Apple Fail: The ridiculous guideline that’s preventing iCloud from doing what it was born to do

Here at Autriv we generally don’t announce what we’re working on until we’re ready to release, however we’ve recently encountered a setback in development for SignMyPad and SignMyPad Pro 5 and want to share the full story with our users (partially to explain the delay, but mostly to hopefully service the greater good).

SignMyPad, as some quarter million of you know, is a PDF signature application for your iPad and iPhone (also Android and, shortly, Windows, for you non-Apple folk). We love receiving feature requests from our users, and the one that we’ve seen most often is “How can I sync my PDF’s between the iPad version and the iPhone version?”. A pretty reasonable request, we felt, considering the abundance of cloud-based software cropping up on the market. So we made the decision to utilize iCloud for SignMyPad(/Pro) 5; providing you with a special folder that syncs all documents contained within it, making them accessible on all your devices. Beta testing went smoothly (yeah!) and we had it all ready for release at the beginning of the month. Why is version 5 not already on your devices making your paperless business even more convenient and efficient? Because Apple denied our use of iCloud.

iCloud, by definition, is Apple’s technology which allows data to sync between iOS devices and your computer.

Sounds exactly like what Version 5 is trying to do, right? Nonetheless we were denied for our use of iCloud. Apple’s reasoning was that they will not allow iOS applications to use iCloud to sync “non-user-generated” data between devices. After some lengthy followup, we learned that while using a “drawing application” to create a new piece of art and then saving that file would be considered “user-generated”, using our app to add a signature and content to a PDF and saving it as a new file is not “user-generated”. The exception, of course, being for Apple’s own iOS applications, like those in iWorks. So after a long phone call with Apple that equated to my logical arguments being repeatedly contested with the same sentence from an apparent script (“your app does not follow our guidelines regarding user-generated documents in iCloud”), what was their recommendation for how to get over this hurdle? Use a 3rd party iCloud competitor. Wow.

The guideline is pretty outrageous, and the recommendation to force developers to integrate with software outside of the Apple universe seems counterproductive. As developers, we are constantly struggling to stay ahead of the technology curve and best meet the needs of our users. As the foremost leader in the market for iOS devices, it is imperative that Apple support this cause, and adopt a reasonable level of flexibility in their policies that encourages, rather than discourages, the continuing progression of iOS software. It’s ironic that Apple allows syncing for gaming applications, but for a business application, specifically one that heralds environmental responsibility, they’re putting up roadblocks. For someone who has always admired Apple’s unwavering focus on the big-picture needs of their users, I’m disappointed.

So for those of you who are just skimming through this to hear about the release of the new version of SignMyPad, I apologize for the delay. Our team has been working around the clock to seamlessly integrate Apple’s recommended Third Party software and resubmit the new versions (whilst praying for a speedy approval once they are complete). For our die hard fans with a few minutes on their hands, please do let Apple know that you would really love an iCloud compatible version of SignMyPad! And for other developers, I encourage you to share similar struggles with your users—perhaps with the power of the interwebs we can actually get Apple’s attention.

Thanks for your patience and loyalty—stay tuned to our blog and Twitter feed for when we finally release on the Apple App Store.

iCloud-snapshot

© Apple.com (Screenshot from their site)

  1. Soluble Apps Reply

    “GoodReader” allows the user to synchronise PDFs using iCloud, and the PDFs were not created by the user, so Apple’s response does seem inconsistent in this case.

  2. Data Wrangler Reply

    I just left a very polite coment @ http://www.apple.com/feedback/icloud.html regarding this issue

  3. Jeremy Bee (@jeremy_bee) Reply

    I just flat out don’t believe your story here. The fact that it’s so poorly written and explained is a strong indicator to me that the facts are simply not as you make them out to be. The additional fact that the language you use is so emotional and vituperative makes me think that you have issues with logic and reason as well. This comes across like the diatribe of a teenager to me.

    • Morgan Reply

      Wow, what a DB!

      • engineer Reply

        Says the guy who can only call people names. Jeremy makes some good points. You show yourself to be a douche.

        • doodpants Reply

          I fail to see how “I think you’re a lying liar who lies” constitutes “good points”, but maybe that’s just me (and Morgan).

    • David Knuth Reply

      Jeremy,

      So, apparently your reading comprehension skills are a bit rusty, but how about we break it down:

      – Developer creates app that would like to leverage iCloud syncing as a medium of transport between devices.

      – Apple denies use of said service as a transport medium citing that they don’t believe authoring changes in a PDF constitutes creating user generated content.

      – Developer discusses issue with Apple, is given no logical arguments against their view of user generated content, and Is basically told to use a competitor’s product.

      Personally, having done a lot of technical and professional writing, I found that the article above, while not necessarily a technical document nor designed for professional consumption, to be clear, to the point, and expressing at once a disappointment for the developer and a reason for the delays to the customer.

      You see, not every company has the forethought to hire a writer with both your verbosity and acerbic wit, of which you clearly have a singular one to boast, nor one who feels the need to utilize a complex vernacular to communicate a personal, emotional reaction which offers no constructive feedback whatsoever.

      So, while the post above may be considered “juvenile” in its common vocabulary, it adequately expresses the salient points. Perhaps before you post a response as though this were some academic hall where technical points of writing might mean something, and offer a comment which does nothing but demean the originator of the document without cause, you should consider the content more carefully, the context, and the audience before passing judgement.

      After all, just because one can use extravagant language to place a colored petroleum distillate upon porcine labius oris, does not change the nature of the comment’s originator.

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  9. engineer Reply

    Justin–

    You shot yourself in the foot here. You should have emailed Phil Shiller or otherwise escalated by contacting someone in the organization – get emails from WWDC videos/slides.

    Going public like this does not help your case.

    Further, generally, this kind of story lacks a bit of credibility. There are clearly details that are left out, and those details probably matter a great deal. It’s quite possible you simply got a mistaken or bad reviewer.

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  12. Court Kizer Reply

    I call BS, apple just changed the rules for iOS 7 you can use 2GB of data per user for ANY kind of data, especially for this. So you don’t have to use outside service. This is exactly what was SHOWN at WWDC with a use case exactly like this… I want to see the denial letter…

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