Apple removes Wi-Fi finders from App Store

The new MacBook - Starting at only $954.59!“Apple on Thursday began removing another category of apps from its iPhone App Store,” Jim Dalrymple reports for CNET.

“Apple removed several Wi-Fi apps commonly referred to as stumblers, or apps that seek out available Wi-Fi networks near your location,” Dalrymple reports. “According to a story on Cult of Mac, apps removed by Apple include WiFi-Where, WiFiFoFum, and yFy Network Finder. ‘We received a very unfortunate e-mail today from Apple stating that WiFi-Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks to access wireless information,’ WiFi Where-maker Three Jacks Software, wrote on its Web site.”

Dalrymple reports, “There was no explanation as to what Apple meant by ‘private frameworks.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Private frameworks mean that they’re not to be used by third-party developers and Apple can (and likely will) change them at will (thereby likely breaking apps that aren’t supposed to be using those frameworks). In many cases, security is the issue. Any developer who decides to use Apple’s private frameworks should be aware that they risk App Store rejection or removal of their apps without notice and should not be surprised if and when either event happens.

MacDailyNews Note: We just tapped our eWiFi app on our iPhones and it still works, but it’s no longer available in the App Store. A note on the eWiFi website confirms that it’s been pulled, too. Developer eFUSION writes, “Hope Apple will include WiFi framework in their future SDK.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Davidlow” for the heads up.]

18 Comments

  1. Can’t we just look for a local Wi-Fi in the Settings app’s Wi-Fi Networks tool? I guess I am missing the need for this as a separate app.

  2. Apparently the issue has to do with certain applications that use a facility called “Private Frameworks” to allow access to certain iPhone features. Normally, in the world of programming, a framework is sort of a library of code written to address common issues. They save time because programmers don’t re-invent the wheel over and over.

    According to Apple, “…the iPhoneOS has 2 kinds of frameworks: public frameworks and private frameworks. Public frameworks are those ones endorsed by Apple and are allowed to be used in AppStore apps. Private frameworks are intended to be used only by original apps, and are more unstable against firmware changes, but many of the interesting features are in the private frameworks…”

    Apparently the apps pulled from the app store used private frameworks to provide WiFi (802.11) searching and functionality.

    By using a private framework, you run the risk of your application being broken at random by Apple. They can change a private framework at any time. This could also lead to instability of the iPhone. Private frameworks are likely to change as the iPhone OS evolves.

    Apple maintains and provides support for public frameworks with the assumption that they are being used by third party developers and require stability.

    In fact the CFNetwork.framework is provided by Apple and contains interfaces for accessing the network via the WiFi and cellular radios, however the ability to provide the functionality found in WiFi stumblers does not appear to be a part of this library.

  3. @Jersey_Trader

    I use one called “WiFiFoFum” for instance. It shows me all sorts of things that the Apple utility doesn’t, for instance what channels different WiFi hosts are on.

    I use this typically when setting up WiFi for clients in order not to put them on a channel that is crowded or close to a crowded channel.

    In addition, the utilities show me more available WiFi hosts than the Apple tool does. I can also tell if one SSID is really a Wireless Distribution network with multiple distribution points. I can pick the strongest if I like.

    It also shows me hidden networks.

    There is a display that shows a radar screen like image of nearby hotspots.

    Tools like this turn the iPhone into a handy network analysis tool, so like MDN mentions, I hope they provide an SDK for this functionality in the future, cause without it, the iPhone has been effectively dumbed down, yet again.

  4. @Tommy Boy

    I see no hypocrisy. MDN explained the private frameworks issue, that the consequences might be, and that being said, went on to describe a great app.

  5. As a regular user, I’ve never seen a need for these apps the iPhone finds any available WiFi point effectively enough for me. Geek tools are fine but should conform to the rules like other apps.

  6. @Tommy Boy,

    Yes, conservative hypocrisy is annoying; just as annoying as the just-as-common liberal/progressive hypocrisy.

    In fact, maybe we could leave politics out of it and just say hypocrisy in general is annoying. How about that?

    Especially since, as thelonious point out, there’s no hypocrisy in simply articulating why the apps were banned, but also affirming that you like the apps.

  7. Yes, Apple has the legal right to remove these applications for violating the developer’s agreement. The rationale that they may become unstable is accurate. BUT Apple is getting a reputation for capriciousness that will start to push developers away. This is not good. The old M$ understood, even Ballmer understood (in his limited capacity): “Developers! Developers! Developers!” chanted the Monkey Boy. Consistency in treating developers/apps is a needed priority.

  8. Will App Store refund me the money for those apps?

    Why did they approve them at the first place?
    So apple screened carefully and approved app which should not have been approved; collected money for those … then took them out of store with no warning and said that it will break them.

    What a pile of crap!

    Also not so surprised to see that so many “users” never see the need for such apps … there are always people which lack imagination who never realized how limited are they by apple. Lots of them around in MDN ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Now start throwing your s..t at MDN fan, I promise: my feelings will be very badly hurt.

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