May 25, 2022

Apple’s approach to NFT applications is still a gray area. The company allowed the NFT marketplace OpenSea to run the app, but only for viewing NFTs, not for buying and selling them. The same goes for the Rarible iOS app, which is described as an NFT browser for “viewing” blockchain collectibles. Other NFT applications offer similar search functionality. But the lack of an official guide to NFT on iOS makes it difficult for app developers to understand where the line is and where it is not.

One of the developers who is first in line is Alan Lamiman, founder of Daily Apps.

Lamimann created the Sticky mobile app for the “NFT” marketplace, which lasted for several months on the App Store before Apple shut it down. During that time, Apple approved more than half a dozen updates to the app that used the word “NFT” in the same way, eventually leading to the removal of the app. But Apple eventually told Sticky that using the term “NFT” for digital collectibles that weren’t built on a public blockchain was misleading. Lamimann said Sticky didn’t have time to make changes to the app before removing it.

To be fair, the Sticky app ran in a blurry environment. He used his personal ledger, which was revealed in the app’s description on the App Store. The company also explained to users that its NFTs are “collectible” and not “securities, convertible securities or investments.”

Removal is an interesting example of how Apple decides what is and what is not in the App Store. It’s also another indicator of how Apple makes decisions when it comes to dealing with developers’ use of new technologies and terminology.

image credit: sticky

For a while, it seemed like Sticky had found a loophole in Apple’s vague rules for NFT applications.

As the name suggests, Sticky debuted in 2020 as a sticker maker tool. But it was later redesigned to focus on NFTs when the earlier model failed financially. The revamped app started gaining popularity around December 2021 and received positive reviews. According to Lammaman, Sticky started raising money.

The most recent version of the app allowed creators to put “NFTs” on Sticky’s ledger. Users can only sell items created in Sticky within Sticky, where NFT images are watermarked unless they belong to you. The company stated that this prevented them from copying and reselling in other markets such as OpenC. Sticky is carried out using “StickyCoin”, which is not a cryptocurrency. The StickyCoins themselves were purchased in bundles using standard in-app purchases.

Lammaman clarified that the decision was an attempt to comply with Apple’s policies.

“Apple has a lot of restrictions on cryptocurrency apps,” he said. While no policy explicitly prohibits offering an in-app currency that is also a cryptocurrency, we thought it would be best to avoid this issue, which is why StickyCoin is the regular in-app currency. Currencies. ,

Creators may “cash out” their “NFT” sales only after meeting anti-fraud requirements, including providing their real name, photo, and address. Sticky claimed that the artwork had been checked for plagiarism before payment and that additional proof of authenticity would be requested for each of the artworks in question. (We can’t test this as the app is no longer available). Payments will be sent to creators via PayPal at the end of the month – StickyCoins themselves are not redeemable for cash.

At the time of its removal, Sticky only allowed primary trading; It states that secondary trading features are in development. This disappointed users who believed that secondary sales should be part of every NFT marketplace.

No app “NFT”

but – and this is a big but – there were sticky ledgers Not Decentralized or open source blockchain, such as the networks that support Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is a proprietary centralized accounting system managed by Sticky without any transparency.

This falls into a tricky area. Apple has suggested that Sticky’s use of the term “NFT” to describe its digital collectibles is misleading as they were not built on a decentralized public blockchain. NFTs did not have specific addresses on the blockchain and were not bought or sold using cryptocurrencies. In fact, it is difficult to prove that the ledger existed at all.

Many users also agreed that these are not what they considered NFT transactions.

Several user reviews (cached by Sensor Tower before the app was removed) were from people calling Sticky a scam or misleading because the collectibles were purchased with in-app coins and not regular cryptocurrency – complaints that the reaction Apple is also reflected. The lack of secondary trade was also frequently noted.

image credit: Sticky App Store Review

Sticky tried to appeal the removal of the App Store. It has filed an update that will allow users to export their Sticky NFTs to the public blockchain.

This was done to allay concerns about Sticky controlling its own ledgers and complaints that mislead users of the word “NFT”. The updates were rolled out on March 12, 2022 — two days after Apple first told Sticky it couldn’t use the term “NFT.” The app has since been reviewed and the update has not been approved.

The company notes that it cannot send updates or bug fixes to existing users. Sticky tried several times to contact Apple via email and phone, but only received voicemail. In an emailed response from Apple, the companies were advised to wait for a decision:

“I understand that you are concerned that the review of your application will take longer than expected. Your application is still under review and will require additional time. We will provide further status updates as soon as possible or contact you if we need more information.”

And though what Sticky did was unnecessary Mistake or directly restricted by the App Store’s review rules, it operated in a dubious field, offering its own ledger that had no developer platforms, white papers, or any means for the public to contribute. The website only says that it is “research” the registry to keep it open and “up to date”. This set it apart from other organizations that used proprietary accounting systems. For example, the NBA Top Shot was built on its own blockchain, but it was also more transparent about how it worked and allowed the public to contribute.

For consumers, this meant risk when using the Sticky service. Sticky controlled the entire system, so at any time it could turn off or overwrite its network, and users could lose their work and archive. Apple seems to have made a big choice here in favor of consumer protection. No doubt it was probably right. (Apple did not respond to a request for comment.)

While the risks to consumers are clear and Apple’s decision is certainly understandable, it’s a matter of concern that this app was originally approved to work. Sticky also didn’t have a chance to fix his issues before he was removed, which seems unfair; In the worst case scenario, Sticky may fall back into the Sticker app while things are sorted out.

But the big problem is that developers like Sticky don’t have access to clear and documented rules explaining how NFT apps in the App Store should or shouldn’t work. They have to feel things by coming up with ideas, seeing if they work, and then anticipating how long the trip will take.

According to Sensor Tower, Sticky had 484,000 all-time installs before it was removed from the App Store.

Lamimann said the company would not escape the ban, so the company decided to go public with its concerns.

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