Thoughts on the App Store

Subforum for discussion and help with ScummVM's iPhone port

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Vinterstum
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Post by Vinterstum »

Charlii wrote:I just noticed that Frotz was just released in the AppStore. Since this application is similar to ScummVM in some ways, I wondered if this is in any way an indication that Apple do allow this kind of apps, regardless of their maze-like terms.
The thing is: Whether Frotz got through to the App Store due to Apple not caring about their own EULA (or having a different intention/policy from what's actually written in it), or whether it just slipped through (which has happened to several apps that since have gotten pulled), doesn't really matter.

ScummVM would STILL be in violation, and I'm hesitant to spend all the effort required for an official port on the -chance- that it gets through. If and when Apple clarifies things, I'd be happy to do it however.

The clause about interpreted code isn't maze-like at all, for example, it's pretty clear cut. Apple may have -intended- it to only apply to, say, an app containing a Java VM and the functionality to download Java apps from arbitrary locations, but that's far more specific than what's currently in the EULA.

Edit: Oh and while the NDA is in effect, you CAN'T publish anything from the GPL on the app store. Simply because doing so means you're required to publish the source code to whoever downloads your app, and the NDA prohibits sharing code that uses the official SDK. So they're fundamentally incompatible. That some people ignore this and still publish GPL-licensed apps on the App Store doesn't change that :).

trondah
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Post by trondah »

Switch ScummVM to BSD license already :)

spathiwa
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Frotz and ScummVM on App Store

Post by spathiwa »

Hi guys,

I'm the author of Frotz for iPhone and I thought I'd share my experience with the App Store.

I talked to a couple Apple engineers at the Apple WWDC in June who agreed that the iPhone SDK EULA was written in overly broad language and thought that the intent was to prevent 1) arbitrary executable code that might pose a security risk or 2) downloadable content that could bypass the iTMS revenue stream. They weren't lawyers and didn't speak for the company, but it was enough to encourage me to do the work to make it work with the SDK and improve the interface.

Maybe I got lucky, but I hope this bodes well for ScummVM's chances too, because I'd love to see it on the App Store.

Regarding how to get games onto the phone:

Besides building in a web download portal, I made it interoperate with File Magnet. This was mentioned earlier in this thread but then dismissed as not possible. The sandboxing actually doesn't prevent you from reading other app's files, only writing, so I was able to locate the File Magnet file store and load games from there. I don't see any reason why this wouldn't work for ScummVM as well, in addition to whatever other means you come up with.
Last edited by spathiwa on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

fingolfin
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Post by fingolfin »

spathiwa, thanks for sharing this with us.

However, I still don't think we can do this. The Apple engineers are indeed not lawyers -- they may have rightfully explained what they consider to be the spirit of the EULA, but fact is that the letter of the EULA (which counts) clearly forbids ScummVM, and also Frotz, from being distributed via the AppStore.

Secondly, the GPL and the NDA protected SDK are not compatible, not just in the letter but also in spirit.

Thirdly, also incompatible with the GPL is the fact that one can only use Apple-certified versions of an app via the AppStore. However, the GPL requires that everybody can get the sourcecode, make changes, then create a new binary and try that. AFAIK (I may be wrong here), this is not possible.

So, in conclusion, it still doesn't matter that you either got lucky or that Apple apparently doesn't take its EULA seriously (at least for the moment -- knowing Apple, they could reverse that stance at any given time).

spathiwa
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Interpreters and licenses

Post by spathiwa »

Well, the NDA will expire eventually, leaving only the SDK's EULA.

The EULA actually mentions and specifically permits Free and Open Source Software, so long as its license does not attempt to encompass the non-FOSS parts of the SDK.

GPLV3 is not compatible, but GPLV2 is! This is why TiVo and other hardware manufacturers which don't provide a way for users to compile code for the device were able to use it, and why Stallman was so interested in plugging these holes in creating V3.

This still leaves the restriction against interpreters. From a technical perspective it's pretty clear what an interpreter is, but the word needs a legal definition, and it's not defined in the EULA preamble. So yes, it's up to Apple's whim, but I think there is wiggle room because interpreter is not clearly defined in the document, and Frotz's approval provides evidence that they are not concerned about this type of interpreter.

I have a contact at Apple through my employer. I will ask him about this issue and see if I can get any official word from Apple regarding this.
Last edited by spathiwa on Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

fingolfin
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Post by fingolfin »

Where did you learn that the NDA will expire eventually? This is new to me. But good news nevertheless :)

Anyway, my stance on this is a rather more fundamental one, and to be frank, I am not interested in us "wiggling through" -- why should we wiggle, and bend both the word of their NDA & EULA, as well as the spirit of the GPL, just to fix some seriously stupid things Apple did there?

So, if that "official word" will be that Apple officially drops the silly NDA and changes the EULA to be explicitly compatible with bytecode interpreters, we can reconsider things. (BTW, I don't really feel any sympathy for their desire to try to block our Java engines or Flash, for that matter).

sb742
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Post by sb742 »

fingolfin

I have to say, as an iPod touch owner unwilling to jailbreak my iPod I find it really frustrating that I can't play Monkey Island or some of my other favourites on the iPod without breaking my warranty.

If ScummVM were released on the App Store I think it would easily become one of the No1 apps.

I understand you have some big ideological problem with Apple, but can you remember that ScummVM fans like me are losing out at the moment.

