Analyzing the top news stories across the web

Dec. 17 2014 12:25 PM

It’s Surprisingly Easy to Access Facebook’s Source Code. Does That Matter?

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

A bunch of tech commentators on Hacker News are talking about how easy it is to read Facebook source code, and some say it could pose a risk to the social media site. Users can literally look inside snapshots of Facebook’s digital world because its engineers dumped a load of information in Pastebin, which is a platform for storing and sharing text.

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The discussion is a reaction to a recent post on the Sinthetic Labs blog. A guy called Nathan Malcolm explains how, in 2013, he was fixing “a few bugs” while using software development tools and “ended up finding about a lot more about Facebook’s internals that I intended.” Sinthetic Labs is a security research group. Malcolm says all he did was Google an error message and ended up finding a specific link to a Pastebin post. As he investigated further, he stumbled across various pieces of data that paint a picture of what Facebook looks like behind the scenes—in a digital sense, anyway.

He found what looked to be names, commands, and other “interesting information.” As you’ll see in an example below, the code probably won't mean much to most people, but letting it roam free on the internet “probably wasn't the smartest move,” Malcolm says.

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Oh, look: Facebook code.

Sinthetic Labs

When discussing some of the files (not the image above), Malcolm explains:

The person who, likely, posted this was “emir.” This may be the person’s first name, or it could be their first initial and then their surname (E. Mir). It’s clear this output was intended to be seen by another engineer at Facebook, so posting it on Pastebin probably wasn’t the smartest move. This person may have made other slip ups which could make them a target if an attacker sees an opportunity.

Malcolm concedes that his findings don’t really pose a direct threat to Facebook, but suggests the resources could in extreme circumstances. He even found Facebook’s password for MySQL—the open-source database management system. Crucially, Malcolm says Facebook’s servers are heavily firewalled, so the information is effectively useless unless “you manage to break into Facebook’s servers,” he notes.

Overall, lots of people appear simply amazed at how easy it is to see this stuff. One comment on Hacker News says that “while some leaks may not even be effective outside Facebook’s internal network ... having actual code that may be in production does pose a risk. The possibility to see where, for instance, data isn’t fully sanitized, or where information being fetched might not require proper authentication is more worrying.”

Another person mentions another source of files. They say: “I’m amazed at how many username/passwords are freely available via github search.” The bottom line is, “If you do not want someone to find it—do not publish it online.”

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Dec. 16 2014 2:09 PM

Autoplay Video Could Be the Next Step of Twitter’s “Facebookification”

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Twitter is debating internally whether to launch a feature that would see videos begin automatically as users scroll through their timelines, sources have told Adweek

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One industry insider called the debate "a tug of war." It's a move that would no doubt please advertisers, as more people's eyes would be attracted to their branded content and ads, but could send users running as videos begin to clutter up the feed.

Twitter autoplay video would build on the company's Amplify ad program, in which the company works with sports and entertainment brands to sell sponsorships against live-streamed video. Autoplay video may have been the vision behind Twitter's June acquisition of SnappyTV, a service that allows for the clipping, editing, and sharing of clips from live broadcasts in near real-time. An autoplay feature could also help drive up the price of Twitter video ads, which a source told Adweek were relatively cheap at about 2 cents per view, versus $1 per view on other social platforms.

Business Insider has spoken to several industry sources about the potential autoplay video rollout. None could confirm hearing of an autoplay launch date, but the sources all agreed it would make sense as Twitter continues its "Facebookification." Twitter is also playing catch-up to the Facebook-owned photography and video app Instagram, which announced earlier this week it had overtaken Twitter in terms of users—Instagram, too, has an autoplay video feature.

Jan Rezab, CEO of the social-media analytics company Socialbakers, told Business Insider: "Twitter already has auto-expand photos in the feed—and remember, it was the first to launch autoplay, with Vine [although these don't autoplay in the feed, only when they are expanded]—but with Facebook's autoplay videos and YouTube announcing a few days ago it will launch autoplay, Twitter has been left behind.

