What was GameStore? Looks like sample code

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What was GameStore? Looks like sample code

Earlier today, Kelly posted about GameStore, a new Apple app that appeared on the App Store right before the New Year and was pulled several minutes ago. I forked over my dollar and downloaded a copy to see what the app was all about.

It turns out, that there wasn't a lot of there there, and what there was looked an awful lot like...sample code. Specifically, sample code that demonstrates how to perform in-app purchases.

The application's identifier was com.apple.iphonesdk.GameStore. Compare this with com.apple.Cards, the identifier for Apple's Cards app. "iphonesdk" hints that the application was meant for developer audiences, i.e. users of the iOS Software Development Kit.

Next, I looked at the contents of the application bundle. Therein I found numerous listings for consumable and non-consumable items. These included things like "Awesome Sword" and "Consumable Bullets" as well as the less descriptive "sku.gamestore.nonconsumable.item1."

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All the classes in the app consisted of such generic elements as "MyProduct," "StoreEngine" and "ProductInfoViewController." Basically, it looked like sample code. Adding to this hypothesis is the tab called "PaymentQ." The queue is of deep interest to developers and absolutely of no interest to end-users.

So how did this app end up on the App Store? I have an hypothesis. As I point out in my developer cookbook, although you can easily add IAP features to applications that are already for sale on App Store, you cannot fully develop and test your in-application purchasing for new apps without submitting your application to iTunes.

What developers do is upload a working skeleton application to iTunes Connect. You do this with the full understanding that you'll be replacing or, for tutorials, rejecting your binary at some point in the future. Once uploaded, you can test your IAPs, and make sure all your purchasing processes work. Looks like the app was submitted in order to provide a live testbed and may have gotten approved inadvertently.

After consulting with the TUAW team, our take on this is "likely sample code accidentally deployed to App Store" by Apple and then quickly pulled once people took notice. TUAW reached out directly to the developer we suspect was behind the app upload before it got pulled.

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