Apple doesn’t cotton well to competitors setting up shop in its App Store, and now Pebble might be starting to feel the heat. An app developer said that Apple rejected an update to his Pebble-compatible app on Thursday because he dared mention “Pebble” in the app’s metadata.
It’s possibly a dire harbinger for Pebble, which to date has managed to co-exist peacefully with Apple in its App Store. Now that the Apple Watch is making its way into the hands of consumers, though, that détente may be over.
No Pebbles Allowed
The developer, who goes by the name Steve, posted his frustrations to the Pebble developer forums. He said the App Store rejected his latest update for SeaNav US—a Pebble and Apple Watch compatible app for plotting boat routes—for mentioning Pebble in the update’s metadata.
(I’ve reached out to Steve for comment, and will update if he gets back to me.)
The rejection notice cited a four-year-old rule from Apple’s developer guidelines that states: “Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.” SeaNav US’s rejection specifically reads, in part:
We noticed that your app or its metadata contains irrelevant platform information in the app. Providing future platform compatibility plans, or other platform references, is not appropriate for the App Store.
Specifically, your app and app description declare support for the Pebble Smartwatch.
SeaNav US, however, has offered Pebble support on the App Store for the last two years. It’s telling, and not a little ominous, that Apple decided to reject an app that mentions Pebble support on the eve of the Apple Watch’s launch. As it turns out, Steve said he’d uploaded the update to the App Store explicitly to add support for the Apple Watch.
Additionally, as other forum users point out, Pebble isn’t a mobile platform at all. It’s more of an accessory, like any number of fitness trackers. (Not that Apple views all fitness trackers with equanimity, as Fitbit learned last year when Apple tossed the device out of its retail stores.) The Apple Watch launch—or, perhaps, just the in-app mention of it in close proximity to its rival Pebble—might have focused Apple’s attention on Pebble-related apps it had previously allowed through benign neglect.
Apple support responded to Steve’s appeal by suggesting he remove mention of Pebble from the app’s metadata. That, of course, would prevent App Store users from knowing that SeaNav US supports Pebble—which is presumably the point.
Skipping The Pebble
It can be dangerous to extrapolate from a single incident, especially since individual App Store reviewers aren’t always reliable indicators of Apple corporate policy. If this rejection stands, though, you have to wonder just how long Apple is going to tolerate other Pebble-compatible apps—much less the main Pebble app itself—in the App Store.
Such a development would also seem to put the kibosh on any potential Apple-Google cooperation in smartwatches, however far-fetched it might have seemed. There have been several indications over the past few months that Google is developing an iOS version of its Android Wear app.
But if Pebble can’t maintain its beachhead in the App Store, you probably shouldn’t count on pairing an Android smartwatch with your iPhone any time soon.
Lead photo by hurk; Pebble image courtesy of Pebble