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Jerry Huang | Something about We The Drivers app

Jerry Huang apps and developing apps

Something about We The Drivers app

1. June 2019 16:52 by Jerry in Apple/iOS

What the app does

One of my apps, We The Drivers is made for Uber drivers to track latest surge around current location. The main reason that such app exists is because Uber driver app doesn't always give you the update surge info. Feedbacks from a lot of drivers show that the surge info is constantly intentionally out of date or inaccurate. In the latest version (of Uber driver app), the surge factor is simply removed. Why it's "intentionally"? Because the surge and pricing in the rider app show differently (or correctly). Why Uber does that? According to a lot of Uber drivers, they believe it's because Uber wants to attractive more drivers to get online; also don't want the drivers know the exact surge pricing. So this created a market for apps like We The Drivers to simply using Uber's API to get the most updated, accurate and transparent pricing info.

Apple app review

Before I publishing app to Apple's app store, I was involved in some commercial app development and publishing back then (even though I'm still from time to timeCool). I have learned a lot that how Apple is so stubborn in certain areas; how iOS developers' life is so miserable especially an app is submitted for the first time. When a project launch, iOS must be prepared in advanced and get ready for being rejected by the app review.

We the drivers was being rejected, for a few reasons, such as I can't use the wording "Uber" at app title but I'm ok to use it in description. Ok, make sense. Then they insist I have to provide a demo account as the app requires an Uber account to function. Well, things start to get interesting. Because my app uses Uber's public API and so rely on Uber's authentication. While I can't provide an Uber account because for security reason, when you log on your Uber account to a new device requires to receive a code via SMS. This common security mechanism is to protect your account and call "2 factor authentication". Eventually, after a lady from Apple's app review team called me, I finally got the app approved by providing a video showing how the app works.

But that's not the end of the story, after a few app update submissions, I'm getting rejected for the same reason in my latest submission. This time, Apple frozen my entire developer account for so-called "investigation". As you may or may not know, I'm running couple other apps under my name, so here is Apple's logic: because one of your apps is "suspicious", I will freeze your account until I figure out you have not done anything wrong. I'm not going to tell you how long I need for this investigation. However, until then, your operation is completely shut down meaning that you are not able to submit app update; you are not able to submit new app; even the app is not related to We The Drivers. And BTW, you still need to pay for the apple developer membership so that you maintain a valid membership status. 

Honestly I was shock. I was shock that America is a free country while I was being treated like that by an US giant company; I was shock that Apple is still that arrogant even after its market share being cut down (by Android) so much in recent years.

After I chased Apple couple times for status, Apple eventually released my account as well as the app update without any explanation after freezing my account for a few weeks.

There are a lot of other developers like me, when they do something apple doesn't like, their developer account is frozen or terminated by Apple. See this as reference: https://forums.developer.apple.com/thread/77865


Threat from Uber

When I thought everything should be settled, at least for a while, a few days after my apple account is released, I received an email from Uber. The whole thing looks like Apple and Uber are working together to stop me from developing this app. I don't have proof, and it's just my suspicion, but the timing, what a coincidence!

Unfortunately I cannot disclose what kind of "threat" I received from Uber, not just yet. But sometimes I'm really not getting it, We The Drivers is not the first app in its kind, definitely not the last, it's also not that famous, there are others in the market. Is it just me or other developers are in the same situation? If you are a developer is/was developing similar app, I would love to hear from you. Send me a message from "Contact" menu of this site if you would like to be in touch.


I'm freezing Apple and plan for the next move

When Apply suspected me or my app, they freeze my account. So when I suspect Apple is working with Uber and trying to stop me, I stop updating We The Drivers to iOS app store for the time being. The latest version on iOS is 1.1.7. Frankly speaking, it leaves me no choice. Besides, it's not worth it. From my app's statistics data, over 90% of users are from Android. I see no reason for me to continue dealing with Apple, so fuck you Apple!

For those Uber drivers that are still using iPhone, I may have to suggest you to use Android when online with Uber. Fortunately my app could runs smoothly on most Android devices, as long as it's not too old, couple years back should be just fine.

At this moment, I'm still opened and willing to compile with Uber's policies. The question is that would Uber be opened to let small individual app developer like me to continue? Or would Uber be opened to look into its transparent problems so that apps like mine will not have a market? If the answer for both questions is "no", I might take the whole app underground and make it free for everyone if I have to.