Apple announced its AirPods in September just as the company officially made clear its plans to kill the headphone jack on the iPhone. The only real concern about the goofy-looking wireless earbuds was whether they'd be too easy to lose. iOS development team Deucks decided to fight this probability with an app that helps sad people who've lost an airpod and don't want to pay the $99 service fee for a replacement.
Now, after just a couple of days of being publicly available for download, the developer's "Finder for AirPods" app has been removed from the App Store without much of an explanation from Apple.
The app was created with the intention of helping people locate either of their lost AirPods. It was able to do this by measuring Bluetooth signal and leading an individual toward the missing bud — this is similar to how products like Tile or TrackR work. It wouldn't work if you lost an AirPod out on the street a kilometre back, but if the missing AirPod was somewhere in your house you stood a pretty good chance of locating your lost expensive gadget.
After submitting the app for review on December 22, the developer waited about two weeks before it was finally available for public download. To celebrate admission into the App Store, the developer posted an announcement on Reddit with promo codes encouraging people to try it out for free.
Then the Apple fan site MacRumors reviewed the app, about three days after its release. The site gave Finder for AirPods a reasonably good rating. "The app has the potential to be helpful for users afraid of having to pay $69 [$99 in Australia] for a replacement AirPod," said reviewer Mitchel Broussard.
That's when it happened. The app mysteriously disappeared from the App Store. According to the developer who posted on Reddit, Apple simply didn't like the idea of helping people find their lost AirPods.
Yeah, just got off the phone with them. They didn't find anything wrong with the app itself, but rather they they didn't like the 'concept' of people finding their AirPods and hence was deemed 'not appropriate for the App Store'.
When asked for proof of the conversation, the developer responded.
The proof being, they called me to say that the App Review board doesn't like the concept of the app and deemed it not appropriate for the App Store. They have their own reasons why, but probably wont release it to the public.
What makes the app's removal even more shady is the fact that Deucks has produced several other finder apps, all of which remain in the app store. Finder for Fitbit, Finder for Xiaomi, Finder for Misfit and Finder for Jawbone all remain the App Store. The apps rely on the exact same Bluetooth radio signals to track the device — which leads us to believe that Apple only has a problem with the app because it's made for one of its own products.
Gizmodo reached out to Apple for comment, but the company has not yet replied at the time of writing. Some Reddit commenters are accusing Apple of removing the app so that it can build its own version of the same thing. The probability of that is actually hard to say — but what's clear is that Apple doesn't care about providing explanations to developers.
If you're one of the many people who've already bought this app, you're not totally screwed. You can apply for a refund here. The developer is also considering about open-sourcing the code on Github.