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CamerAlert for iOS An Update

Article by: Darren Griffin
Date: 11 Sep 2014


With Apple's Keynote earlier this week announcing that iOS 8 will be available to download on September 18th I thought it was time we updated you all on our battle with them over CamerAlert. It's a lengthy tale so bear with me!


You will recall that a minor bug fix update was refused because it Apple decided that our app breached some of their restrictions in that it condones or encourages illegal activity. let's ignore the myriad of other apps, some from big names, that do the same, for now.


After much to-ing and fro-ing, we were advised that the app would be permitted if it offered other functionality as well and were told that something as simple as a MPH-KPH conversion table (yes really), would tick the box.


So we added that, re-submitted and were refused yet again. After much to-ing and fro-ing the last we heard was from the review team saying that the app would be pulled as it was, but that they would have a discussion and get back to us in 2 days, that was months ago.

We decided the best we could do in the interim was to do nothing. Further contact risked them pulling the app and so we kept quiet, they never got back to us and the app remained in the app store.


Now that iOS 8 is imminent we may have to face this battle yet again. Whilst the app works fine under iOS 8 it's possible, indeed likely, that Apple will require every app to be re-submitted as iOS 8 ready. At that point we will face the same issues as we have faced before.


Apple are polar opposite to Google in the way they run their app submission systems and policies. For the end user, the security that Apple afford you is great but for developers, issues such as this are maddening. Discussion is not entertained, they make a ruling and you like it or lump it.


We were faced with similar difficulties when Apple insisted that any app that sold subscriptions had to offer in-app purchases. No big issue there, Apple wanted a cut of the business. But they decided that our app did not meet the guidelines for a subscription service and so could not use Apple's built in charging systems and we had to build our own. OK, we can cope with that. But wait, we cant require registration and we can't use the unique device ID to track a subscription. we can only ask a customer to register. So now we have no way of matching a customer to a subscription when they contact us for help. How crazy is that?


As a small business we work crazily hard to maintain the speed camera database and the apps. It's no mean feat to keep on top of all the updates and changes in development environments and phone hardware but we do OK. But when it comes to dealing with a mega-corp who are intransigent and make arbitrary decisions on a whim we're lost. And even more maddening when the many other speedcam apps such as Trapster continue to be available and have their updates approved.

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Posted by AliOnHols on Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:42 am Reply with quote

Thanks for the latest news on the CA app. It all sounds a bit of a farce. It bust be an absolute nightmare having to deal with such Blockheads.

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Posted by Darren on Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:46 am Reply with quote

We've all lost a fair amount of hair, and sleep, as a result of this. It's maddening but we won't be hanging up the towel.

just thought it was about time we explained why there has been no iOS updates for some time. It's been a bit like living with a wasp's nest, trying to wok around it without waking them up!

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by kaydee2 on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:25 am Reply with quote

Reading this makes me glad I ditched cr Apple and went Android!
Although would you mind if I bear with you rather than bare with you - the weather has turned a bit chillier!!

Posted by Darren on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:32 am Reply with quote

kaydee2 Wrote:
Reading this makes me glad I ditched cr Apple and went Android!

Well even Google are locking down their app submissions now. As a developer I'd rather Google's submission policies (at the moment). But as an enduser I'd prefer to know that app's aren't going to be riddled with trojans and other nefarious stuff.

But let's avoid yet another Android/Apple bunfight. Each to their own and choice is king.
Although would you mind if I bear with you rather than bare with you - the weather has turned a bit chillier!!

Oops, now corrected.

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by kaydee2 on Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:37 am Reply with quote

Thanks - no starting of a bunfight intended!!

Posted by M8TJT on Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:59 am Reply with quote

But as it seems easier to update Android stuff than iOS stuff, how about the requested features, such as making the ding for mobile cameras switchable, being done for the Android community?

Posted by Darren on Thu Sep 11, 2014 11:47 am Reply with quote

We're working on updates for Android at the moment.

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by matthewj on Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:17 am Reply with quote

I thought about this at 5am this morning, as one does, and I think that there is a solution, and a good one. You have to go back to where Apple are with these things - they got a lot of bad press from apps that were helping drunk drivers dodge the police "random check points" that they have there apparently. "Check point on A6 into Kendal", so everyone goes another way. Now look at what CamerAlert does and how is it different to someone who doesn't know?

Turn it around. First, rename it - it is now "SafetyAlert" on iOS. Change the intro text to "Using locations published by the UK police and safety camera organisations, and other sources, you can be sure you are aware of dangerous areas of road while you travel. Now includes the new "hazardous" category of road areas which have had a number of accidents, sourced from the UK Highways Agency and other sources."

Then add another feature - a speed warning. Assuming you can't know the road speeds, I'd go with something like two zones. First is consistent travel at 60 to 63 MPH, and the second is 75+. Both optional and configurable, allowing you to have a warning if you are doing more than 60 on normal roads, or 70+ on motorway (if you are doing 64 on the motorway, no warning).

The app is all about driving safely now. Who could object?

Oh, and "other sources" might include some user reported and verified camera locations. I presume you already get the feeds from the likes of Yorkshire and Cumbria where they say where they are going to put the mobile camera a month ahead.

And finally, it is working for me as-is on the iOS8 GM.

Posted by Darren on Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:23 am Reply with quote

Some great ideas there Matthew.

The speed alert isn't practical though, don't forget we have no way of knowing what road we're on, the map is just an overlay in effect. To accomplish a speed alert we'd need to plot every road's coordinates. An impossible task sadly.

I do think we are going to have to look at a re-launch of some kind but loving the ideas. As you say, perception is key here and we need to get them to look at it differently.

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by M8TJT on Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:47 am Reply with quote

But you could include a couple or three of user configurable (and disable-able) speed alerts. For instance my Honda has two that can be set at different speeds and it produces a single discreet ding (not at all like the CA mobile Yes/No ding) as that speed is exceeded. Another 'safety' feature bringing attention to the driver to his speed.

Posted by Darren on Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:48 am Reply with quote

Yup that could be done, I've seen similar on GPS Speedo apps. Just haven't been that impressed with the facility. But, if it appeases the review team then it's worth adding as an optional feature for sure.

Darren Griffin - Editor

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