Just before the weekend the BitTorrent-based ‘IS Drive’ App was approved by Apple and added to the App store. The application allows users of Imageshack’s torrent download service to control and add torrent downloads through a handy interface. In addition, the App shows screenshots of completed video downloads.
Although the App itself is not quite revolutionary, the fact that Apple allowed a BitTorrent-based app into their iPhone store is. Previously, all BitTorrent related submissions were rejected because BitTorrent is often used to “infringe copyrights”, according to Apple.
By carefully avoiding the dirty word “torrent” or anything that could hint at unlawful use of the app, developer Derek Kepner passed Apple’s stringent approval regime. The big question was whether Apple had changed their ‘policy’ or if the approval was an oversight at the company. It turns out that the latter was the case.
Kepner informed TorrentFreak that he got a call from Apple a few hours ago, announcing that IS Drive would be booted from the App store. The Apple employee cited section 22.4 of the App Store Review Guidelines: “Apps that enable illegal file sharing will be rejected.”
“I mentioned to the person that called me that my app doesn’t do anything that can’t be done in Safari. It sounded like he wasn’t going to change his mind though,” Kepner told TorrentFreak.
“I’m very disappointed by Apple’s decision. A lot of people think BitTorrent is just for piracy, but it’s not. I wanted to help change that misconception with this app. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t seem to be interested,” he added.
Despite the setback, the developer is not giving up so easily. He’s currently drafting a letter to Apple where he is going to explain in detail how his App does nothing different than a web browser, and that it’s not a pirate App. Below, Kepner shared a few sentences from his writing to Apple.
I’d just like to reiterate that my app does *not* present the user with any pirated materials. Nor will it *ever*. I feel very strongly about that. If that’s why you’re rejecting my app, you’re mistaken.
It presents the user with a field to paste a link. So do all of the third party web browsers on the store, all the FTP clients, etc. If you take my app down, I demand that you take those apps down too.
Kepner is totally right of course. IS Drive is not enabling illegal file-sharing any more than a regular web-browser. However, somehow we doubt that Apple will be easily convinced, to them BitTorrent is synonym for piracy.
“I feel like I’m fighting for the BitTorrent community here. Wish me luck,” Kepner concluded.
Finally, although IS Drive was the first App that was linked to a web-based torrent download service, there were already Apps that allow BitTorrent downloads via the Synology Disk Station such as SynoLoad and SynoDS.
Expect these to be removed in the coming days. Right Apple?
It is just this kind of inflexibility which encourages Apple users to jailbreak their machines and head over to Cydia, which they are doing in their hundreds of thousands.