So what happened to Sketchshare?

After nearly 3 months on the App Store, we received a very short phone call from Apple. Submit an update of Sketchshare without Game Centre functionality or the App will be removed from the store, you have 2 days to comply. So two days to attempt to implement a Game Center alternative complete with VoIP or remove the sharing functionality from existing Sketchshare users. Neither option was really viable and so 2 days later Apple removed it from Sale.

Sketchshare is the same app as it was in February. We have been working on an update to include Retina support amongst other features, but we have submitted no new code. So we’re wondering why was it allowed through the submission process in the first place. Submission seemed pretty thorough – we were asked to remove the background mode, they suggested that adding voice chat would help us retain this function. Explaining that Sketchshare already included voice chat seemed to add further confusion so we opted for losing the background mode.

It was released into the app store and we appeared in New and Noteworthy in many countries, in the UK we were Apple’s iPad App of the Week. We had very positive and enthusiastic support from our peers and from Sketchshare users, and some fantastic reviews. It’s been great watching people like Paul Kercal collaborate with others and share the results.

Other than Apple/the Banks and Oil companies, the rest of the us are facing a certain degree of uncertainty in our day to day lives. For the independent developer, decisions like this with no time to address the issue totally undermine confidence in the App store. Fortunately, in this case we are our own clients, but what can we really offer external clients? Without knowing the rules, how can we develop iOS solutions with any confidence?

Add to this confusion the alleged removal of apps that use Dropbox for storage. Apple seem to be pushing developers towards using iCloud over any third party solutions. Sketchshare on the other hand is being ejected from an Apple API towards implementing a third party solution. Are we going to be pushed back the other way next year? Who knows.

With the level of confusion and uncertainty surrounding the app store, coupled with competition from the large software companies that were noticeably absent during the early days, the App store no longer offers a realistic means of earning a reliable living anymore.

At least cocos2d-x means supporting multiple platforms isn’t quite the headache it was 2 years ago, just hoping we can get the app working across the other platforms before Apple release their own version 😉


  1. I didn’t started developing for iPhone up to now not only because I’d have to make a huge investment but mainly because the way Apple treats developers.

    Every single day we see new histories like yours and it’s a big flashing banner saying “Keep far from Apple”.

    On the other hand, Apple users are much more used to pay for software than users from other platfoms and it’s a big magnet attracting me to Apple.

  2. I’m sorry to hear that about Sketchshare – it’s a great app and beautifully constructed.

    Actually Wild Fables got hit by the same thing – I was using Game Center for achievements as you find “hidden surprises” within the stories, but in an update Apple asked for me to remove Game Center functionality because Wild Fables is “not a game.” I guess they are cracking down on non-traditional games using Game Center.

    For Battle Map 2 I am implementing my own server back-end (albeit without voice chat at the moment), and probably not using Game Center at all. I originally chose this path because I wanted to support > 4 simultaneous players, but since Battle Map 2 is also “not a traditional game” this probably makes sense. You guys could always do the same for Sketchshare. Drop me a note if you want any info on how I’m doing things.

    Don’t give up – hopefully you guys can get Sketchshare back out there!

  3. A friend of mine ran into this a while ago. I had similar plans for one app and we took to the dev forums, where there was first conflicting information, then silence. This treatment of information, that supposedly worked for Apple a (long) while ago (did it ever?), is poisonous in any partnership scenario. It looked like they loosened up a bit last year and started a more collaborative communication approach with their devs, very sad to see this coming back with those recent cases.

    Mind it shouldn’t be a problem at all for Apple to change direction. All I want to see is a certain lead-time, clear communication and some consulting with their key developers (which in return I would trust more than enough to represent us). Is that asked too much? It is hard to see what the gain for Apple is with something so viciously hitting those trying to be good partners on the other side.

    Really hope to see Sketchshare back soon!

  4. FYI: Apple were rejecting app’s using the Dropbox API because it included a link to their sign-up page where you *could* buy a subscription. Because the same purchases are not offered within the app itself this violates the IAP section of the guidelines, hence the rejections. It’s not a new rule, just one they’re being more thorough with.

    Dropbox have updated their SDK to remove the link and now all is well.

  5. I found this page after trying to download Sketchshare and not being able to find it. Does this mean that Sketchshare isn’t going to be available at all on the iPad? That would be a real shame, because it appears to be just what I was looking for…

  6. Sorry to hear this. Sounds like you’ve been treated in a very shoddy manner. Hope there’s some sort of solution as it’s an excellent app. Good luck.

  7. Thanks for all the feedback. I’ve deliberately avoided replying for a few days while I returned to a calm state, think I’m there now :)

    We’re looking at reworking the app using cocos2d-x and spending a little time looking at what we need in terms of a back end, it’d be a shame to lose the talk functionality but that may be our only option in the short term. We’re still gutted that we can’t finish the update we were working on without removing the sharing function from all those who already have the app.

    @Ray When we get onto the back end I’ll definitely be interested to see how you’re approaching it with BM2 :)

  8. So sorry to hear of your travails. I hope that everything gets sorted out soon. I think it’s a wonderful app and cannot understand why Apple took this action (I’m not a developer-so I don’t really understand the ins and outs). At any rate, I hope that whatever iteration your app takes, I will still be able to sketchshare with my artist friends around the world.

    Being able to talk with friends like Paul Kercal while we drew together is what made the experience a thousand times better than just sketching without the chat.

    I wish you the best.

    Your friend,

    Richard (iPad Junkie)

  9. That sucks bum. Message ends

  10. …just to add. I have only used Sketchshare without the voice chat and it is still an amazing app which offers something nothing else does.

    I found the idea of voice chat a little scary – but then maybe I’m just a bit of a girl

  11. super sad news, thanks for keeping us in the loop and fingers crossed you’re able to launch something new soon. please be in touch if you need any beta testers =)

  12. real shame for you guys, i do hope that you get the new version out, and that it’s not been too dispiriting an experience for you – though i can imagine it’s been a bit of a ‘mare.

    On the upside, as soon as it is out, i’ll be buying a copy! :)