Apple tells Textexpander to stop using Reminders to share snippets

Textexpander for iOS is something many of us use and rely upon on a daily basis, but while it runs perfectly easily on the Mac, due to the app sandboxing on iOS things are a little trickier to work out. Apple is now putting its foot down, and stopping Textexpander's use of Reminders to share snippets. Greg Scown of Smile Software:

Yesterday, after a period of engagement with the App Review Team from Apple, they informed us that TextExpander's use of Reminders for shared snippet data storage is not an intended use of Reminders and will no longer be accepted. TextExpander touch will not clear review until this is resolved. Apps which implement the current TextExpander touch SDK may not clear review until their TextExpander touch SDK is updated.

So the implications also stretch beyond just the Textexpander application, but to any other applications making use of the SDK. With no inter-app communication possible, workarounds need to be found, and it seems there is a solution in the pipeline.

Our only alternative appears to be providing TextExpander data via x-callback-url. User action will be required to acquire and update snippet data. Each app will have its own copy of the TextExpander data, which will not sync automatically with user updates made in the TextExpander touch app. It's not ideal, but it is within the App Store Review Guidelines. It also means users won't lose TextExpander touch support in your app.

The changes should be made by November 25, at which point Smile is hoping that the new way will be cleared by Apple for release through the App Store. For those of us that use it, Textexpander is an essential daily tool, so here's hoping all goes well.

Source: Smile Software

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Richard Devine

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Reader comments

Apple tells Textexpander to stop using Reminders to share snippets


Hey Apple, we can use the apps in our phone, computer, ... the way WE want. If I want to use Pages application to write my next Java project [it's not the case.. just an example ;) ], it's my business! Not yours. I use my GMail account with your Mail app to keep a todo list : is it right? Would you force me to use Reminders app?

BTW Apple, companies like Smile Software brings you a load of money in YOUR pockets. If you don't like they way they use OUR apps on OUR phone we paid for, provides a better solution for inter-application communications. Period.

PS : sorry for my English. Correct me please if I made a big mistake... I want to learn. :)

I disagree with this sentiment. If an application is going to use non-standard or "unapproved" methods to achieve functionality, that *could* introduce instability and problems across the OS. Just because a OS resource can be used for something, doesn't mean it should. I for one, am glad Apple has enforced this in this particular case. I do agree that Apple's app store policies can be a bit heavy handed at times but not here.

This has nothing to do with being able to use apps on *your* device. It has everything to do with Apple attempting to keep *your* device running stable. The only way to best do that is to make sure Apple keeps devs "in-line" by conforming to it's application guidelines. When you have over a million+ apps in a store, you can imagine how difficult a task that is.

That being said, it's been a well know limitation of iOS that inter-process and app communication is pretty weak. App devs have been able to use callback URL and URL schemes to leverage so of what a full API from Apple can offer. Like everything else, Apple needs to prioritize the changes and updates to its system like every other developer of software. Considering they just practically redesigned the OS and added more robust multitasking and auto app updates, along with a new UI in the span of months, I would say they are doing just fine. Now if they can just clean up some of the crashes that occur on 64-bit 5S' and Ipads when switching in multitasking.

I understand what you are saying, but the problem is that Apple has strict rules in place, and every developer knows this. Finding a creative way around those rules undermines the rules, which in turn make the rules less enforceable. Sadly, this is the world we live in.

I am not a fan of zero tolerance as it removes common sense, but this is where we are, beyond just the App Store.

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To me it's an operating system. If the company behind it wants to have a zero tolerance policy to mitigate the risks associated with a more open atmosphere, so be it. However I'm neither a developer nor a user of this application.

What was the "strict" rule that this developer violated?

The problem is that you cannot name one, nor can Apple - creating an unfair situation for developers and customers both.

This is exactly my point : Apple cannot prevent users using applications the way they (users) want. Textexpander didn't violated any "official" rules. Correct me if I'm wrong.

You should switch to Windows then and buy two or three malware packages plus other utilities to try to keep your system running. Enjoy!

You are so stuck in 2011! Since Windows 8 was launched I haven't needed to use a single antivirus! The protection offered by the OS itself is more than enough to keep your PC safe. If someone is buying any antivirus for a Windows 8 PC/Tablet then he/she is being an idiot. Simple as that.

Windows RT 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 are closed OSs so what you said doesn't apply either.

We all like to think that we OWN the software on our phones and computers but we don't. Read the EULA for any software company other than open source (you know that long legalese page that you click AGREE to but never read) and it specifically states that you are buying the right to USE the software. The company retains ownership and control. Now, no company cares what you do on your personal equipment for your personal use but if you try to make money, or even distribute widely, hacks to the software you get the attention of the software company and they can stomp on you.

