For developers, having access to Apple’s developer portal and tools to build apps is vital, but at least one prominent developer has been locked out of their account for months.
Guilherme Rambo, developer of apps like AirBuddy (for macOS) and ChibiStudio (for iOS), posted a public blog post on Wednesday, November 20, detailing a problem he has had with his Apple developer account since August of this year. According to Rambo, he’s been unable to access any part of the Apple Developer Portal at all, with a persistent warning that reads “Need assistance with accessing your developer account?”, which leads to a contact form.
My developer team doesn’t show up in Xcode anymore. I’m also unable to manage certificates or send builds of my employer’s developer team apps while logged in to my developer account in Xcode because it says it’s “disabled for security reasons”. The push notification service denies any requests I make to it. Back when the issue first began, I filled out that form and got a case number (20000057023991), with the promise that support would get back to me “in one to two business days”.
The public post comes after months of trying to deal with the issue privately with Apple. After initially trying the preferred contact method, two weeks later Rambo tried a phone call. It wasn’t the easiest process to find the right people to call, but, when he succeeded in that regard the issues was ultimately kicked around to one supervisor to another. In mid-September Rambo was told he’d be hearing back from “someone” in regards to being locked out of his developer account.
When Rambo tried again to get in touch with them, which was in October, he was told an email would be delivered with an explanation of the issue. Rambo has not received that email.
More recently, I tried calling again and got to talk with a supervisor, who said I would be getting an e-mail with instructions to get my access restored. During the call, they told me my developer account is currently “inactive”. I followed up over e-mail a couple of days later and got a generic response that “the internal team is still investigating the issue” and thanking me for my patience.
Rambo notes that he did not receive any kind of warning that Apple was going to take action against his developer account, so its inaccessibility was a surprise to him. Which it obviously remains to be all these months later without any sort of resolution.
Like I mentioned before, the problem began in August. So far I’ve tried every possible private communication channel before deciding to make this story public. It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t get any e-mail or call from Apple warning about any sort of action being taken against my developer account. Apple always says that “running to the press doesn’t help”. Unfortunately, they haven’t responded in any way, even when I tried reaching out through internal contacts that I have. So the only option I have left now is to “run to the press”.
This is obviously a big deal for Rambo who relies on the apps he builds and distributes for his income. And, in regards to ChibiStudio, Rambo also says that the inability to update or access the app also means he’s impacting the income of his friend who handles the drawings for ChibiStudio.
I’m not sure if this is a deliberate act by Apple or some sort of bug (I remember facing a similar issue a few years ago, but it only lasted a couple of days). I see no reason for my developer account to be blocked. I’m not writing malware, I’m not misusing enterprise certificates like some companies were, I’m not performing any scams (like many apps are), I’m just an indie developer trying to make good products.
Rambo is not a new developer, either. He’s been developing apps since 2008, publishing apps to the App Store since 2013. All Rambo wants is for the issue to be fixed, and as soon as possible (after already having to wait for months).
It’s also worth noting that Rambo has made a name for himself for publishing content tied to unannounced Apple products for quite some time. His proficiency with Apple’s software makes it possible to discover elements of unannounced products. For example, it was Rambo that discovered an animation baked into an early beta of iOS 13.2 showcasing the AirPods Pro — long before they were officially announced. And that’s just one case out of many.
However, Apple’s action here still seems extreme. Especially considering the company has yet to provide Rambo with any concrete information at all. It will be interesting to see what happens next with Rambo’s developer account. Will Apple turn things around and fix it? Or will the developer be unable to continue releasing apps for Apple’s platforms?
We will update this post accordingly if any new information comes to light.