by Sebastian Dittmann
UPDATE: You might want to read this follow-up post about the implications of this for all iOS developers.
Today our latest version of SoundPrism got rejected from Apples App Review team after an excruciatingly long waiting period of 20 days since we submitted it to them (you can read about it and the things I’ve found out about the review process in my excruciatingly long previous post).
I’ve made a video showing what we were trying to do in our latest update and what we were trying to sell as an InApp Purchase since it would take some time to explain it (badly). So here’s what we were trying to do:
Back from watching? Cool.
So we didn’t comply with section 11.8 of the App Store Review Guidelines which says (Statement #1):
“Apps that use IAP to purchase access to built-in capabilities provided by iOS, such as the camera or the gyroscope, will be rejected”
Apparently CoreMIDI is considered to be on the same level of importance as the camera or gyroscope which is probably a correct assumption by Apple.
Let our misery be a warning to you if you’re a budding iOS developer of audio apps - CoreMIDI cannot be sold as an IAP. Which is quite a shame if you ask me. Just because the capability is there that shouldn’t mean one can’t make any money off of it via InApp Purchase because IAP is probably the way to do business as an iOS develper in the future. InApp Sales/Purchases are a really nice way to monetize features of an application without letting the customer/user pay in advance for them.
But ok, it’s their store so it’s their rules.
Our solution to this is that we’re going to create multiple Apps. We’re going to leave our current one (SoundPrism) as it is. Then we’re adding a lite version which doesn’t have certain features and are offering it for free. And for our professional users we’re going to offer a version of SoundPrism which has the capability to change the scales and - tada - CoreMIDI support built in. That should do the trick, right?
Only there’s a catch.
The email sent to me by the “iTunes Store” reads like this (Statment #2):
“We’ve completed the review of your app, but cannot post this version to the App Store because it did not comply with the App Store Review Guidelines, as detailed below:
- 11.8: Apps that charge users to access built-in capabilities provided by iOS, such as the camera or the gyroscope, will be rejected”
See the difference? No “IAP” in that version of Section 11.8. So it’s not ok to charge for capabilies that are provided by iOS at all? Must be a typo, right?
Here’s another statment of the rejection from iTunes Connect (the developer area of Apples iTunes portal) (Statement #3):
“Mar 9, 2011 02:25 PM. From Apple.
We found that your In App Purchase product provides access to built-in iOS capabilities, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.
The application is using In App purchase to unlock the use of the Apple Camera Connection Kit, which then enables MIDI Support.
It would be appropriate to revise this In App Purchase product to provide functionality other than what the iOS provides; or to remove it.”
So we’ve received three statements. Two of them are contradicting themselves in an important matter and the third one doesn’t really bring any clarification.
- The first statement from the actual guidlines says that InApp Purchases can’t charge for features that are based on iOS capabilities.
- The second statment from iTunes Connect says it’s not ok to charge for features that are based on iOS capabilities. At all. Which doesn’t make any sense because literally every single app is built onto some basic capability of iOS.
- The third statement via mail from “iTunes Store” says we’re breaking the rules because we’re supporting the Camera Connection Kit to enable MIDI support. Which we are not.
MIDI via USB via the Camera Connection Kit is just a byproduct of enabling CoreMIDI. I’m never using it at all. Connecting wirelessly is the really cool part about our latest release.
Also, it’s simply wrong that the Camera Connection Kit enables CoreMIDI. Enabling CoreMIDI is what enables the Camera Connection Kit as a way to connect.
What’s also slightly worrying is that some people in App Review are either working with a different set of guidelines or they’re quoting them incorrectly. Both of which isn’t optimal.
We’re now putting CoreMIDI support into a different application which we’ll sell independently. It’s just not feasible for us to not charge for CoreMIDI at all or making our ‘vanilla’ App (SoundPrism) more expensive.
We’re also ignoring the implications of Statement #2 because our common sense tells us that’s ok.
Hopefully Apple is ok with that.
So to end this on a positive note here’s a video of Roger O’Donnell using a midi enabled beta version to control his Moog Voyagers with his iPhone running SoundPrism.
Hopefully we’ll be able to see more musicians do something like that in the future. Wish us luck.