Daily question: Bypass Mobile Safari, get banned

Dear Developer,

We’ve reviewed your application Big Five.
We have determined that this application is of
limited utility to the broad iPhone and iPod touch
user community, and will not be published to
the App Store.


Worldwide Developer Relations
Apple Inc.

“Big Five offers an extended web browser for the iPhone that adds additional functionalities to web apps like geo location, taking photos, track acceleration, cause vibration alarm etc. This enables developers to take advantage of the iPhone features without learning Objective-C” says the website. Two videos for users and developers explain Big Five’s advantages for both sides.


Big Five is not alone in making native iPhone SDK features available to developers using JavaScript and HTML. It was “inspired by” PhoneGap, which describes itself as:

It is written in Objective-C and allows developers to embed their web app (HTML, JavaScript, CSS) in Webkit within a native iPhone app. We’re big advocates of the Open Web and want JavaScript developers to be able to get access iPhone features such as a spring board icon, background processing, push, geo location, camera, local sqlLite and accelerometers without the burden of learning Objective-C and Cocoa.


What are the chances that Apple will let a third party to fork Mobile Safari to access iPhone hardware data with an API not written by Apple?

3 thoughts on “Daily question: Bypass Mobile Safari, get banned

  1. I think this is a really sharp question. In taking the task of moderating the App Store Apple has taken the gruesome task of distinguishing between right and wrong. And it has to do so from a position where it also has a self interest to defend.

    It is quite easy to say malware has to be banned and that a cool new game that hurts no-ones interest should be allowed. I guess anti-competitive policy can be understood and justified to a certain extent. But things are changing when the “own” product is obviously worse than the competition while market power is large enough to force the crowds to still buy the “own” product.
    Nobody says Apple has bad “own” products. But it is maneuvering itself into a position where it has the power to defend bad “own” products and that certainly is a reason for concern.

    The value of the question is you show an example where the distinction between right and wrong actually isn’t so clear. Adding functionality to web apps is a great idea. Probably some functions have a lot of benefits, and we might hope Apple will add them to mobile Safari by itself, while others are not such a good idea after all for security or privacy reasons. Can we really trust Apple to make the judgement? Can we trust Apple to take our interests sufficiently into account? And if we can today, can we still do so tomorrow?

  2. The question is, why should Apple allow developers to bypass the software it uses as a standard? If they already have a mobile browser that can already do most of what you wanted it to do, why would they want to let you bypass it?

    Apple is usually very good at researching what their users want. They don’t like to add many extra features. Developers on the other hand are all about tricks and gadgets and little Easter egg extras. I’m sure you can see where a conflict may occur.

  3. When are developers going to get it? Apple won’t distribute apps that takeover the functions they already have in place and make users dependent on third parties. A podcaster? A gmail client? A web browser? Last time I checked the iPhone did all these things beautifully without your help, Mr. Developer. Next thing you know someone will be trying to publish a SMS app.

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