"Autoplay is much more attractive because it just works better. Facebook is proving that; it is accumulating huge amounts of video views."

Data from Socialbakers given to Business Insider earlier this month showed that for the first time ever, Facebook Page owners uploaded more videos directly to Facebook than shared YouTube videos in November. Facebook's autoplay video feature seems to be so attractive, it's carving off a huge slice of YouTube’s audience.

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Socialbakers

Socialbakers also found Facebook videos drive more engagement than YouTube videos shared on the platform.

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Socialbakers

Dec. 16 2014 12:42 PM

McDonald’s Japan Is Having a French Fry Crisis

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

McDonald's will cut down on portions of French fries from its menus in Japan, as the fast food restaurant faces a shortage of frozen potatoes, the Financial Times reports.

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The website wrote that from Wednesday onwards McDonald's will only sell small portions of French fries. This is due to a shortage of imported potatoes caused by labor dispute at a port on the US West Coast.

The crisis is partly the result of prolonged negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association, which manages 29 American ports, and 20,000 dockworkers who have been without contract from June.

Japan is the biggest Asian market for American French fries, importing $336 million in frozen potato products last year.

The Financial Times reports that McDonald's, which has taken steps to fly in over 1,000 tons of frozen potatoes to face the situation, still does not know how long the crisis will affect its Asian restaurants. More supplies shipped on a different route are expected between January and February.

Dec. 15 2014 12:50 PM

An Ex-Apple Engineer’s New App Turns Your iPad Into a Second Display for Your Mac

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Duet Display is an app designed to get you some extra use out of your iPad. Instead of letting your iPad collect dust when you’re not using it, Duet Display turns it into a second display for your Mac, using the iPad’s charging chord to connect to your computer. The app was created by Rahul Dewan, an engineer who worked at Apple for three years on the iPad and iMac.

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“A second display can increase productivity up to 48 percent,” Dewan told Business Insider. “If you have an iPad, you already have that second screen. With Duet, you can finally use it. Otherwise, your $700 device is just sitting there.”

In addition to giving you extra screen real estate (which is great for musicians, designers, and photo and video editors), Duet Display also takes advantage of the iPad’s touch capabilities, allowing you to tap and scroll through whatever you choose to drag over to the second display.

While other apps like Air Display already exist that will turn your iPad into a second display, those apps connect your iPad to your Mac using WiFi, which leads to a lot of lag. Duet Display, on the other hand, has zero lag, and it also offers a true Retina resolution that takes full advantage of the iPad’s HD display.

Duet Display also offers energy-saving options for people using older Macs that aren’t as powerful. You can choose between regular and Retina resolution (you’ll need a newer Mac for Retina mode to work seamlessly), but you can also switch between a 30 Hz and 60 Hz refresh rate.

Setting up Duet Display is a cinch. You just download the app on your iPad and for your Mac, restart your computer, and you’re ready to go.

Because my work computer is a Mac Mini, I stuck to the regular resolution along with a 60 Hz refresh rate, and it worked well without any hiccups. While the Retina resolution certainly makes everything crisper, it also puts more work on your computer, but if you have a more recent Mac you should be all set.

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Duet Display is great for keeping an eye on Twitter or Slack.

Business Insider

In use, Duet Display performed exactly how I’d like it to. I could drag a webpage with my Twitter feed or Slack over to my iPad’s screen, and you can tap fullscreen to have whatever window you’re displaying expand to fill the entire screen. YouTube videos played back smoothly, and I even played a game of Hearthstone just to see if it worked for games. (It does, but most of the time it makes more sense to just game on your primary display.)

Duet Display also works in either portrait or landscape mode.

Another bonus feature is that you can technically use Duet Display to turn your iPad into your only display, though that feature only works if you disable your Mac login, since Duet Display only works after you’ve logged in.

