Angelo DiNardi

Doin' shit on the web since 1995.

MailWrangler and the Apple App Store

20 September 2008

So in July I wrote a small iPhone app called MailWrangler. Basically this app enabled a user to add their GMail accounts (standard and Google Apps For Your Domain) which they could load and switch between them quickly. It embedded Webkit in to the app and logged you in to the accounts automagically. Normally to check multiple Gmail accounts in mobile Safari you would have to log in and out of all of the accounts, typing the username and password for each. Using just the Apple Mail application you aren’t able to see threaded views, your google contacts, archive (quickly), star, etc without going through the hassles that are present when using Gmail’s IMAP on the iPhone. There’s a similar app for the Mac desktop called MailPlane.

I submitted my application on July 17th. On August 29th I finally heard back from Apple:

... Your application duplicates the functionality of the built-in iPhone application Mail without providing sufficient differentiation or added functionality, which will lead to user confusion. ...

This is an interesting claim since although handing email, my app is simply directly loading and showing Gmail inside of an application. How you can confuse Gmail with Mail.app I’m not sure.

There was another issue:

... There is also no way to edit an account once it has been added. ...

I agree that this should work. Currently you have to delete and re-add the account. You don’t lose anything since all the account info stores is a username and password. I felt for a first release this would be fine (how often do you change your gmail password?). The number of apps with this specific issue and other issues that apps have which are in the store, mine seems to be on par or ahead of the game. If you’re going to have rules about this, enforce them across the board. The number of shitty apps in the store is off the charts and yet mine that actually works is getting blocked.

What did I pay to be able to do again? Oh right, deal with Apple’s messy bureaucracy. I guess I should just write another flashlight or glowstick application to actually get published. That’s the only apps Apple seems to want in the store.