app store.pngThere are both pros and cons to the fact that Apple has so much control over iPhone application distribution. One area that they have control over which might be seen as both a pro and a con is the removal of “bad apps” from a phone. You read that right, Apple has the capability of disabling unauthorized or malicious applications from your phone.

According to the author of iPhone Open Application Development Jonathan Zdziraski, Apple has a “remote” URL which points to a page of unauthorized applications (found here). He suggests that iPhones are calling home to Apple on occasion to find out if there are any applications that should be removed from the phone. Zdziarski says, “At the moment, no apps have been blacklisted, but by all appearances, this has been added to disable applications that the user has already downloaded and paid for, if Apple so chooses to shut them down.”Depending on how Apple uses this remote URL, this really shouldn’t be a problem.

Our thought on this is, Apple has control over which apps appear in the App Store to begin with, shouldn’t they be making sure there aren’t any issues before they get released? On the other hand, sometimes it’s simply impossible to check everything. Well, it’s possible, but it would take so much time to clear every single app that developers would end-up frustrated with the process. It might be good, in most instances, that they have a system in place, to keep people protected from applications that may seem harmless, but have a malicious aspect to them.

Apple is already starting to get some slack over this with people not too keen on the idea that their phone is contacting Cupertino. If you happen to have an application disappear all of a sudden without warning in the future, you might know why.

Any thoughts?

Source: MacRumors

There Are 9 Comments

  1. I think this is good, you kind of have your own online antivirus + something like this is necessary after the approval of an app and its distribution to all the users; simply removing an app from the store won’t take care of all the people who have installed it, this way it gets removed.

    However, even if i like this kind of automation very much, there might be certain apps users will depend on (to-do lists, etc.). I’ve never used an iPhone before but my guess is the user data pertaining to that app will be deleted too, some kind of a backup should be offered?

  2. Definitely, a per-application back-up system would be really nice. I wouldn’t think it would be that hard for Apple to offer something like this either.

  3. For me, it’s not a big deal if there is an iPhone virus. I read enough blogs to find out. But I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that need a little help keeping their phones clean (hence the above URL).

    On the other hand, I would not be happy if tomorrow Microsoft remotely removed Office from my computer, and along with it all my documents. People are using their iPhones like a PDA/small computer. I feel like Apple is toeing a fine line between a great idea and intrusion here.

  4. AndyDrum wrote:
    On the other hand, I would not be happy if tomorrow Microsoft remotely removed Office from my computer, and along with it all my documents. People are using their iPhones like a PDA/small computer. I feel like Apple is toeing a fine line between a great idea and intrusion here.

    You’re definitely right, and I think that’s why Apple would never be so stupid to remove something that wasn’t seriously malicious (like sending your list of contacts to a remote server who then spams your friends). The backlash they’d get from removing an app for a non-security related reason would be virtually unbearable.

    P.S. Mozilla actually does something like this with their extensions as well. [cybernetnews.com]

  5. it would be very different if the file system was open.

    (the image in ryan’s above link is rather ironic for this story) :mrgreen:

  6. AndyDrum wrote:
    it would be very different if the file system was open.

    (the image in ryan’s above link is rather ironic for this story) :mrgreen:

    Very true, and I was thinking the same thing about the image when I pulled up the article. :)

  7. Michael Dobrofsky

    One second you’re reading an article on your phone about how Apple price gouges, the next second, the article disappears :D

  8. Bye bye, NetShare? :)

    I am sick of Apple being like an obsessed girlfriend that wants to control everything… but I can’t give up my shiny iPod touch. Ugh.

  9. Michael Dobrofsky wrote:
    One second you’re reading an article on your phone about how Apple price gouges, the next second, the article disappears :D

    That gave me a good laugh. :lol:

    Pieter wrote:
    Bye bye, NetShare?

    Nah, if they remove NetShare from everyone’s phone there will definitely be a backlash on them. They are the ones that posted it, and the only reason they’d be removing it is to cover up their mistake. If the app was malicious that would be a different story.

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