Launcher is coming back to the App Store, after a fracas with Apple late last year over the rules regarding widgets in the Today view of Notification Center. According to the developer, Greg Gardner, Apple has changed its mind on how widgets in Notification can function—something we’ve seen before. Launcher will be back in the App Store tomorrow.
It’s worth noting that the app was originally pulled because Apple said apps were not allowed to have widgets that launched other applications. Apple has seemingly had a change of heart, because the application is returning with the exact same features as six months ago. Read on for the full rundown on what happened.
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According to Gardner, upon removal from the store he began working on variants of the program that would comply with Apple’s seemingly arbitrary guidelines and allow him to get some version of Launcher back listed in the App Store.
Gardner submitted versions of the app every month with different feature sets. “Most were rejected”. However, in January, he managed to appeal a review of Music Launcher. This was finally approved for release and is still available today. Note that Music Launcher does not actually launch any apps so there was no real reason for it to get rejected.
Anyway, spurred on by that ‘victory’, Gardner then tried to get ‘Contact Launcher’ approved. It uses URL schemes to perform actions like ‘call’, ’email’ and ‘FaceTime’. It was initially rejected but appeal overturned it once more.
As this did open other apps through URL schemes, Gardner was frustrated at how this was somehow allowed but the full Launcher wasn’t — despite being functionally identical. He contacted Apple for clarification. Apple told him they were going to re-review Launcher, and it eventually got approved, with no direct communication externally to developers that such functions are now allowed in Today view widgets.
According to Gardner, since the original removal, Apple has been very clear in saying that they may loosen the restrictions placed on Today widgets over time. Six months since the original set of rejections, Launcher will be available in the App Store tomorrow. You’ll be able to download it here when it becomes available.