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Hardware Hacking Apple Hardware

Apple Bans iFixit Repair App From App Store After Apple TV Teardown 366

alphadogg writes: iFixit, the fix-it-yourself advocate for users of Apple, Google and other gear, has had its repair manual app banned from Apple's App Store after it conducted an unauthorized teardown of Apple TV and Siri remote. iFixit blogged "we're a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA -- and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway." iFixit does still have Windows and Android apps, and has no immediate plans to rewrite its Apple app to attempt being reinstated.
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Apple Bans iFixit Repair App From App Store After Apple TV Teardown

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  • Break The NDA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:20AM (#50635253)

    They very publicly break the NDA for personal profit and expect no action? They're lucky the actions by Apple weren't more sever honestly.

    • Re:Break The NDA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:24AM (#50635285) Homepage

      But was the NDA valid?

      • Re:Break The NDA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:31AM (#50635361) Journal

        Can you buy the new Apple TV yet? I'm sure if iFixIt had waited until they could purchase one instead of using a preview unit, they wouldn't have gotten as much flack as they did. They threw caution to the wind and it boomeranged back in their face.

        • Re:Break The NDA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by danceswithtrees ( 968154 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:45AM (#50635467)

          I see your point but at the same time, what was APPL thinking giving a developer unit to iFixit, a website whose sole purpose is to take apart things?

          Apple was daring iFixit to break the NDA. Sort of like giving a two year old a marshmallow, telling him not to eat it, and then leaving the room. Who is at fault, the two year old or the person giving the marshmallow?

          • Re:Break The NDA (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:54AM (#50635529)

            I am thinking that Apple was thinking that iFixit would do a teardown of the AppleTV and keeps it under NDA, until the AppleTV units are available.
            Giving iFixit some time to prepare before putting the photos and repair guides on their website and app.

            I think Apple doesn't mind iFixit, Apple probably supplies most of the spare parts to iFixit.

            I think Apple does mind that iFixit breaks the NDA, and I am not sure but the App was probably rejected because the contents contained information that was under NDA.

          • I see your point but at the same time, what was APPL thinking giving a developer unit to iFixit, a website whose sole purpose is to take apart things?

            I'm just spit-balling here but maybe Apple thought that iFixit would be working on an app for the new AppleTV SDK instead of taking apart the unit which they were told they could not do.

          • Re:Break The NDA (Score:5, Insightful)

            by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @11:26AM (#50635781) Homepage Journal

            Presumably so they can study it, do their teardown, prepare their materials etc, and then wait until the product is released before publishing their results.

          • Re:Break The NDA (Score:5, Interesting)

            by nblender ( 741424 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @11:31AM (#50635823)
            The person giving the marshmallow.

            But if you give a 30 year old a marshmallow, and tell him not to eat it, then leave the room and he eats it, then it's his fault.

            Grownups are supposed to know better.
          • It seems likely that the developer account would be registered in the developer's name (perhaps Kyle Wiens), or perhaps in the company name, which is probably something like IFI LLC. It probably wasn't registered using the domain name of the web site.

              So even assuming someone at Apple looks at all new developer accounts, how are they to know that Kyle Wiens is associated with ifixit.com? Should Apple launch an investigation of everyone who wants a developer account?

          • By that logic, people shouldn't be getting angry at Apple for revoking their "developer" status. It's like if, after the two year old ate the marshmallow, Mom came in and said, "Ok, I'm not leaving you alone with any candy anymore."

            If you can't blame the kid for eating the marshmallow, then you can't blame Mom for refusing to trust the kid with more marshmallows.

    • Only Apple gets to see how things are done ... and then go replicate it (Xerox PARC 1979).

      • I didn't read anywhere where iFixit paid Apple millions in IPO stock for the opportunity to look at the new AppleTV and meetings with Apple engineers as well as the rights to develop anything they learned from the engineers. Only then could you compare the two situations.
    • I don't know what actions Apple might do in the future like never lending them a developer unit again to legal action. Apple could sue iFixit into oblivion if they wanted.
  • While I like iFixIt they purposefully broke the terms of the agreement and got their just punishment.

    • Do we know that or does it even matter in this case? Apple can remove apps from it's site for any reason it wants.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The fact that this phrase even exists is a testament to how fucked up things have gotten.

    • Not that I agree with it, but being that Apple approves apps to be published - by allowing this fixit app, aren't they endorsing this behavior as equal as having the iDevice officially serviced by Apple? Doesn't that send a crossed message of "By all means, fix your iDevice, we just won't cover the warranty if you break it. You will only find out later after the fact BTW"?

    • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:38AM (#50635419)

      No it isn't. Apple LENT them a unit, and they tore it down. If I lend you a lawnmower, and with out my permission (unauthorised) you pull it apart, then I'm going to punish you too.

      If iFixit waited till they could buy their own in store, then tore that down, then there wouldn't be a problem.

      • No it isn't. Apple LENT them a unit, and they tore it down. If I lend you a lawnmower, and with out my permission (unauthorised) you pull it apart, then I'm going to punish you too.

        Even better, if I lent you my trade secret patented lawn mover v. 3.0 (TM) then you know better than to tell the world how I designed and built it, Jackass.

        NDA applies, because I don't want to give my knockoff copycats a head start to market.

      • No it isn't. Apple LENT them a unit, and they tore it down. If I lend you a lawnmower, and with out my permission (unauthorised) you pull it apart, then I'm going to punish you too.

