About iSH’s pending removal from the App Store

Update: Looks like iSH won their appeal after getting a call from Apple and will not be removing their app. This is great news, but I wonder if this was only because they went public with this.

From iSH Blog:

On Monday, October 26th, just four days after we launched iSH on the App Store, we received a call from Apple informing us that they had found our app noncompliant with section 2.5.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines and that they would remove the app from sale if we did not submit a satisfactory update within two weeks. Despite our best efforts, we do not believe we will be able to bring iSH into compliance by tomorrow, the conclusion of this 14 day period, and we expect iSH to no longer be available to download from the App Store after that time. We are working our hardest to get iSH back on the App Store as soon as possible and hope for your understanding and support as we navigate our next steps in this process.

Thanks for using iSH! Theodore Dubois, Saagar Jha & Martin Persson

There is a much more in-depth explanation as to why the app is being removed and their disputes if you want to read more.

The reason for the removal seems like Apple is grasping at straws. It’s a Linux stack, of course you can use some outside items. Even if this was a ridiculously popular app there would be so few people using this for nefarious purposes, if any, that Apple really has nothing to worry about.

Apple has made some controversial decisions about what apps they allow over this year, but this one seems different. Instead of Apple telling Microsoft or Google they can’t have their gaming platforms on the App Store without giving Apple a cut, the removal of iSH seems like an outlier. The app was free, Linux is open source, and it’s a command line tool.

Turns out I’m not the only one upset.

Marco Arment:

iOS power users are so devoted, and so desperate for a proper terminal environment, that they made this incredible x86-emulator app with an entire Linux stack inside of it.

Instead of celebrating the skill and dedication of their most enthusiastic customers, Apple is killing it. iOS apps are so rigidly and securely kept inside of their own containers that this literally can’t do any harm.

It’s an open-source tool for power users and enthusiasts that harms nobody and gives people a feature that Apple will never offer.

And they’re killing it.

Thankfully, iSH is working to keep this app alive in alternate ways.

Does this mean I can’t use iSH anymore?

No, not at all. However, it will mean that you will no longer be able to get iSH from the App Store, which is something which we would still like to be able to provide. The App Store remains the easiest and most popular method of software distribution on iOS, and we’re working hard to save iSH’s listing because we think the app should have a permanent spot there for users who prefer this method of distribution.

Removal of iSH’s listing on the App Store should not affect your use of iSH if you download the app before it is removed. We have not received any compliance messages from Apple regarding our TestFlight beta, so we plan to continue offering prerelease versions of iSH there for up to 10,000 beta testers.

Precompiled builds of iSH (distributed as IPA files) will remain available on GitHub for installation through AltStore and for jailbroken users. Advanced users are welcome to build iSH themselves—it’s free and open source and always will be!

Apple hasn’t just removed iSH. They have also removed a-shell. I suspect more shoes will drop for hard working app developers creating scripting apps.