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SCOtutor Apps - An Update


UPDATE: 27th August 2012 - Apple have reversed their decision and will be re-instating the SCOtutor Video Tutorial Apps into the iTunes Store.

Bit of bad news...

The SCOtutor apps have been extremely well received in both the Mac and iOS apps stores. Each title has appeared in the top charts of their categories when released, and I've have tons and tons of great feedback on them all. They really do appear to have been a valuable resource to many people.

The free apps for iPad and Mac have been well received and I've had lots of comments back from people on how they've helped new users and removed the support burden for many people. They've been in the top education apps since they went free.

I submitted an update to one of my iOS apps a couple of weeks ago with a simple update to the icon. I've been updating all the apps with a new icon across the board.

Surprisingly, the app was rejected.

The approval process has not been without problems so I wasn't too concerned. However, when I read the reason for the rejection, I was taken aback somewhat:

2.21: Apps that are simply a song or movie should be submitted to the iTunes store. Apps that are simply a book should be submitted to the iBookstore

That was a new one.

Perfectly understandable I thought, although none of the other apps had previously been rejected with this ruling, I figured it must be something new.

On the face of it, I totally agree that if an an app is "simply a movie" it should not be in the App Store.

I assumed that they meant "movies", you know, "films" as we say in the UK - "Motion Pictures", "Theatrical Releases" cinematic content produced for purely entertainment reasons - "Movies"

Absolutely! iTunes is the right place for them - no question.

But the SCOtutor Apps are not movies - they are educational tutorials wrapped up in a bespoke player optimised for reviewing and learning. They have special controls for easily navigating the content and all have English captions. The application is engineered for multilingual subtitles that change the popup chapters into the selected language. They are certainly not "just movies".

Confidently, I submitted an appeal against what I thought was a simple misunderstanding.

I received a call last week saying the appeal had been turned down and in Apple's judgement, they were just movies for consumption.


Even worse, they were going to review the rest of the apps and if they were the same, they would pull all the other apps from the stores too.

Double bother!

So, I resisted the urge to vent my spleen via Twitter and decided to think about the situation overnight.

The upshot was that in discussions with Simon Wolf, the SCOtutor developer, we've decided to enhance all the SCOtutor applications with some additional interactive functionality, to change the experience to something more interactive. The first version of the new enhanced SCOtutor app will allow you to create notes and annotate the tutorial using timestamps. Wherever you are in the tutorial, just tap a button and your notes appear, tap another button and the timestamp of your current position will be inserted, allowing you to mark specific points of the video. Tap done and the video will resume playing. In addition, you'll able to export and share the notes via email.

You can't do that with a movie in iTunes!

And we have even more interactivity planned for future releases.

The main ruling against the current SCOtutor app was that it is a passive experience, so we're going to make the SCOtutor apps as interactive as possible to keep the Apps in the App stores. Hopefully, the new version of the App with the extra functionality will be submitted later this week for Apple to review.

I was going to remain quiet, and not even mention this in public

I had hoped we could submit new versions of the Apps before they pulled all the Apps from the stores. However, I've just taken a follow up call from Apple this afternoon, and they confirmed they will be pulling all the Apps from the stores in the next few days.

If you want to get a copy, you'll need to act quick.

I've no beef with Apple applying the letter of the (their) law and if they consider the SCOtutor Apps to be movies, then so be it. We'll just try and make them much more of an interactive experience, and hopefully get them through the approval process and re-instated.

Obviously it's going to cost me more money, time and stress getting the apps updated, but I think it's worth it.

The main reason for pursuing this is that I do feel that this content does belong in the Apps Stores and not in iTunes. They are extremely valuable resources for people and it saddens me to think that the apps would be withdrawn - especially the free titles which have proven to be so popular and helped so many people.

Of course, this does not affect the weekly ScreenCastsOnline service or membership in the slightest - that will continue on as before, the SCOtutor Apps were just a spin off of ScreenCastsOnline.

So this post is not a tirade about the unfairness of the App Store approval process or intended to whip up a frenzy about the injustice of them removing all my apps.

Apple have changed the App Store rules, and the SCOtutor apps have fallen foul of the new rules. On reflection, the ruling has resulted in a better app experience and will actually turn the SCOtutor apps into better products.

