Apple to chop template-based apps

iPhone maker will bar simplistic, automatically-generated apps and those mirroring mobile Web site versions from the App Store, according to blog post.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Apple's new stand on template-driven applications will mean iPhone apps generated through automated tools may soon be barred from the App Store, says a blog post.

According to a blog post from Mobile Roadie founder Michael Schneider, Apple is clamping down on apps which duplicate mobile Web sites or blogs.

Mobile Roadie offers a tool which generates mobile apps for the iPhone and Android platforms, and is touted by its founders to be able to put an app together from scratch "in minutes".

While Schneider's blog post has been taken down, other blogs online have noted its salient points: "cookie cutter" apps will no longer be accepted in Apple's App Store. Meanwhile, Schneider's team has been offered suggestions on features that can be added to the company's product.

According to a TechCrunch report which followed, a fellow automated service from Appmakr has also been instructed on how to beef up its tool, so Appmakr's users will be able to gain entry into the App Store.

The service will add new features such as instant notifications, in-app purchases and offline access, in order to differentiate users' apps from what could otherwise be produced for a mobile browser, said the report.

Jimmy Yap, who has an iPhone app version of his blog, iMerlion, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview that he was careful to pack additional functionality into the app when it was developed.

Here, the iMerlion app has an app directory, which the blog does not, said Yap.

"I think [Apple's decision] is a great idea. Developers are complaining that there are too many apps on the App Store, making quality apps hard to find," he said.

He pointed to SingTel's "disappointing" iPhone version of its InSing Web portal, which is identical to the portal's mobile version.

Yap's app was made by 2359 Media. He hinted that a new version of the app will take advantage of the iPhone's location-aware capabilities.

Medialets CEO Eric Litman offered TechCrunch a possible reason for Apple's crackdown: "Apple wants iPhone apps to be superior to Web experiences because they are extremely sticky and drive people specifically to buy the iPhone over competing smartphone platforms.

"Apps that are too simple or largely indistinguishable from the Web, other apps or particularly other apps on other platforms send the message to end users that the iPhone app ecosystem might not be particularly special."

Apple has been on a drive to clean out the App Store. Last week, it pulled Wi-Fi detection apps, saying these infringe on the use of private APIs, although it did not specify which. Prior to that, Apple banned apps containing sexually-suggestive material, which it said was in response to complaints from users.

Separate from the on-device App Store, Apple maintains a list of 4,413 mobile browser-based apps, at time of writing.

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