OMG! Apple May Kill iPhone Apps!

It seems you can’t swing a dead cat on the Internet without running into an article about this latest proof of the Pure Evil that is Apple, Inc. (As usual, the headlines end with a question mark, which should be your first clue not to click the link.)

Oh, brother.

Meanwhile, the original discoverer of the URL in question, to his credit, is much more rational about the whole thing (see his 8/7 post):

So I post one little comment to a geek blog site about an “unauthorized apps” list downloaded by the iPhone, and every wanna-be-watergate journalist in the northern hemisphere emails me with conspiracy theories.

Allow me to set the record straight.

The locationd cache on the iPhone, located in /var/root/Library/Caches/locationd/, contains (among other things), a cache of unauthorized applications and a URL to a page on Apple’s servers where it is apparently downloaded from time to time. That’s all we know – nothing more. We do not know whether this mechanism is active, or what exactly it does.

He then goes on to say that mainstream blogs and journalists tended to overblow the thing, and it could do anything from nuke applications to spit out recipes for buttermilk pancakes.

Don’t know why the Apple watchers, bashers, tech pundits, etc. seem to think something like this must always have a dark purpose. Here’s a couple of situations where the ability to “unauthorize” an app would be good, and they seem as likely as anything else I’ve heard:

  • Allow for beta software that will expire at a certain date. The iPhone’s 100-license special installation process makes for a very limited beta. When there are tens of millions of these things a much wider beta is needed.
  • Allow for trial software. Download an app, and after two weeks, or 30 days, or whatever it’s no longer valid.

Both the above are seen as flaws in the current system, and I’d like to think Apple is looking into alternatives anyway.

Truth is, there’s no way to look at this URL and determine that it can or can’t be used for the above or anything else, especially since for all we know it’s simply the beginning of an entire process being implemented.

I’m with the original author on this.

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4 thoughts on “OMG! Apple May Kill iPhone Apps!

  1. Oh, wait. I see now what you meant by the beta software thing. Not for consumer consumption. Sorry. 🙂

  2. Your two possible situations make total sense. I agree with both though i like the “trial versions” reasoning more. I feel beta apps shouldn’t be in the App Store – Steve did say he wanted to keep the iPhone as stable as possible (although with varying degrees of success currently).

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