Apple tells developer of popular iOS 8 widget calculator to remove the widget

One of the coolest features of iOS 8 was the inclusion of support for widgets in the Notification Center on iPhone and iPad, but making full use of that feature has landed at least one developer in hot water. James Thomson, developer of the popular calculator app PCalc, was the recipient of a message from Apple informing him that having a widget in iOS 8 that performs calculations within notification center was not something he could do, and that it must be removed. This is in spite of PCalc being a featured app in the App Store for its calculating widget.

Apple has told me that Notification Center widgets on iOS cannot perform any calculations, and the current PCalc widget must be removed. Needless to say, this is extremely disappointing news, and I am very sorry for all PCalc users, including me, who love the feature. I'm going to try to escalate the decision, but it sounds like it was made high up and won't be changed.I've basically got 2-3 weeks to remove it, barring a miracle. I spent a really long time working on the PCalc widgets and making them perfect, so this is pretty crushing news.I would be allowed to make a widget that let you to "enter a formula" but it couldn't perform the calculation in the widget. And yes, Apple is currently featuring PCalc in the "Great apps for iOS 8" section, under Notification Center widgets.

This isn't the first time a developer's been told after an app's approval that they had to stop doing what they were doing. And though it is for the more-extensible OS X Yosemite, Apple itself has a calculator widget for the Notification Center on Macs.

It's frustrating to see developers like Thomson operating within the expected bounds of what the SDK supports, and having their apps approved, only to have somebody realize that they're working outside of the bounds of what Apple wants. PCalc isn't the only app that offers a calculator widget for Notification Center either, so we'd expect Apple to force those developers to remove the support as well. Unless Apple changes their mind, which they've been known to do.

Source: James Thomson (Twitter)

