‘Shiny Bubbles’ Make iPhone Developer Blue

A high-profile developer is taking issue with Apple’s decisions in approving or rejecting iPhone apps — crying foul over a rejection due to the bubble design appearing in his app’s chat room.

Joe Stump, former lead architect at Digg, a few months ago released Chess Wars, an iPhone game that uses Facebook Connect to allow users who are friends at the social networking site to play against each other on their handsets.

Earlier today, Stump posted a rant on his blog against Apple in which he criticized the company’s silence regarding a six-week delay in letting him know whether a fix he had issued — to correct some bugs in the iPhone app — had been approved.

After the post went live and began circulating around the blogosphere, Stump said an Apple rep informed him that the updated Chess Wars app had actually been rejected — because the “bubbles” in its chat room design were too “shiny” and therefore too closely resemble Apple’s own user interface “bubbles”.

Stump wrote in a later update that Apple advised him to change his design.

“They said they were rejecting the application because our in-game chat looked too much like Apple’s SMS application,” he wrote. “I’ve asked if we changed our chat bubbles to look like Facebook’s [whether] we’d be allowed in. What pisses me off most about this, and what I conveyed to our contact at Apple, was that it took a widely publicized profanity laced blog post to get their attention.

“I asked, specifically, why it took weeks to get such a simple response of ‘Hey, change the chat and we’re good’… Just got off the phone with Apple while I was writing this blog post and they told me, no joke, that the chat bubbles are, in fact, trademarked. Furthermore, they suggested I could, among other suggestions make them ‘less shiny.'”

Spokespeople for Apple did not respond to calls for comment by press time.

However, in response, the company in the past has said that it’s stringent approval process ensures that only quality applications make it into the App Store.

Stump’s report comes at a time when the sanctioning of iPhone apps comes under scrutiny, both by developers who claim the process is inconsistent and lacks transparency, as well as the FCC, which recently looked into the handling of Apple’s handling of a submitted VoIP app from Google.

Stump’s run-in with Apple also comes on the heels of last week’s news that Apple required another developer, Bjango, to remove a specific feature from its iStat app.

The firm told InternetNews.com in an e-mail that Apple’s unilateral moves are hurting innovation in the sector.

“We were surprised they demanded the removal of the ‘Free Memory’ feature mainly because we don’t believe it violated any rules. Apple demanded we removed the feature and we were told if we didn’t remove it they would remove the app from sale. We are very disappointed at the lack of reasoning from Apple and for not giving us any ability to dispute the decision,” the company said.

“We have enjoyed creating iPhone applications but we are disturbed at some of the recent decisions by Apple both in this case and in cases with other developers. The dictatorship of the App Store is limiting the creativity of developers and is resulting in users missing out on software that has been allowed on other, more open platforms,” it added.

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