Apple Rejects Thomas Jefferson Book App, Claiming It's Just A Book... Even Though It's Not

from the this-is-not-a-book dept

Apple's legendary arbitrariness in keeping things out of its walled garden has struck again. As a bunch of folks have sent over, some professors at the University of Virginia have put together what sounds like a wonderful app for the iPad, which takes different early versions of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia (the only full-length book he ever wrote) and allows users to compare the different versions, and to get a glimpse into Jefferson's writing process and how his thoughts changed over time. It sounds both fascinating and like a really excellent use of tablet app technology -- to do something that really would have been much more difficult to do in physical form. Except... Apple has rejected the app over and over again, claiming that it is merely "a book" not an "app" and thus needs to be formatted as an iBook, with all of the restrictions that entails. Unfortunately, those restrictions also mean that as an "iBook" it won't do what the app is supposed to do.
But when we submitted the app to Apple for approval, it was turned down. Why? The reason the App Review Team gave (again and again) was that our app was “simply” or “just a book” (their words), and that it therefore had to be formatted in Apple’s iBooks Author program in order to be distributed through the iBookstore. We decided to play along and make a good-faith effort to convert our app into an iBook, only it doesn’t work. We cannot reproduce all of the features of our app–including some of the ones that we think the app needs to be useful to anyone–and for reasons no one has been able to explain, the iBooks Author file seems to expand well beyond the maximum size for an iBook (currently 2 GB). We’re stuck with an app that does just about everything we envisioned, that has impressed the many people to whom we have shown it on our own iPads, that does something that no app or printed book out there does–but that Apple won’t allow to be listed in its App Store. So, yes, it is possible to download an app called “Burp and Fart Piano” that does pretty much what you’d expect such an app to do, but a free, edited edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia that lets you compare Jefferson’s and Lafayette’s own copies and to zoom in on Jefferson’s handwritten corrections? No dice.
As they note, this is absolutely Apple's prerogative, just as it's their prerogative to point out how ridiculous this whole thing is. In the meantime, they've found another solution:
In the meantime, we’re looking for a programmer who can help us port our app to Android.

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  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 6 Sep 2013 @ 2:30pm

    They should have started with Android to begin with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2013 @ 3:55pm

      Re:

      I was going to say this, the mistake was even being on Apple's app store, I think everyone would be better off if we all stop using it and submitting to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Las, 6 Sep 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Android stinks. Apple is evil enough, but google is a subset of the CIA - founder attends bilderberg meetings, etc. I don't trust apple and what they instal on my devices, I don't want to think about what google does. Besides google ripped off apple. Apple was the first truly smartphone. Android cloned exactly what apple did. It frankly should have been illegal. Too bad Jobs isn't around. He destroy android which was his mission.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dr evil, 6 Sep 2013 @ 2:49pm

    apple vs android

    apple has been and always will be a talented 'fast follower'. nothing truly original, but when they follow, the products tend to be the best of the best. I love myiPad, but am smart enough to have android devices to get everything I want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 6 Sep 2013 @ 3:02pm

    NO, it's not "absolutely Apple's prerogative"...

    Corporations are sheerly legal fictions that must ask public permission to even exist, and must be subject to our control, else we'll soon be literal slaves.

    Can't you get over your notion that corporations can just do whatever the hell wished and that real live people just have to lump it? -- Man, your pro-corporatist bias just pops out and reveals you every time, even when as here the corporation is visibly stupid and arbitrary.

    Apple in particular (though certainly not exclusively!) needs to be taken down several notches in arrogance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Apple is silly, Jobs is dead, move on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 6 Sep 2013 @ 7:23pm

    Makes A Change...

    I see Techdirt has been invaded by Apple-versus-Android fanbois. Is that better or worse than the usual crowd accusing copyright/patent minimalists of “intellectual property theft”?

    Disclaimer: I am a current Android/Linux, former Apple. fanboi, currently within arm’s reach of 4 Macs and 6 functioning Linux boxes (3 of them Android).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shon Gale, 8 Sep 2013 @ 7:13am

    Here you go. Develop and debug your android app using MIT servers. http://appinventor.mit.edu/
    Screw Apple and the public will soon let them know. How long do you think people will accept exorbitant prices, and year old technology? And to have top pay those high prices for two years. You must all be rich.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 8 Sep 2013 @ 7:38am

      Re:

      How long do you think people will accept exorbitant prices, and year old technology?

      I have not yet figured out why they do so, so I have no prediction. :-) I have an iPod Touch for work, and it has a really pretty screen (though some new Android devices have awesome screens too) and the performance is impeccable - never any lag, never jerky scrolling or the like. It's also of course ridiculously thin and light. Otherwise I find my 3-4 year old Android phone preferable. So I guess people value those things enough to pay a whole lot more? Or is it really that they want the physical device to look nice? That would be sad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 9 Sep 2013 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re:

        It's neither of those things. What it is is tribalism. Many people purchase Apple products because they feel an affinity for the Apple tribe, and don't mind paying a premium to be a part of it. Yes, they'll make all their arguments about Apple products being objectively superior in some way, but that's just rationalization, not reason. The same is true for many people who purchase Android things.

        There's a reason that these disputes are called "religious wars" -- they are not based on reason, but on tribalism.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 9 Sep 2013 @ 4:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's neither of those things. What it is is tribalism.

          You're probably right. Maybe it's good that people can now belong to tribes such as Apple or Android or Chevy. Perhaps they have less need (or at least opportunity) to harm members of other tribes if they're not real tribes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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