There are many app developers out there in the wild that are more than happy to work with Apple, and work within Apple’s App Store ecosystem and rules. Even some big companies. However, there are some developers who have run afoul of Apple’s review process for apps in one way or another, or take umbrage with the digital storefront’s rules. For Kosta Eleftheriou, it’s a bit of both.
The developer, who alongside their partner Ashley Eleftheriou run a company called KPAW LLC, has not been happy with Apple for quite some time now. Back in March of this year, we reported that Eleftheriou had sued Apple over “profiting at the expense of small developers and consumers.” At the time, that argument was partly due to the scam apps that proliferate the App Store, despite Apple’s insistence that the digital store is safe from that sort of thing — because of the review process.
And now it’s that review process that has Eleftheriou up in arms, as it has directly impacted one of the developer’s apps and forced them to discontinue it altogether. That app is called FlickType, and it’s billed as a keyboard app for the Apple Watch. It can be used with either taps or swipes, and it boasts a component specifically made for those who are blind or otherwise hard of vision by using the VoiceOver Accessibility feature baked into iOS and watchOS.
It's with a heavy heart today that we're announcing the discontinuation of our award-winning iPhone keyboard for blind users.
Apple has thrown us obstacle after obstacle for years while we try to provide an app to improve people's lives, and we can no longer endure their abuse. pic.twitter.com/cH1HCQzeP1
— FlickType Watch Keyboard (@FlickType) August 16, 2021
However, FlickType is being discontinued according to Eleftheriou (via MacRumors). The developer took to Twitter recently to air out their grievances regarding Apple’s continued dismissal of submitted app updates, and goes as far as saying the developer can no longer “endure” Apple’s “abuse” in this regard. You can see Eleftheriou’s initial tweet on the matter just above.
Apparently the developers submitted an app update to FlickType that added some VoiceOver improvements to the software, while also including some bug fixes. Apple rejected the app upgrade, though, saying it would not work without “full access.” And yet, Eleftheriou says they addressed this specific issue three years ago, despite Apple bringing it up yet again.
The developer says they tried to reach out to Apple “a total of 9 times last week,” and adds that none of those attempts were fulfilled by Apple. The developer says they believe Apple is outright ignoring them when it comes to this issue, despite Apple telling them to “‘feel free’ to contact them if we need ‘further clarification’.”
Eleftheriou even tried to keep FlickType around as a TestFlight beta, but apparently that was shot down by Apple, too. And with silence coming from the Apple camp regarding the Apple Watch app, Eleftheriou says the app will be discontinued altogether.
Interestingly, the original report says that FlickType could keep availability if the developer chose to add the ability to “provide the container typing app with a share button for exporting text.” However, in its current state, based on what Apple has rejected so far, the FlickType app cannot exist.
Eleftheriou says that one day the app will hopefully make a return as a “real” keyboard app for the Apple Watch (and iPhone), but, as you can imagine, there isn’t a timeframe for when that might happen.