Remember, this is what you agreed to when you clicked agree and entered into a legally binding contract with Apple or Adobe or Microsoft or Nokia, ect. App developers agree to an even stricter contract than end-users. The key here is that the contract is both REQUIRED and VOLUNTARY - - and totally enforceable.

Enforceable? Eh, maybe -- in the US, it depends on where you live:

The 7th and 8th circuits have held yes. Others have not, and those jurisdictions that define software as a good, precedent would suggests they would not, as such contracts fall afoul of the Uniform Commercial Code.

The US Supreme Court has so far declined to take any case that might set a nationwide precedent.

Edit: I'd be shocked if the 9th Circuit did not hold them as enforceable as well, as it encompasses both Cupertino and Redmond.

I do not personally use this application nor do I know what the benefits are. While I won't weigh in on whether Apple is crippling an application, I will comment on whether or not Apple should have any say over granular usage of its OS through applications (free and paid) available in the App Store.

Apple has a responsibility to consumers and shareholders to ensure the integrity of the OS is maintained. Applications that side-step limitations (right or wrong) in order to provide a user with easier access or more options are not the issue. It's whether that feature could be used maliciously, regardless of the intent of the creator. After just over a week with the iPhone, I can see why many users have previously chosen to jailbreak their devices in order to bypass Apple's walled garden and do things their way. That's wonderful. I had just as much experience with Android, so while I miss that customization on iOS I also have new find peace of mind that things I would normally want to tweak work "just right".

I use my email address (carry-over from owning a Windows Phone) to catch spam email addresses and add them to the filter I maintain on my Google Apps account. I have a Yahoo account just for Flickr, Fantasy leagues, etc. I only have a Facebook account so my wife's profile links back to a real person, but more importantly to post photos online she will shamelessly steal and add back to her profile.

While ownership of these accounts and my uses behind them might not be so far off the reservation that Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook would come after me - they are far from the original intention. However, most companies recognize this and little fuss (if any) is given.

The key difference here is that these are services. iOS is an operating system that drives one of the most popular and iconic devices of our generation. Apple is going to be quite particular with how applications access data stored within in it. They should be. I'm glad that they are.


You cannot tell me these companies also don't have a vested interested in the operating system they build for or maintain.

Alternative usage cases for apps and services? Yes. Bypassing restrictions within the OS to make your app "work" - not so much.

I'm with you on this one. Security has always been one of Apple's priority and it's only right that they would restrict something if they feel that their resources are being used in ways it's not intended for.

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I think Apple should focus more on educating it's user on how to keep their Apple devices secure instead of crippling what app developers can do with their apps. I agree that security features need to be reinforced, but if they are over reaching and hindering creativity then they are a bit too limiting.

Apple's stance isn't a stab at creativity. It is their OS; they are keeping the platform secure and app development consistent and in line with their standards. If that hinders a developer's creativity, how creative are they really?

Apple should really think about a way so that apps could register a communication channel between them without compromising security, and establish that way as a rule for all developers.
No developer company should be able to bend the rules, that the difference between the great smooth running apps on iOS versus android apps.
The ways things are now, doesnt have to be constraining to developers creativity, as i see everyday great apps with lots of creativity in it.
Sometimes people think the easy way is bending the rules and not have to think out of the box to achieve a way of doing things by the book.

A proper inter-app communication API, one that's well documented for developers and still safe for users, is the answer to this. Let specific apps punch holes in the sandbox to exchange non-dangerous data. Hopefully iOS 8.

I'm not sure why Apple is so up in arms,they basically have have turned reminder into an all but useless app. They took out permissions functions which are still buried underneath the hood but inaccessible in Snow Leopard and Mavericks. I can no longer pick and choose who I want to share my reminders with and I cannot choose whether or not they have permission to edit or read-only. Reminders with be the bomb if they would just bring back the basic functionality that it had prior to Snow Leopard. So yeah, I don't understand the ire of Apple in this particular case.

While the use of a reminder was kind of a hack, at least it was pretty unobtrusive hack and didn't really affect anything else in a negative way. I'm skeptical about the x-callback thing, but we'll see how it is implemented (and if the third party apps pick up the new SDK quickly enough). Otherwise, the utility of this app is unfortunately greatly reduced. As Rene has said, some sort of inter-app communication framework is needed. The lack of one is my biggest complaint of iOS (very close to still not being able to reply to a message without leaving the current app and going to the Messages app).