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Duet Display

Most importantly, Duet Display is the first app that actually turns your iPad into a second display I’d actually like to use. As someone who has tried Air Display and uninstalled it shortly afterward, frustrated,  I can honestly say this is the only option that’s worth it.

Duet Display launches Monday, and you’ll be able to download the app right here.

Dec. 15 2014 12:08 PM

Yo, What Happened to Yo?

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

There was a time when Yo was one of the biggest apps in the world. For four days in June 2014, Yo ruled the App Store charts, skyrocketing from obscurity to become, at its peak, the fourth-most popular app in the U.S. But now, months after its meteoric rise to fame, Yo has all but disappeared, dismissed as a novelty app by many of the users who embraced it. Despite the change in its fortunes, Yo has been hiring staff, relocating the company from Israel to San Francisco, and attracting global brands to its platform.

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Business Insider met with Yo CEO Or Arbel in London to discuss the app’s sudden and unexpected rise to fame, as well as the company’s attempt to save itself. Sitting in a central London restaurant, Arbel was using the downtime between meetings to work on Yo, writing code on his laptop amid the noise.

Yo started life when Moshe Hogeg, chief executive of Israeli startup Mobli, mentioned to his friend Arbel, a former employee, that he wanted a simple app to call his assistant. Arbel liked the idea, and turned it into Yo after eight hours of coding. Yo is indeed a simple app: At its launch the only thing you could do was send the word Yo to another user. 

There was an initial flurry of press after Yo launched on April Fool's day. Tech blogger Robert Scoble posted about the app on Facebook, but Yo didn’t receive widespread interest. It launched with an ambitious aim: Arbel wanted to accrue many users quickly. But it didn’t quite go to plan. “The plan said that we should acquire 250,000 users by the first two weeks, and we launched at the beginning of April and we didn’t get that. We got 50,000 for the whole two months.”

“It took about two months to decide to leave my current startup and do Yo full-time. And after I decided to go to San Francisco, I got a phone call from Tim at the Financial Times and another guy from ThinkProgress, and then the article came.”

It’s possible to trace Yo’s sudden boost in popularity to a blog post written by the Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw* on June 18. The post described Yo as “messaging without the messages,” although it also said that the app was “ridiculous.” After the Financial Times post went live, Twitter users began to try Yo for themselves, often sharing mocking posts about it on Twitter.

The wave of lighthearted interest in Yo, often coming from journalists and bankers on Twitter, introduced Yo to an influential audience. Suddenly, everyone was on Yo.

Although the app seems like a useless novelty, its simplicity is also its strength. If you want to tell someone you’re OK without racking up a phone bill or incurring data charges, sending a Yo over WiFi does the job. In fact, any kind of confirmation between two people can be reduced to a Yo in the right circumstances: Send a Yo when you get off the plane. Send a Yo when you get out of your meeting. Send a Yo when you’re thinking about me so I know you love me. Israelis use it to warn of incoming missile attacks. And so on.

We asked Arbel what it was like to watch his app go viral: “It was pretty crazy. There was a lot of stuff to do. What was it like? Sleepless nights. It was just hard keeping the service up, all the interviews, and everything together. Then we got hacked.”

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The message posted after Yo was hacked.

Twitter

Days after its rise to the top of the App Store charts, a gang of hackers set their sights on Yo. They discovered how to manipulate the app to display messages, and even figured out how to reveal users’ phone numbers. They sent a text message to Arbel to let him know what had happened. 

The hack might have ended the lives of other, less resilient companies, but Yo persevered. “It was like a month, between two weeks and a month, when everybody was talking about it. All the newspapers, all the media. We got a million downloads in four days. And then some more.”

Yo’s success didn’t last. Its novelty wore off, and users started leaving the app. Despite adding new features like sharing links and locations, Yo slipped back down the App Store rankings.

The red line in the chart below shows Yo’s ranking in the U.S. social networking category, while the blue line shows its overall App Store ranking. It’s stayed pretty popular in the sparse social networking category, but has fallen out of the top 1,000 apps overall.

