• Facebook for iPhone App Developer Quits, Blaming Apple

    Joe Hewitt, the programmer behind the most popular offering on the iTunes App Store, is moving back to being a web developer, and cites Apple's review process as the reason he wants to stop working on apps. Hewitt had tweeted that he is quitting development on the Facebook for iPhone app, and told TechCrunch that Apple's "gatekeeper" approach to the App Store was entirely responsible for his decision to quit.

    My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies. I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer.

    The web is still unrestricted and free, and so I am returning to my roots as a web developer. In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users.
    Hewitt has been long an outspoken critic of App Store policies. In an August blog post titled “Innocent until proven guilty,” he had asserted that “the review process needs to be eliminated completely,” and that the review process was about "lawyers, not quality."
    Apple does not have the means to perform thorough quality assurance on any app. This is up to the developer. We have our own product managers and quality assurance testers, and we are liable to our users and the courts if we do anything evil or stupid. Apple may catch a few shallow bugs in the review process, but let's face it, the real things they are looking for are not bugs, but violations of the terms of service.
    Hewitt is well-known in the developer community for being on the team that created the Firefox browser and for his work on the Firebug development plugin. He remains at Facebook, but says he can't comment on his next project.

    While there has been much criticism of Apple's strict control of what apps can and cannot go on the App Store, it may be that this rebuke from such a prominent developer may spur action by Apple... or lead to the defection of more and more developers to other platforms.
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