Restricted views: Unstated reasons for limited access in iOS


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Apple’s WWDC Keynote was on Monday so that meant you had to get any complaints about the company filed over the weekend if you wanted to maximize your humph.

Writing for Wired and nailing that tried-and-true formula, Arielle Pardes complained that “Apple’s restrictions aren’t helping tech addiction.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Alter Eggo.)

Pundits everywhere agree that tech addiction is a very serious real actual thing even though there’s quite a bit of evidence that it’s just another made-up piece of pseudo-science for them to rail against for a while before moving on to the next outrage-du-jour.

On iPhones, though, building those tools hasn’t been easy. A group of 20 app developers and thought leaders in the “digital wellness” space—people like Chris Dancy, author of Don’t Unplug: Embracing Technology to Improve Your Life, and Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone—are now calling attention to the ways Apple’s platform has historically stood in the way of third-party digital wellness apps.

We’re going to hear from these developers and thought leaders in this article… aaand literally no one else. There is no other point of view on this as far as Wired is concerned. What we need and need right now is for Apple to stop us from using these things we like to use.

In a petition to the company, they’re asking Apple to open up its software development kit and give developers the ability to customize the iPhone’s home screen, auto-trigger Do Not Disturb mode, or provide richer insight into app usage.

If there’s one thing that users of Apple products want, it’s someone else stepping in and trying to take over the user experience.

“We have millions of iPhone supporters waiting for us to make our innovative tools available to them,” the petition says…

Number of people who’ve signed the petition: 774. Possibly the millions of iPhone users chomping at the bit for these apps are too distracted by their phones to sign the petition.

…“but all we can do is offer unsatisfactory products, or encourage them to switch to Android.”

“If you’d like to use your device less and, uh, maybe let us check out your app usage, switch to Android.” Good luck with that message.

It’s a clear message to Apple: The digital wellness revolution is coming, and if developers can’t make tools for your platform, you’re going to get left behind.

Apple is behind! As of the Sunday before WWDC. Perfect time to bang out a massively one-sided piece.

Why is this one-sided? Because part of the reason Apple doesn’t allow apps that take control of your system like these “digital wellness” apps or virus-scanning apps is because they take control of your system. When you allow apps to take over the system, you create a security loophole that’s exploitable by nefarious parties. That Apple doesn’t allow this is part of what makes iOS the most secure operating system on the planet.

Who is loudly proclaiming in this article that Apple desperately needs to change its ways and allow in “digital wellness” apps? Why, people who sell “digital wellness” apps, that’s who. Pardes gives them the entirety of the floor as well as the walls and the ceiling, but does push back on their contentions by critiquing their offering thusly:

The beauty of this ecosystem is the range of solutions.

Oh, sorry, that’s just more glad-handing of these app developers who want to sell their apps on iOS.

…these developers believe that Apple only stands to gain from collaboration with its ecosystem of app developers—especially the ones that have been working toward solutions for years.

These developers believe that Apple should favor these developers. Surprise twist!

During Monday’s Keynote, Apple announced what it called “a comprehensive set of features” to help people be less distracted by their iPhones including an enhanced Do Not Disturb, grouped messages, reports, app limits and others. Apple surely didn’t announce every feature these Android systems have, but it was a major improvement and also wasn't implemented by blithely opening up the OS and handing over the home screen to a third party that may or may not have its own relationships with other parties. Personally, The Macalope considers that a feature, not a bug.

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