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App Annie

Business Insider asked Arbel how Yo plans to reverse that decline and bring the app back to the top of the App Store:

“We didn’t spend a dime so far on marketing. ... This graph is obviously, if you get everyone and all the press to talk about you, then obviously when everyone stops talking about you it’s going to go down. But the way we’re going to correct the graph and go up is by making the app useful and letting people know that it’s useful. That’s the only way.

"We obviously want to bring back everyone who was thinking that Yo was this stupid app, we’re gonna do a lot of marketing to let them know that Yo is not that anymore."

Many people see Yo’s decline in popularity as a normal event for lighthearted app, as something to be accepted. But for Yo’s founder, it’s a problem. “If Yo needs to exist, it needs to make money. It’s a business. There are employees, and offices to rent. Currently there are 10 employees. We are still growing and hiring.”

Part of that growth has involved signing up some well-known names to the service. Organizations like the NBA, Chelsea Football Club, and General Electric have opened accounts on Yo. We asked Arbel how the app finds them.

“Some of these names come to us, and some of these names, we come to them. We show the platform, the dashboard, and how easy it is to use it. It’s very easy to use the app and we take this approach also on how we let businesses use our platform, and it’s very, very simple. You can broadcast a link with Yo to thousands of users in one tap, and you can get a lot of information on what’s going on with your links very easily.”

Now that the brands are on the app, is Yo going to start charging them to send enhanced Yos?

“Yeah. But businesses will never be able to send a Yo to someone who didn’t opt into their service. It’s not yet determined, but the simple plan is if a business gets value out of our platform, the business will have to pay for using our platform.”

*Correction, Dec. 15, 2014This post originally misidentified Financial Times writer Tim Bradshaw as Tim Bradford.

Dec. 13 2014 9:00 AM

Smaller Android Phone Manufacturers Are Giving Samsung a Headache 

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Samsung has a challenging year coming up. Its profits have been tanking throughout 2014, mostly because its high-end Galaxy smartphones aren't selling as well as they used to. Sales of its flagship Galaxy S5 phone did not meet company expectations. A lot of Samsung's recent misfortunes can be tied to the rise of smaller Android phone manufacturers like Xiaomi and OnePlus. Those startups make Android phones that are just as good as Samsung's best phones but cost half as much. Xiaomi's phones are so popular that the company is now the third-largest smartphone vendor in the world and the top vendor in China.

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Samsung's challenge for next year will be to find a way to differentiate its Galaxy phones from the rest of the cheap, generic Android devices out there. That's part of the reason why Apple's iPhone sales continue to grow. The iPhone may be expensive, but it provides a unique experience. Samsung can't say the same thing about its phones. Its hardware designs and additional software features to Android don't offer enough to justify spending an extra $300 or $400 over a Xiaomi device.

On Friday, the Android-watchers were buzzing about a new leak from Samsung on a Dutch website. Some think it's the next flagship Galaxy S6 phone. Others think it's another phone called the A7.

Whether it's the next flagship phone from Samsung or not, we most likely have a peek at what at least one of Samsung's new 2015 devices will look like. (It's not a final version of the phone, and things could change, but it's probably very close to what the product will look like when it launches. It could also be a fake.)

Whatever this thing is, it doesn't look that much different from what we saw this year and the year before. It's still mostly plastic. It probably has some metal around the edges like the new Galaxy Note 4, but it still looks like any other Samsung device. If this really is a taste at what Samsung has planned for 2015, it could be another tough year for the company. On the other hand, it's entirely possible Samsung has dreamed up some crazy-cool new software features for the new phone that'll make it stand out. It's a stretch to think that, but anything's possible. And keep in mind, Samsung isn't totally hosed. It's a massive company that makes everything from washing machines to medical equipment. Even if its profitable mobile division is faltering, there's still plenty of opportunity to research the next big thing.

