It seems Apple is lowering the boom on iPhone apps that directly access the iPhone’s digital photo media folder.
For some time now a number of iPhone app developers have used the iPhone’s DCIM digital media folder as a backdoor for transferring files between apps and to and from the desktop and the iPhone. (The DCIM folder is one of only places on the iPhone that can be easily accessed via high-speed USB media file transfer utilities.) For the most part the iPhone OS prevents apps from reading and writing to any places on the iPhone file system besides the app’s designated document folder. But the DCIM folder is a big exception. The iPhone doesn’t prevent apps from reading and writing the DCIM folder because access is needed in order to provide apps with access to the camera roll photos and videos.
Apple, however, precludes apps from reading or writing data files to any other place except the app’s “sandbox” document folder through their developer agreement.
This has all created a bit of a tricky situation for developers because we hear from our customers that competitive products support these features. On the other hand it’s not a good strategy to flaunt Apple’s developer agreement.
Apple’s rule is a bit strange. Why is it OK to store image and video files in the DCIM folder but not sound files? What are video files except sound files with moving pictures attached?
So far Apple has required DigiDNA’s FileAid and Good.iWare’s GoodReader to cease using the iPhone’s DCIM digital media folder for transferring files to and from the iPhone. On the GoodReader’s iTunes page Good.iWare declares,
“ATTENTION, USB File Transfer was REMOVED due to Apple’s demand, to avoid violation of Apple’s rules”
According to iPhone Explorer maker mypodapps.com:
…It is now with great sadness and disappointment that I bring you the news that our USB transfer support for these App Store apps will soon end. We have recently discovered that our current means by which we enable iPhone apps to gain USB access puts these apps in violation of the App Store rules. To avoid the boot, over the course of the next several days, App Store apps with USB access may release updates that remove this privilege… If you are iPhone App developer who just submitted an update, and you see a orange/yellow dot next to your app’s status, with the message “Waiting for Export Compliance” this may be a result of the newly apparently stance on USB transfer…
Lexcycle’s Stanza (now owned by Amazon) still supports USB to DCIM folder transfer of eBooks.
ReaddleDocs another popular PDF reader app also still supports USB to DCIM folder transfer and supplies a utility to upload your documents.
Amidio (maker of one of last month’s most controversial App Store limbo apps TouchDJ) makes a range of music and synthesizer apps that use the DCIM folder for sound sample transfer between their own apps like Noise.io and JR Hexatone and promotes the technique as a “standard” they call ioLibrary. Updates to both Noise.io and JR Hexatone are apparently awaiting approval from Apple.