A popular, award-winning iPhone keyboard for blind users is shutting down. The reason? The developer says that Apple has made it impossible to continue.
That app? FlickType, a replacement keyboard for both the iPhone and Apple Watch that is designed to work in tandem with VoiceOver, Apple’s screen reading technology. It’s lauded praise from the press, and even the National Federation of the Blind, who called it “a much faster experience than the standard iOS keyboard.”
The app’s developer says that Apple has been incorrectly rejecting the app from the App Store for years. Every time, the developer has appealed and Apple has relented, until the latest rejection. The developer says they contacted the company nine times last week, with no reply, and feels that “they seem to be ignoring our attempts to contact them directly.”
The plot thickens even further, with FlickType’s developer suing Apple back in March of this year. While the allegations focused on “roadblock after roadblock” that the iPhone maker supposedly threw up, there was also an inference of market manipulation.
See, Apple was in the process of trying to buy FlickType from the developer, Kosta Eleftheriou, and the lawsuit alleges that the issues he found in getting the app into the App Store were to make him “simply give up and sell its application to Apple at a discount.”
Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, or even the reversal of the App Store decision, Eleftheriou wants Apple to apologize for what he characterizes as “developer abuse.” Speaking to Ars Technica, he also says he’s going to “try and provide the watch keyboard, for now at least,” so he’s not given up on his loyal FlickType users.
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