We've heard one aspect of that will be "the Internet of things," which means appliances and other household stuff that you control over the Internet. Plus, the smartwatch market is just getting started. But in the near-term, Samsung needs to really wow the world with its 2015 smartphone lineup. Otherwise, it's going to be another tough year.

Dec. 13 2014 8:00 AM

Researchers Finally Figured out Why Doctors’ Waiting Rooms Have Such Crappy Magazines

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

When waiting for the receptionist to call your name in the doctor's office, you are powerless. You can't go anywhere. You don't know how long it will take. There isn't much to do. Some people play Candy Crush or Threes on their iPhone. Others tweet things tagged #waitingroom. And some of us read. At least, in a good-faith effort, there's usually a thick pile of magazines. But when you go over to pick through the stacks, there's another problem. Most of the magazines are crappy and old.

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Why? After all, your doctor and the rest of the people working in the office are smart and presumably just as interested in good reading material as you are. So what's up with the subpar selection?

Researchers wanted to know too. And they've answered the question in a study published in the Dec. 11 issue of the BMJ—the medical journal's light-hearted "Christmas issue," which uses science to tackle important and underaddressed questions like "seriously, are men really idiots?"

In theory, the lack-of-certain magazines problem could be the fault of doctors not buying them or patients stealing them. To test what happens to current magazines in an office, Bruce Arroll, a doctor and professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand (apparently this is a global problem) gathered up 87 new and old magazines (a number determined by "how many magazines the investigators could rustle up from family and friends") covering a variety of topics and placed them in the waiting room of his practice.

It turns out that if there are current magazines around, people steal them.

Jerks.

Within a month, 41 magazines—almost half—had been taken. To make sure staff didn't take any magazines, they were told that doing so would invoke "the death penalty," for which Arroll would seek retrospective approval from an ethics committee.

Current magazines (less than two months old) were taken more than older magazines. Of the 47 magazines in that category, 60 percent disappeared, while only 29 percent of older magazines disappeared. But it turns out some magazines are stolen even more frequently than current ones. What the researchers termed "gossipy" magazines, which they didn't name but defined as having at least five celebrities on the cover (with 10 celebrities, they earned the term "most gossipy"), were stolen most of all. Patients took 26 of the 27 "gossipy" and "most gossipy" magazines. They also took National GeographicBBC History, and the Australian Women's Weekly, just less frequently. No one stole any of the four Time magazines or 15 Economist issues.

Arroll says they considered testing what happened if they limited the magazine options to only "non-gossipy" titles like Time and the Economist, but that was rejected by the "methods advice design team"—four office receptionists. Cheaper magazines were taken most, which may help explain some of the discrepancy here.

There are some limitations to the study. Although approximately 3,000 people passed through the waiting room during these 31 days, this is still just one medical practice in New Zealand. A different population may have different results (if any New York doctors want to repeat the study, I can arrange plenty of old magazines for the test).

But Arroll et al. say that for now, if doctors want to keep up their magazine supply without having to buy too many more, they'd recommend older issues, especially of Time and the Economist.

Dec. 11 2014 1:49 PM

TV Viewership and Ad Money Are Going the Way of Newspapers

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

About 26 percent of customers who call U.S. cable TV companies request “Internet only” service, according to a survey of those calls by mobile advertising technology company Marchex. Of those customers, at least 60 percent actually end up getting Internet-only service, Marchex says.

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The survey results—which came from 500 random phone calls via Marchex’s Call Analytics customer phone call monitoring technology—show that people increasingly don’t want to pay for old-fashioned TV. (Name one other industry where one in four consumers calls up the company to ask not to have access to its main product?) 

In place of TV, consumers want the Internet—through which they can get the video they want, which can also include TV programming—instead.

And numbers from BI Intelligence show that digital media—following a boom on the mobile Web—is about to replace TV as the top venue for both audience share and ad revenue.

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Chen Zhao, director of analytics for the Marchex Institute.

