‘Amphetamine’ app to stay in Apple App Store

Apple told a developer of the “Amphetamine” Mac app that their software violated the company’s App Store Guidelines due to a drug reference in its name.

This sudden takedown notice happened despite the app having been on the store for some six years and “Amphetamine” having been actively promoted by Apple itself. Only a few days later, Apple reversed its decision.

Apple App Store on Apple devices
Apple’s App Store

Adam Smith for The Independent:

William C. Gustafson, the developer behind the Amphetamine app (which allows Mac computers to avoid going into sleep mode) said he received a call from Apple asking him to remove the application.

“Apple called me a few days ago and informed me that I have 2 weeks to completely remove all references to the word “amphetamine” and remove the pill from the icon, else Apple will remove Amphetamine from the Mac App Store on 1/12/21”, Gustafson claimed on Reddit.

Such an alert was strange as the free Amphetamine app had been featured by Apple in a Mac App Store Story , and had been downloaded nearly half a million times prior to Apple’s message.

Apple’s App Store guidelines state that: Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco or vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on the App Store. Apps that encourage minors to consume any of these substances will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of marijuana, tobacco, or controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies) isn’t allowed.”

“I specifically asked Apple on the phone if this was a result of customer complaints and Apple’s response was ‘I don’t think so,’” Gustafson also told The Verge. “I found it odd that this issue came up out of nowhere. I wasn’t in the middle of trying to update Amphetamine or anything. Just sitting at home with my kids enjoying our holiday and got the violation/rejection email from Apple.”

The smartphone giant contacted Gustafson on 29 December 2020, but by 2 January 2021 Apple had reconsidered its decision.

MacDailyNews Take: Apparently no amount of public embarrassments caused by un- or poorly-prepared App Store reviewers (college interns? automation?) is too much for Apple to actually fix the problem by creating a simple system of adjudicating and approving Apple Store removal calls prior to notifying developers.

Obviously, if anyone looked at how long “Amphetamine” was offered in the App Store or checked to see Apple themselves had previously featured the app, a flag should have been raised. Either condition should have escalated the review of the automated or inexperienced employee’s removal call to someone with a functional brain who would say “this is clearly a mistake; cancel the removal,” but, alas, Apple seems to have a poor, or no, system in place to run through a standard checklist to see if something’s going wrong before blasting takedown notices to developers that naturally blossom into totally unnecessary public relations kerfuffles with appalling regularity.

The lack of such a simple, obvious system designed to flag erroneous takedown calls before they get sent to developers and inevitably generate bad PR for the company is the result of managerial incompetence.

You’ve got a recurring issue Apple: same problem, different app; seemingly monthly. It’s not only upsetting to innocent developers and, you’d think, Apple’s PR department, but this recurring erroneous takedown issue touches, and even bolsters, claims of antitrust abuse regarding the App Store. Perhaps you should – gasp! – fix it?

5 Comments

  1. This is typical of Apple. I have had an app in the App Store for the past eight years dedicated to Domestic Violence Information. It has been approved for years but now it isn’t. When I appealed the decision, they gave me this song and dance that it wasn’t interactive enough. I also made a similar app and that went right through.

  2. Well, you do know that CENSORSHIP is all the rage for Big Tech in SiliCON Valley.

    Oh, and MDN, ‘adjudicating’ and ‘removal’, it’s a bit too early for the use of those words.

    1. Censorship to some extent is inevitable. No rational app source is going to offer software specifically for facilitating illegal drug sales or monetizing pedophilia. The question is where to draw the lines. Any line you draw is going to draw critics who claim it is too inclusive and others who say it is too exclusive. You give it your best shot and live with the criticism. This is a case where Apple went too far and made a correction.

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