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

58 Comments
  • First Launcher, now this. Heavy, disappointed sigh. Sent from the iMore App
  • Exactly... I still have launcher on my phone though... I would advice everyone who had to to (this is if you backup via computer which is highly essential) find the ipa for pcalc and save it before itunes updates and or removes it... That's what I did for launcher and I will do it for this app as well.... Sent from the iMore App
  • So, it's time to disable automatic updates on iOS so that new version without a widget won't install automatically. Stupid Apple ...
  • The PCalc widget is one of my most used ones. Being able to perform a quick calculation without leaving a current app is a great feature. Apple should actually know this, as they ship a Dashboard calculator widget with OS X since a decade... This is positively nuts.
  • I do the exact same thing. I have s financial budget that I calculate in evernote, and I loved swiping down and calculating. While only having to swipe up slightly to peek the rest of the numbers... I got tired of going between apples calculator app and what ever I was calculating... Sent from the iMore App
  • Agreed Sent from the iMore App
  • That's about on par with CVS and others who disabled Apple Pay. I suppose this is another example of Apple wanting what's best for customers and screwing over a developer.
  • This is actually nothing like that...
  • Similar enough.
  • how is this what is best for the customer though?
  • Yet another example of bureaucracy and politics of large organizations stifling innovation. I'm going to hope this is because there is a security issue that needs to be addressed and not just a 'You can't do this because we said so' issue. Otherwise Apple is being such a douchebag here. Unnecessarily. Apple, don't cannibalize your precious App Store by alienating developers.
  • I agree, I don't like them saying hey, this Notification Center is awesome! Everyone use it, but not this way or that way... Pretty soon it won't be useful anymore, and it will be like it was back in ios 5/6 where they allowed people to put facebook and Twitter posts, but then took it away... Then you could only see a few reminders and things you missed... Honestly ios 8 has been the best I have seen Notification Center and the most I have ever used it... Sent from the iMore App
  • Clearly the ghost of Steve Jobs haunts Apple halls. Just when we thought Tim Cook was making Apple more open with extensions and keyboards...we see that arbitrary restrictions are still alive and well from the Jobs era. Who looses? Users.
  • Hahah... That's funny Sent from the iMore App
  • lame lame lame "How dare you try to make our interface more user friendly! Stop that now!"
  • Fuck off, Apple! Sent from the iMore App
  • There is no explanation of why...? You can "enter a formula" but not "perform a calculation"... why?
  • How long until they flip flop again and allow it? Just like the volume shutter button in camera apps.
  • Created a change.org petition for this: http://chn.ge/1rSPVAt Hopefully we can make a difference!
  • This wouldn't happen on Android
  • I agree with the poster above about how somewhat similar it is to NFC being turned off at CurrentC stores even though it was there and working at Rite Aid/CVS. Apple doling out a taste of the medicine they got, eh? Way to go Apple, I think. For that, I'll never use the Apple calculator app again, but only other calculator apps. That ought to teach you!
  • Just switched off Automatic App Updates on my 4S and about to do it on my iPod Touch 5th generation. I use the PCalc Widget while doing Grocery Shopping to keep a tab on my Grocery Budget. Sent from the iMore App
  • Good idea. Everyone should turn off auto updates.. I did a long time ago, just before the Launcher app incident. I still have the app and save a copy of the ipa from iTunes.... Everyone should do these things if you like pcalc... The current build is really good, really doesn't need bug fixes... Save the ipa from iTunes... So you can reinstall it to your phone or other Apple device if needed later, once it's gone from the App Store, or of something like that happeneds... If anyone needs the ipa for launcher let me know... I am going to save the ipa for pcalc also... Sent from the iMore App
  • Wow. I hope Apple changes their mind on this. As much of a geek I might be, that feature was one of the reasons I just converted from BlackBerry to an iPhone 6. I saw the video review on iMore and my eyes lit up when he pulled the notification screen down and the calculator was there. Lame decision to take this away now, and not explain to the user why and whether or not it's temporary. I still have time to return the iPhone and switch back. I've discovered there's nothing more I do on the iPhone than what my BlackBerry does, so this is an uncomfortable development because I gave the conversion a shop when I felt that functionality was really opening up on iOS. This blows. Sent from the iMore App
  • Why does't Apple have a calculator widget for iOS??
  • iOS 8.2 they probably will. This smacks of "you can't do that because we were going to eventually"...
  • That's probably exactly right lol
  • +1
  • I love the pcalc widget.... Apple's need to lock down the system is the reason I keep one foot in android.... Sent from the iMore App
  • I hear you however... In comparison the reason I steer away from android is the os updates.. I love a lot of the features coming to lollipop... However which devices will get it and when? I got my first android (Galaxy tab 2), because I was excited about jelly bean coming out... I was used to how Apple delegates ios updates.. Pretty much once it's available you can get it on almost every iOS device, same day, not waiting... It took almost half a year before I got to get jellybean.. I was highly disappointed... I want to get a tab 4 or nexus... However I want to be ensured that I would be able to get lollipop... Sent from the iMore App
  • If you get a Nexus phone or tablet you will get the update someday it's released. Any other android will be up a few factors the device's manufacturer and or the carrier that device is on. Sent from the iMore App
  • Nexus or Moto X [maybe Droid too].
  • If you get a Nexus, you WILL get Lollipop.
  • The nexus line is basically Androids equivalent of the iPhones. Google Controls everything from top to bottom so if you get a nexus device you pretty much get what you get with the iPhones. It should be noted that the update systems on the 2 platform are different too. Google updates many cores aspects like Gmail, Google now, keyboard, music player, maps etc outside the Android os and also through play services so you get all those stuff regardless of what version of Android your on where as those same things are only updated through ios updates. Both have there pros and cons. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • It was instances like this that convinced me to move away from iOS. Sad to see Apple is still doing it to their users after giving them some "freedom" in iOS8. Posted via my Note 3
  • The widgets are so far very sparse & of little or no use. Now the one that does work & works well,they want to remove? Great way to motivate developers to want to use this feature. What is the purpose & plan for widgets then,Apple? Sent from the iMore App
  • It was instances like this that convinced me to move away from iOS. Sad to see Apple is still doing it to their users after giving them some "freedom" in iOS8. Posted via my Note 3
  • Utter nonsense. Sent from the iMore App
  • Update: Apple has changed their mind on the widget. It is now allowed to stay. Sent from the iMore App
  • After Apple doing this to a developer and the backlash from let's see if Apple will listen to user feedback and reinstate the App widget in tact. Sent from the iMore App
  • Have no choice but to leave a one star review. Sure it's apple's fault but the end result is a much desired feature being removed for no reason. . I encourage everyone to leave one star reviews but make clear its apples fault.
  • Please do not propagate such plan. Doing so would not affect apple at all but it wou;d certainly discourage a developer from innovating and creating good software.
  • Take it up with apple. It rolls downhill. Apple should see the effect its idiot decisions like this have on people. It's an app they promoted. And then apple turns around and neuters it.
  • The developer is welcome to make apps for Windows Phone....
  • iOS 7&8 provide a basic calculator you can access from control center anytime. I use it often. I don't even have the icons for calculator and camera on the home screen. It is sad however that the developer has to pull his feature out. Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree.. I barely have any of apples apps on my main screens. I have them tucked away within a nested folder (took advantage of the ios 7 multi-folder glitch that was much easier than on iOS 8) I used to go back and forth between calculator and other apps I was calculating in.. Sometimes I double click the home button to multitask and just peek at what I was calculating without going into the other app, before I disliked going back and forth like that. Pcalc is simply much better, you can calculate without leaving the app your calculating in.... Sent from the iMore App
  • Agreed Sent from the iMore App
  • Once Apple lets things through they should just have to live with it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Noo, I use that widget, apple no.
  • It's 2nd on my list.
  • I see Apple might have the developers remove this feature cause they might remove their cal app from control center and and make a widget for their app in the near future. Or it could be because people will rather use these widgets then their own cal app. Just my opinion. Sent from the iMore App
  • just downloaded it I am never updating this app no
  • The best app on the old Palm devices, was pop up calculator. You could bring it up in any app, do calculations, and close it without ever leaving the app. I have been looking for something like thist since I got an iPhone. I use PCalc daily. It is a nice feature just like pop up calculator was. If we already have it, will Apple erase it from Notification Center.? Is this a security risk? Just remove Notification Center from the lock screen. I do not get it. Something that works well, and is liked, they remove. I am a pure, but if I cannot get the features I want, jailbreak time. Apple forces this. Too bad for a great program.
  • Does it seem like widgets that actually are good and helpful likes this and launcher are being removed yet there's a whole lot of crap thats allowed. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • Holy crap, does Apple have a developer documentation somewhere in which it is described what is permitted or not? I would love to publish apps for iOS but this news made me literally "stop the presses". Is there any clear cut reason why they pulled something like that? Maybe I should just stay on Android.
  • They change the rules when it suits them. Developers have literally wasted months of time working on apps only for Apple to pull stuff like this. #parforthecourse As a dev, I think it is worth your time to attempt something but make sure you fit inside the rules and if you push the envelope in any area...tread lightly.
  • Stuff like this is exactly why, no matter how many features iOS pulls from Android, I can never return to iOS as a user. Silly business rules should never trump my ability to use a device when developers are building top notch software.
  • Actually, if you swipe from the bottom up (bottom pane, or whatever it's called), you can access iOS' calculator app. Why doesn't anyone realize this?