apparently looked into the matter, and says Apple stays with the decision. That does not sound as if Apple is doing it lightheartedly. Maybe Jim can get a better inside look?

  • Dave Aiello

    All I can say is:

    1) I use Dash every day that I am working on RinkAtlas, because it’s the best solution I’ve found to the problem of reading documentation for AngularJS, NodeJS, HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript.

    2) I’ve contacted Kapeli once with a technical questions and Bogdan Popescu, the main developer of Dash responded to me personally in less than 12 hours and gave me the answer I was looking for.

    I would need to know more details before I’d say that Apple should take action against an indy developer like this.

  • George

    The “truth” is that Apple is a big company and their process is probably highly arbitrary, just like Google or other companies. It took me more than a month to have a rip of my Android app removed that used my Android screenshots on Apple’s store. How that passed their review I cannot fathom…