Marchex

Chen Zhao, director of analytics for the Marchex Institute, told Business Insider, “It’s clear that consumers want very specific things from their cable providers—and at the most fundamental level, they increasingly just want a reliable Internet connection to serve as a gateway to their own channels and choices.”

The Internet is literally slicing up TV’s old business, according to new data from PwC. Look at how Netflix has become a head-to-head competitor to all of cable TV in the US:

  • Cable subscriptions among 18-to-24-year-olds dropped to 71 percent in 2014, down 6 percent from the year before.
  • 71 percent of pay TV subscribers ages 25 to 34 also had Netflix in 2014, up from 51 percent.

  • 58 percent of 50-to-59-year-old TV subscribers also had Netflix in 2014, up from just 19 percent in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Back in 2011, data first emerged that television-watching may not, in the future, be the dominant media we consume—especially not in the living room, watching scheduled TV every night as people did in the 1970s. At the time three years ago, Credit Suisse alerted investors that pay TV subscriptions in the U.S. were in decline.

In the short time since that Credit Suisse report, most indicators have shown that TV’s share of both audience and ad dollars is in a long, slow decline as viewers move their attention to their phones, tablets, and laptops. The death of TV might not be as swift as that of the hard-line phone, but it’s happening.

However, it’s not until you see the following charts—compiled by BI Intelligence—that you realize in terms of viewers’ eyeballs and ad dollars, TV is already “over.”

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Right now, people watch more digital media than TV, but the ad dollars are a step behind.

BuzzFeed / eMarketer

TV has been relegated to second-rung status by the arrival of mobile media, in just the same way that newspapers and radio were demoted by the Internet.

Like newspapers and radio, TV still has a massive audience and commands lots of ad revenues. But TV’s audience simply isn’t as big as the audience being corralled by Google, Facebook, Apple, and their competitors.

Most people don’t understand this yet: Because TV routinely gets huge global audiences for things like the World Cup and the Super Bowl, it “feels” as if TV still has the biggest media audiences.

It doesn’t. The Internet and mobile Web combined have the biggest audiences. In a couple of years, they’ll also have the biggest bucket of ad revenue, too. (Ad dollars are always a year or two behind audiences.) TV is now a secondary concern if you want to reach viewers with either ads or content, data from BI Intelligence shows.

At Business Insider’s Ignition conference in New York, BI Intelligence prepared a chart that shows how TV is losing share of the media audience to online and mobile channels. TV no longer commands the largest portion of audience time. More importantly, digital media, at a 49 percent share, is close to claiming a simple majority of viewers media consumption.

TV lost its top spot in 2012. It’s now at only 37 percent of the market for eyeballs:

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BI Intelligence

One of the reasons TV seems so dominant, even when it’s not, is that digital audience time is often broken into separate “online” and “mobile” buckets. Those distinctions are meaningless to consumers, of course. But slicing that distinction is the only way TV still comes out on top with audiences.

Here’s the breakout. TV only comes top if you split Web and mobile viewing:

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BI Intelligence

Note that in 2014, mobile on its own is the second-biggest audience.

This, again, is a huge turning point in the world of media. The impact of mobile—which really only came online after 2007 and the launch of the iPhone—has vastly extended the reach of digital media. Web media might one day have eclipsed TV on its own. But that would have taken a lot longer without phones. It was the arrival of mobile media and video on the smartphone screen that really tipped the balance away from TV.

You’ve probably had that experience yourself: sitting on the sofa “watching” TV when you’re really looking at your phone or tablet.

The ad spending on Web and mobile is approaching the point at which it will eclipse TV, probably in 2017:

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BI Intelligence

Dec. 11 2014 11:00 AM

Apple Is Forcing Some Developers to Remove Parts of Their Apps

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Some app developers have just about had enough with what they say is Apple's meddling. The company has taken a tougher stance on developers since the launch of iOS 8, Apple's newest mobile operating system.

