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AMBER Alert appmaker not happy with submission process


Jonathan Zdziarski, who has appeared on this pages before for other iPhone-related hijinx, has written an open letter to Apple about the AMBER Alert iPhone app he's written. Apparently he's worked in conjunction with government agencies to set up an iPhone app that can easily and quickly send sighting reports of children gone missing in the United States. And he's unhappy with Apple, because they haven't yet approved it.

His letter, which you can read in full over here, complains that we've got tons of fart apps already approved on the store, but his app still sits in approval purgatory. He actually sounds kind of selfish in the letter to me -- he says he doesn't care about how the App Store works, and that he just wants someone to "pick up the phone" and push his app, which could save children's lives, through.

We've got nothing against the AMBER Alert system, of course, and if it's true that this app can get more reports in and possibly help kids who are in danger, then great. But do we really want Apple picking and choosing which apps get kicked to the front of the line?

Update: looks like the app has been approved. The question remains: what was the holdup?

There are thousands of apps already on the iPhone store, and probably many, many more waiting to go through. In this case, sure, you could definitely make the argument that this app could help a lot more than a random piece of software that makes farting noises. But do we really want Apple making that decision? In this instance, clearly, you'd want the AMBER Alert app to go through. But what about the next time, when Apple pushes the wrong app forward, just because the developer of that app raises a stink? Shouldn't Apple stick to apps in the order they're presented, rather than actually monitoring the 'usefulness" of every app that shows up to see which gets to go first or not?

Not to mention that it's a simple matter right now to send a report on any AMBER Alert child that may have gone missing, from your iPhone or any other wireless device. Considering that the functionality is already easily there, you could even question whether there is a pressing need for the app itself. Maybe Apple has already made its decision, and determined that because the functionality exists there already, it doesn't need to be in the store. Though if that is the case, it would have been nice for them to actually tell the developer.

There are definitely issues in the App Store that need fixing, and the approval process clearly isn't perfect. But asking Apple to kick certain apps to the front of the line just because they're perceived as more important than others isn't a solution.

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