        If iFixit waited till they could buy their own in store, then tore that down, then there wouldn't be a problem.

        If you send a free lawnmover to a lawnmover pulling apart company, I would assume you intended for them to pull it apart, since that is the only thing they do with lawnmovers.

  • iFixit blog link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Imabug ( 2259 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:26AM (#50635321) Homepage Journal

    bad link to the iFixit blog link

    here's the correct one
    http://ifixit.org/blog/7401/if... [ifixit.org]

  • One of the reasons people buy iDevices (and Macs to a certain extent) is the fact that everything is provided in a neat little package that just works. The downsides are that you don't get to question how it works, and therefore Apple can just yank your app (and therefore your direct or ad revenue) if they decide they don't like you. Ironically, this is also a strength for the platform - they control the hardware and software. Android's wild west app store is a lot more chaotic, as is their hardware outside

    • by bongey ( 974911 )
      Apple devices do NOT "just work". The bluetooth on my new ipod touch didn't work correctly. WTF they can't get bluetooth to work correctly? All my android devices worked with the same bluetooth devices. Just a quick google search and you will find others with flaky bluetooth.
    • by Wovel ( 964431 )

      They don't. iFixit buys things and takes them apart all the time and Apple has never complained. In this case, Apple gave the a unit after they agreed to an NDA and iFixit violated the NDA. Why is this so hard to grasp.

  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @10:42AM (#50635449) Homepage

    “Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

    Oh, unless they do things that we don't like. Then we ban them.

    • Oh, unless they do things that we don't like. Then we ban them.

      Did you RTFA to see that the AppleTV they took apart was one that Apple lent them? That as a preview developer unit, many companies like Apple have explicit terms and conditions for their equipment such not disassembling and posting it all over the internet products that they don't sell yet as it gives their competitors an advantage.

      • by enjar ( 249223 )

        This is slashdot, and there is a fine tradition of NEVER reading the article first.

  • Slowly, but surely, Apple is making the Apple Walled Garden a place where you can only sing the Apple-sanctioned songs.
  • While I am all for being able to do anything to my personal devices, I believe they did a tear down on a Development kit of the Apple TV which they distributed to app creators. I'm sure there was a clause regarding tear down and app removal.
  • "and the offending developer account had been banned."

    So make a new developer account and resubmit the same app to the store? Why would they need to rewrite it?

  • Clarifications: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Schnapple ( 262314 ) <[tomkidd] [at] [viatexas.com]> on Thursday October 01, 2015 @11:16AM (#50635687) Homepage
    The summary is pretty bad on this one.

    Right after the Apple TV 4 (ATV4) was officially announced, Apple put a form on their Developer's site to give some of them away to developers. These are pre-release units, and the packaging on them even says "Developer's Edition" or something on it. There was a (since pulled) eBay auction [9to5mac.com] showing the packaging.

    Part of the agreement in getting this unit was an NDA which stipulated, amongst other things, that you can't take it apart.

    iFixit got an ATV4 as part of the giveaway and decided to violate the NDA and get an exclusive article in the process. Since the developer program was what they used to get the ATV4, the developer program is what they were kicked out of. As a result their iOS app got yanked as well.

    Several people have noted that their iOS app hadn't been updated in years (may still have been on the 3.5" screen) and so the app itself isn't much of a loss. The summary says something about being "rewritten" but that doesn't make any sense - if iFixit were to get another developer account they could just put the same app up again from the same source code. The content of the app is not what was offensive to Apple, it was the NDA violation. It may need to be upgraded for modern phones (i.e., be adaptive to the iPhone 6/6+ screen sizes) but it doesn't need to be rewritten in order to adhere to Apple's policies.

    iFixit entered into an agreement with Apple that had consequences. It violated that agreement and so it's suffering the consequences. Which it knew would happen and it didn't care about. And since it's an old app that's being pulled it's not much of a loss to them, not compared to the exclusive early article and coverage this stunt's consequences has given them.

    But to clarify for everyone, this wasn't a review unit, it wasn't on loan, it was a unit Apple gave them and other developers in order to develop for it early before the actual thing is released. And really, a number of developers didn't get these units and so to some extent the idea that iFixit got one not intending to write an app for it but instead just want to tear it down for page clicks and ad impressions is sort of offensive. If they had waited for the thing to be in stores and bought one retail and then tore it apart they would be in the clear.
  • I can see it's obvious that Apple had recourse to some legal action as iFixit essentially took their property apart without permission/authorization. However, if they wanted to punish iFixit they should have done it through the courts. Just arbitrarily removing their app from the app store could have legal repercussions for Apple if iFixit decide to pursue them.
    • by Wovel ( 964431 )

      It wasn't arbitrary at all. The recourse under the NDA was removal from the program. That is what Apple did.

  • What the headline isn't telling you is that what they tore down wasn't a retail unit, it was a developer unit. And Apple didn't specifically pull the iFixit app, they canceled the developer account for violations of the developer agreement.

    I don't like Apple or their secretiveness, but in this case, it seems to me they are in the right: if you get a developer unit under a special development agreement, you should abide by your agreement.

    • Agreed. I expect that after the retail units hit the shelves and then after some additional "penalty box" time their app will re-emerge.

      They kicked a dog and got bit as a result. Hard to see how Apple did anything wrong here.

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