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App developers have seen a wave of rejections from the App Store, and it's happening to more and more apps. It's not just outright rejections that have developers worried, though. Apple is also asking developers to remove parts of their apps. Apple has always rejected apps. The company wants to keep quality standards high in its app store. What's new is that established developers are starting to grumble more loudly about the rules Apple enforces.

One of the most prominent iOS developers, early Tumblr employee Marco Arment, called Apple's moves "disgusting." Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

This isn't just about a bunch of tech geeks complaining about Apple's technical standards. The iOS App Store is at the heart of a $10 billion industry. Apple is its sole gatekeeper, and its ability to say yes or no to apps is potentially life or death for development companies, especially the smaller ones that have only one product.

The latest app to be hit by Apple's restrictions is Transmit. The developers behind the file-sharing app published a blog post yesterday that explained why the ability to send files with the app has been removed. They said that Apple contacted them to let them know that their app can only download files from iCloud, Apple's online document storage service. This meant that the app had to remove its entire "Send" function, preventing it from sending files to be uploaded to Box and Dropbox, as well as iCloud.

Here's the part of the app that has been removed:

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Mac Rumors

App developers rarely speak out against Apple for fear of tougher restrictions or outright bans. Instead, we usually see blog posts simply explaining why features disappear. 

That's not the case with another app, Launcher, though. It was a well-received app that let you create shortcuts for tasks inside Notification Center.

Here's what it looked like:

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TechCrunch

Cromulent Labs, the company behind Launcher, published a lengthy blog post on Sunday that explains what happened. Without warning, the developer received a message from Apple informing him that his app had been removed from the App Store.

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Cromulent Labs

After its removal, Launcher's users were left feeling "shocked and confused." The app's developer accuses Apple of "confidence/arrogance" over the decision, which seems to come from Apple's tight control over its Notification Center menu.

Here's a section from Cromulent's blog post that shows the way Apple deals with app developers:

They basically said that Launcher was a trailblazer in uncharted territories and that they felt that they needed to make an example of it in order to get the word out to developers that its functionality is not acceptable without them having to publish new specific guidelines.

But it's not just Transmit and Launcher that have been hit with changes by Apple. As Mac Rumors reports, there have been other cases where Apple has asked developers to remove parts of their apps. 

Neato was an app that allowed you to take quick notes in Notification Center using a miniature keyboard. The app's developer thought that Apple would love what it had made, saying on its website that "we were expecting Neato to be featured by Apple."

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Neato

But instead, Apple didn't like the small keyboard, so it asked the app to remove it. (It's unclear how this was resolved: There's no sign that the app was ever removed, and the keyboard still exists.)

Apple also got in touch with the developer of PCalc, a calculator app that sits in Notification Center. It said that developers weren't allowed to create calculator apps within that slide-down tray, effectively removing the app's sole purpose. Amazingly, Apple had even helped promote the app in the past by featuring it in the App Store.

Apple later changed its mind, though, and allowed the app back onto the App Store, but only after a wave of angry media coverage.

Developers are getting fed up with Apple's policy of suddenly removing apps, or surprising them with requests to remove key features. Many developers create apps for a living, so knowing that Apple could decide to remove your work from its App Store is a terrifying prospect. 

Here's one developer expressing his frustration with Apple's policies:

Early Tumblr employee and Instapaper cofounder Marco Arment, one of the most prominent iOS app developers, offered this decisive take on the new tough new App Store restrictions:

This is a disgraceful, disrespectful, and cowardly way to create and enforce policies, and it’s burning a lot of developer motivation to work on iOS. You’re better than this, Apple. Just disgusting.

We reached out to Apple for comment on this story and will update if we hear back.

Dec. 10 2014 1:56 PM

Nifty Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone 6 Could Do

This video originally appeared on Business Insider.

Apple’s iPhone 6 is selling fast, and for good reason—we think it’s the best smartphone you can buy right now. Take a look at some of the cool features hidden in the iPhone 6.

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