Annoying Apple Paternalism

If only paternalism, or nanny state, started with an 'a' ...

iStat on my iPhone

I draw your attention to the red box ... I haven't had to restart my iPhone in almost a month. I consider uptime to be a badge of honour, especially on a device where "restart it" is often treated as the final step of every complex app install.

I now draw your attention to the green box. This is where, until recently, a "free memory" button was present, which is what I attribute to the lack of troubles I have had. Freeing up the RAM in the iPhone is the main reason, from what I can see, that developers and users alike say you should restart your iPhone after app installs.

A couple of days ago, Apple decided to spread the word to developers that this functionality was not approved - they removed a couple of apps from the store, and told the developers of my app of choice, iStat, that they needed to remove the functionality in order for their update to be approved. From what I have read, the way these apps "free" the memory is by requesting a large amount of ram, forcing the iPhone to dump the contents of "inactive" ram, and killing the background processes that Apple allows (usually Safari, iPod and Mail). In some ways, I can understand why Apple would want this removed - it's a bit of a hack, a "creative use of programming techniques" if you will. But the obvious two questions are (a) why now, and (b) why isn't there an Apple approved way of doing this?

Freeing up the RAM is the best troubleshooting method on the iPhone. On the 3GS, it's a convenience that can make things run a bit smoother. On the 3G, it's basically a necessity for smooth operation of the 3.0 OS. Maybe it's not the best fit with the "Apple Experience", but when it doesn't "just work", it's time to either put in a solution or allow the solution that's already out there.

Oh, and as is likely to happen when you only have 40 staff doing the reviewing (and search&destroy on verboten apps), something like Memory Status is sure to slip through ... Not as elegant as iStat, but does the job.


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