Update: The CEO of Theory11 wrote TechCrunch to say that, after Phil Schiller got involved, the Rising Card app was approved and is now on the store. Here's the iTunes link, and it's $2.99.
Just when you thought the App Store approval process could not get any weirder comes word that the developers of magic tricks for the iPhone are coming under increased scrutiny from the gatekeepers at Apple.
According to the iTricks website, developer Chris Kenner's Rising Card app has been sitting in App Store limbo after Apple suggested the app might violate their guidelines.
Which guideline might that be? Consumer confusion of course. The developers respond that many tricks rely on confusing the consumer, that's how people get fooled.
The dust-up is causing many magic trick developers to have second thoughts about the App Store. They may re-do their trick as a web app, or work to find some way around Apple.
One magic developer, Hotrix, is selling so called 'Premier' apps that don't require the App Store at all. It works well, but I'm not at liberty to divulge how they are doing it.
One of my colleagues quite correctly points out that Apple has not been overly long in the approval process, and the apps are likely held up because they mess with some of the strict iPhone interface guidelines. Apple is setting the 'confusion' bar pretty low, but one can understand both sides in this controversy.
Gerald Kirchner, who runs Magic City and has produced some first class magic apps, sees the dilemma. "Apple has a point when they say the spectator would be confused, as the iPhone is not "working correctly". Apple is all about the "Apple experience", in a way, we magicians are taking that "Apple experience" away. There is an app in Cydia that I love that makes it look like your friend breaks your phone and cracks the screen. It is great fun, but does Apple really want to condone software that makes it look like you broke their device. It sucks, because I make a lot of these tricks, but I understand Apples views."
Still, it would be nice if the App Store had consistent guidelines. We've been all over that topic, but the issues remain.
Advice to Apple: Be careful about messing with someone who has a magic wand.
Thanks Harrison for the tip.