Apple abolishes Wi-Fi scanners from App Store

First adult apps got the boot. Now Apple is banning apps that actively scan for Wi-Fi hotspots.

First adult apps, now Wi-Fi.

iPhone apps that find Wi-Fi hotspots by actively scanning for them are no longer welcome in Apple's App Store, Softpedia reports. The ban does not apply to Wi-Fi locators that use a database of hotspots combined with GPS, so there are apps you can use.

But that's of little consolation to developers who've wasted time and effort developing their apps and getting Apple's approval. A developer for Three Jacks Software, who saw its WiFi-Where app wiped out in the ban, vented frustrations on the company blog.

"I find it quite ironic that Apple removes these very handy, very useful apps from the app store when there are so many useless gimick [sic] apps that just pollute the App Store pages," developer "codemonkey57" wrote.

In a separate blog post, the developer said Apple took issue with Wi-Fi apps that use a "private framework" for detecting hotspots. Apple explained that it doesn't publish any application programming interfaces that detect Wi-Fi in the way that these apps do, hence the ban, but the company didn't explain why this method of Wi-Fi detection isn't allowed in the first place. Other banned apps include WiFiTrack, WiFiFoForum, yFy Network Finder, WiFi Get, eWifi, and WiFi Analyzer.

Apple's decision isn't a total shock. As the WiFi-Where developer noted, a couple of these apps were allowed in the app store "since its very early days," but similar apps were blocked until November 2009, when Apple began letting them in again. WiFi-Where was finally approved in January 2010.

I can only imagine how frustrating that roller coaster ride of an approval process must have been. This move might not be as clumsily implemented as the sex app incident, but if I was a developer whose iPhone app was approved with some reluctance from Apple, I'd be on edge.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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