Apple Revokes iFixit's Developer License for Posting Pre-Release Apple TV Breakdown Video

There's a line that iOS app developers have to walk, but it's really not that hard to do. Apple is kind enough to make beta versions of software available, but we can't publicly disclose the details. Apple provides firewall- and password-protected forums so we can chat with other licensed developers, but that's about it. Apple even went so far as to provide actual hardware, the $149 Apple TV, for just $1 to a few select developers. This was unprecedented; I've never been offered an iPhone before the public release, or even the Apple Watch (although Apple did offer the opportunity to fly to Cupertino to test apps in their lab.)

Unfortunately, the people at iFixit, a repair shop and parts depot that prides itself in posting videos showing them tearing down Apple gear, jumped the gun. As an app developer, albeit of an outdated app, iFixit was one of the lucky few to win the new Apple TV early-access lottery. but the company didn't use that opportunity to develop Apple TV apps, as intended by Apple. It did one of its teardown videos, but deliberately didn't wait to post it. Instead, iFixit put it online a few days ago, and Apple took note.

Now, iFixit's blog details Apple's response. (Emphasis mine.) "Not too long ago, we tore down the Apple TV and Siri Remote. The  developer unit we disassembled was sent to us by Apple. Evidently, they didn’t intend for us to take it apart. But we’re a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA—and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway."

Coming Soon - Apple TV

Their app has been pulled, along with their developer license. Apple is understandably ticked off and I wouldn't be surprised if they hold back on early access to other devices in the future, ruining it for all developers and ultimately consumers as less apps will be ready at launch. The fact is, iFixit was never a good candidate for the program, as nobody would expect them to produce an Apple TV app. On the other hand, Pixar is a great audience to try the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil before it is released to the public.

Oh, and iFixit is all in favor of someone else developing an app for them. (Again, emphasis mine.) "Our old app is open source if you’d like an example to build upon. Just respect our license and don’t put ads in it." I love that iFixit wants you to honor its license. Something it chose not to do with Apple.

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.