Could you please provide a list of your concerns so that they can better be addressed. Perhaps class them as 'Necessities' and 'Would-be-nice'?

EDIT:

Vinterstum said in another thread that he was getting an SDK compatible version compiling.

Is it possible this could be realeased (on the web) with some alternative means of getting the app onto the iPhone (without jailbreaking).

I understand it is possible to have an App on your system and transfer it to the iPod with a iTunes Sync.

fingolfin
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Post by fingolfin »

First, to clarify one thing: I have been an Apple user for well over a decade, and programmed for MacOS since OS 6. I love Apple. I don't have ideological problems with them, mostly :)

Our concerns are only partially based on "ideology" (or rather, moral). Fact is, the AppStore EULA specifically prohibits applications which execute some kind of bytecode. Which is the *central* function of ScummVM. As such, Apple explicitly forbids us (and also Frotz, and other similar apps) on the AppStore. They may admit the program anyway, by accident or on purpose -- but if somebody explicitly tells me I should not enter his house, I will of course adhere to this request. If somebody else then tells me "gee, it's OK actually, just help yourself to the fridge, he doesn't mind", I will not follow up on that. The advice might be correct, sure -- or it might to stir up a legal hornet's nest. I don't want to find out, to be frank.

Now, if Apple changes the EULA, we can reevaluate the whole thing, but the EULA alone is enough to stop us, and clearly Apple is the only one able to do something about it. Ball is in their court.

Of course, the NDA on their SDK is the next (but somewhat lesser) stumbling stone. It is explicitly incompatible with open source, by not allowing one to disclose any details about the SDK, the headers etc. to the public. Which is of course silly, given that everybody can get "into" that NDA... Still, they tell us they want to be incompatible, so we honor their request. BTW, the Apple iPhone SDK license agreement is so secret, that they set the PDF to disallow copying text from it. Else I could copy & paste some of the things it asks Developers to do ... :(


It is a pity that fans like you are losing out at the moment. But in my eyes, the only one who can do something about this is Apple. Not us.

sb742
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Post by sb742 »

Thank you for your considered reply.

Is there anything in what I was saying here:
Vinterstum said in another thread that he was getting an SDK compatible version compiling.

Is it possible this could be realeased (on the web) with some alternative means of getting the app onto the iPhone (without jailbreaking).

I understand it is possible to have an App on your system and transfer it to the iPod with a iTunes Sync.
I actually sort of managed it myself earlier with Scummvm.App posing as a freeware game in my Mobile Applications folder. However iTunes came up with an error when syncing ScummVm onto the ipod. I really didn't try for long though and it was a clumsy job.

Thanks

Sam

trondah
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Post by trondah »

fingolfin wrote:-- why should we wiggle, and bend both the word of their NDA & EULA, as well as the spirit of the GPL, just to fix some seriously stupid things Apple did there?
Because ScummVM + iPhone is a match made in heaven, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow? :)

fingolfin
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Post by fingolfin »

trondah wrote:
fingolfin wrote:-- why should we wiggle, and bend both the word of their NDA & EULA, as well as the spirit of the GPL, just to fix some seriously stupid things Apple did there?
Because ScummVM + iPhone is a match made in heaven, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow? :)
Actually, I do not agree that they are match made in heaven (controlling point and click adventures with your fingertips apparently can be *very* annoying, esp. in those games where you have to do pixel hunting).

But more to the point, luckily, I do not have to go with the flow, I am not earning any money with ScummVM :)

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Vinterstum
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Post by Vinterstum »

Guys, just let it go, and jailbreak already. You won't break anything, and your phone/iPod will reach a whole new level of usefulness.

Just getting a version compiled for the official sdk is easy, leaving out the (necessary) features of a transfer mechanism and auto saving. However, the appstore is the -only- way of getting an app into a non-jailbroken phone (excepting registered developers).

Given how many people have jailbroken already and how few have broken their phone (haven't seen -any- reports, from people using the proper tools), i'd say you're more likely to be hit by lightning on a sunny day.

maxd
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Post by maxd »

Sadly, jailbreaking isn't an option for everyone. Loading apps through Cydia or Installer.app bypasses any semblance of security on the iPhone, and those of us with corporate email and similar connections on our iPhone aren't going to jailbreak it.

I have been reading this thread with interest, and it is definitely a grey area. Apple's NDA is historically naive and I have been led to believe it will be updated shortly. Compatibility with the GPL exists, as the nice developer of Frotz explained, so the only outstanding issue is the "may not execute interpreted code" clause, which could definitely be worked around.

What I'd love to see is a release which those of us who are registered iPhone developers can load onto our unjailbroken iPhones :)

Cheers,

Max

trondah
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Post by trondah »

Actually, I do not agree that they are match made in heaven (controlling point and click adventures with your fingertips apparently can be *very* annoying, esp. in those games where you have to do pixel hunting).
I think that depends on how the controls are done.
But more to the point, luckily, I do not have to go with the flow, I am not earning any money with ScummVM :)
That's too bad that you don't (earn any money), I'd be more than willing to pay for ScummVM, and I'm sure others are too. Mac users are not known to be cheap.

maxd
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Post by maxd »

Apple drops iPhone NDA; now you can publish GPL programs on the AppStore without any problems.

Now the only outstanding problem to publishing on the AppStore is your concern that executing interpreted code is a bad thing which, from my understanding of the EULA, is a non problem.

Woo!

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