In case you’ve been wondering what we’ve been up to in the last little while, well, we’ve been desparately trying to get JuicePhone into the Mac App Store, but, unfortunately, to no avail.
Let’s start from the beginning: Ever since its announcement last October, and especially since its release date of January 6th, we thought JuicePhone would make a great spot in the App Store. Since our application accesses iOS backup data, though, which is, of course, not supported/documented by Apple (there probably wouldn’t have been a need for JuicePhone!), we never really considered the possibility of getting through the approval process – until we found an application doing exactly that. It is quite different from JuicePhone (in its form as well as its purpose), but under the hood it also accesses iOS backups, so attempting to submit JuicePhone seemed like a reasonable thing to do.
We registered for the Mac Developer Program and submitted (a slightly App Store-optimized version of) JuicePhone. The review team took quite a while to answer, and after weeks of anticipation we realized they had rejected it. They claimed that directly accessing “system files” without a public Mac OS X interface would lead to a poor user experience once these files were updated (for example, in a new version of iOS with a different backup format) and “modifying” that data without a public interface lead to our rejection. However, JuicePhone never modifies anything; it just reads your backups. Just to point out, our app does not use any private interfaces; we just wrote our own, using a combination of public ones, but Apple didn’t like us reading iOS backups, which they consider private. We don’t think we violated the Apple Review Terms per se, but you could interpret it as such. Nevertheless, we pointed out that another application reading iOS backups already exists – it just seemed a little unfair to us ;)
We submitted these arguments to the App Review Board a day after getting rejected. The response seemed to take forever (they must have a lot of stuff to do), until we finally recieved a call from “Steve at Apple Developer Relations” (not Jobs, because he was busy presenting the iPad 2 at that moment ;D) last night (around morning/noon in California time). He told us in person that reading iOS backup files is considered undocumented and therefore our application has no chance of being approved in the Mac App Store. Steve didn’t know how/why that other app had been approved, but he said he would look into it (on the off chance that application should actually be pulled – this definitely is not what we wanted!).
Unfortunately, this seems like all we can do, this whole story is quite pitiful (at least to us), but that’s probably just life. Nevertheless, we still hope you’ll continue to enjoy JuicePhone, even if it’s not in the App Store!