The Notification Center was introduced in iOS 5 as a part of Apple’s revamped notification system. With some recent app rejections and removals, the company is indicating that it is sacrosanct ground, off limits to those who would widgetize or hack it.
Apple has pulled the shortcut app QuickPick from the App Store, just a day after we took a look at it here, as reported by iDownloadBlog. The app had begun shooting up the charts after a wave of attention yesterday, but was pulled from the store today.
The app used a system of URL schemes to add shortcuts to the Notification Center as entries that allow you to tap on them to jump to your favorite apps and settings. The app was a pretty useful, if a tad hacky, implementation of the URL schemes built into iOS that allow you to launch links to apps from the browser, among other things.
But the removal of QuickPick didn’t have anything to do with the fact that it used URL schemes. Those schemes still exist in iOS 5.0.1 and, while their access to sections of the Settings app will be removed in iOS 5.1.0, they will continue to allow the launching of most Apple apps and any third party apps. They’re an integral part of iOS and aid in launching apps from the web, including the App Store.
Instead, it has to do with the fact that Apple doesn’t want anyone subverting the way that Notification Center is supposed to work. By creating notifications that were in fact specially formatted shortcuts, QuickPick changed the behavior of the pane. That is a huge no-no as far as Apple is concerned.
QuickPick isn’t the only app that has been flagged for altering the Notification Center either. Developer David Barnard of Appcubby has pointed out several that have made it through, but will likely be removed soon. Appcubby’s latest app, now awaiting approval, had contained similar functionality, but it has been stripped out to avoid rejection.
Developer Nik Burns has been trying to get an app with similar functionality through the approval process as well, with little luck.
At this point, it seems clear that Apple wants to keep the Notification Center clear of what it views as items that aren’t pure notifications, although it is likely that it will expand on this theme in the future. Apple currently offers two of its own widgets, Stocks and Weather, which are seen by many as a template for what might come in the future.
Whether Apple opens up the Notification Center to other functionality in the future remains to be seen, but for now it’s hands-off. An expanded arsenal of official Apple widgets is likely to precede any release of an API that developers can use to create their own.
Of course, none of this will stop the jailbreak community from using Notification Center as it sees fit. There are dozens of jailbreak apps that modify its behavior and this will likely continue. But as far as official apps, Apple has made clear that they are persona non-grata if they alter the standard ‘you’ve got a notification’ behavior of the pane.