Hopefully the new interactive versions of the Apps will be approved and made available via the mechanisms where they are most appropriate.

In the meantime, if you were holding out on getting any of the SCOtutor apps, you'd best act quickly! You can see a page with all the SCOtutor Apps here.

Reader Comments (15)

Don, I so appreciate your reasoned approach. I have all the apps and have recommended them to friends. As a loooong-time user, I have found shortcuts/features I was never aware of!! (Yes, I ended with a preposition!) My concern is this: will our *current* apps be safe from Apple's "reach out and delete" option? Should we move them elsewhere??

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNJentzsch

So sorry to hear about this Don. Your SCOTutor apps are a valuable resource to the Apple Community and I look forward to return to the enhanced Apps to the App Store. I do applaud you for your appropriate response to this situation. While publicly kicking and screaming may have some therapeutic value, it will not help the situation. Kudos to you for taking this in stride and using as it an opportunity to further enhance your wonderful Apps.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Floyd

"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is an ass - an idiot".

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Although I do not personally know you, my respect for you keeps growing over time. I appreciate your resolve and willingness to "roll with the punches." It seems that apple developers have been getting their share lately. I hope this all ends up working out well for you.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKarl Klemm

Thanks for the messages of support - much appreciated!

As far as the current Apps being safe, as far as I know once you've downloaded them, they won't disappear. Not sure what would happen if you delete and try to re-download.

Hopefully the new enhanced app will be approved so there will be no need to fret!

June 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterDon McAllister

This does seem a little odd especially as what you are supplying through the app store only helps to promote the Apple products and software. In fact it fills a void in decent manuals and instruction that Apple don't. Well done for not making it political as we know history has proven there is little point in arguing! I look forward to the updated apps. I for one am particularly looking forward to the Aperture one although I suspect this incident may have added a delay to the release of that! Keep up the good work, We all appreciate it even if some larger organisations can't quite see the 'bigger picture'!

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Jackson

All I can say is Wow! I can see the reasoned approach being the best way to handle this situation, but as a fan I must say I'm more than a bit irate on your behalf. I hope the new and improved apps are approved quickly so you're back up and running again!

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

Well reasoned. Apple is simply, more closely defining categories. Education, always has fairly tight rules (this is one of the things you do), to make sure that learning is actually occurring. If you were operating in a (formal) education environment you would be even more heavily burdened, with "performance" criteria.

This "tightening" is also a method of removing those who put little effort into an app (junk/copy). Better definitions should make for better app's (less rubbish).

As always I enjoy, appreciate and most of all, learn from your work.



June 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Purcell

Good luck. I would be more upset with Apple's high-handed arrogant approach to working with their partners. You are incredibly level headed about this nonsense.

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Hi Don, I want to thank you for the fine APPS, I guess the folks at Apple App department don't know who you are and how you have been promoting Apple over the years. Maybe you can have these "movies" put in iTunesU section? All the best

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoss Craig

Apple is pushing book format , so why not go in the other direction and make an interactive iBook. That is some text and heavy on video content.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermtysk

"Not sure what would happen if you delete and try to re-download": You wouldn't be able to, so make sure you have a backup just in case. The .ipa file(s) should be in your ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Mobile Applications folder, if you sync your iPad with your Mac.

I'm quite sure Apple do have a "remote delete from everyone's iPad" switch as well, but they've never used it AFAIK.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCalum

Sorry to hear of your troubles with the approval process, Don. Rather than pursue the app model, I suggest you try using iBooks Author. I recently purchased and enjoyed an iBook on going paperless (“Paperless”, by John Sparks) and it has loads of interactive material, videos, galleries, etc., and I think it would be a good fit.

The only downside it it being viewable only on the iPad.

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShaun

Nothing for it. Make them a book. Have a serious play with iBooks author or the Adobe publishing packages. Have fun!

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Purcell

Apple is being ridiculous about this. I sent them an email to let them know that I want to see SCOTutor apps as well as other similar quality tutorial apps. I want the functionality that the apps offer, and that's simply impossible in a iTunes video. I support you Don. I hope if we send sensible emails to Apple explaining, maybe they'll come to their senses.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKris Madaus

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