Was iPhone App – Peeps Unfairly Rejected by Apple for using Unpublished APIs?

iPhone App - Peeps

Apple has rejected, removed or banned quite a few iPhone apps from the App Store since its launch.

It looks like another iPhone app called Peeps has just joined that list. The app visually organizes contacts from your iPhone’s address book into an animated photo album and gives iPhone users a coverflow-like interface to browse through the contacts.

Plausible Labs, the developers of the iPhone app have published Apple’s rejection letter:

Upon review of your application, Peeps cannot be posted to the App Store due to the usage of a non-public API.  Usage of non-public APIs, as outlined in the iPhone SDK Agreement section 3.3.1, is prohibited:

"3.3.1 Applications may only use Published APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any unpublished or private APIs."

The non-public API that is included in your application comes from the CoverFlow API set.

However, developer Landon Fuller has clarified on his blog that its their own Cover flow implementation using public APIs:

We did not use private API.

He goes on provide the reasons for this (something most iPhone developers should be wary about while using unpublished APIs):

The last thing I would do is deliver time-bomb code to a paying customer.
Private API can be broken or removed at any time by the vendor, and
relying on it is unfair to your customers — they rarely have any idea
that the application they just purchased may not work next week, or next

The iPhone developer seems to think that it could be some misunderstanding. Plausible Labs have raised a support request with Apple explaining the situation and are waiting to hear back.

However, I agree with John Gruber over Daring Fireball, it is unfair to reject the iPhone app from Plausible Labs, a relatively smaller developer when the new version of Google’s app which brought voice search feature was approved even though Google publicly confirmed that they had used unpublished APIs in their app.

Whats your take?

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