Yesterday, Apple revoked Facebook’s iOS enterprise app certificates for violating its Phrases of Service, and right now, Apple is giving the identical therapy to Google. In response to a report from The Verge, Apple has shut down Google’s internal iOS apps for doing the exact same thing Facebook was doing—distributing enterprise apps outside of the company.
Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program allows developers to distribute iOS apps outside of the walled garden of the App Store but only under the condition that they limit this distribution to employees only. Yesterday, news broke that both Google and Facebook had built data-sucking “research” apps on Apple’s enterprise app program and that both companies were caught distributing these apps to research participants outside the company. Facebook’s app program was public first and was banned by Apple, with the company reiterating that “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked.”
Google’s program was discovered later in the day, and while Google apologized and disabled the app, today the other shoe dropped, and Google’s internal apps were banned.
It’s a big deal to have your enterprise app certificate revoked, since it powers a company’s internal-only iOS apps as well as beta apps that many employees are running. A blocked certificate doesn’t just mean you can’t update the app—the entire app stops working. The Verge reports that “early versions of Google Maps, Hangouts, Gmail, and other pre-release beta apps have stopped working today, alongside employee-only apps like a Gbus app for transportation and Google’s internal cafe app.” Google probably has a higher distribution of Android devices than most companies, but having a good chunk of your employees’ smartphones go down, in addition to having iOS app testing halted, sounds pretty bad for productivity.
It is unclear what Facebook and Google are expected to do to remedy the situation. Clearly, Apple can’t ban Google and Facebook from iOS enterprise development and testing forever, and the companies will need to come together and work something out. In the meantime at Google, it’s Android or bust.
Update: Google gave a statement to VentureBeat, saying “We’re working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon.”
Update 2: According to Mark Bergen of Bloomberg, Google’s inside iOS apps are again up.