Aral Balkan

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“Apple Says ‘No!’” and what that means for the future of Better Blocker following our move to Ireland

Screenshot of the alert people will see when they launch the latest macOS app, telling them about the migration and what to expect.

We didn’t want to do this.

What’s going on?

In my previous blog post, I asked Apple for a little help with a problem we had with Better Blocker after moving to Ireland and setting up a new not-for-profit here:

We’re a tiny two-person not-for-profit. We used to be based in the UK, where we were known as (and incorporated as a not-for-profit called Article 12). We left the UK (for reasons) and now we have a not-for-profit here in Ireland called Small Technology Foundation. It’s still just Laura and me (and our huskamute, Oskar).

We have an app called Better Blocker … The problem is that we are now faced with having to take it off the App Store as we don’t seem to have a way to migrate our developer account to our new not-for-profit.

What did Apple say?

Still from British TV series Little Britain with the “Computer says no!” woman

Apple: “Computer says no.”

Last week, we got a definite “computer says no” from Apple’s “developer support.”

Screenshot of our Apple Developer account, with the company name and address area (redacted) highlighted with red rectangles.

How Apple could have helped: by running a few queries to update a handful of fields in their database.

What does that mean?

That means that we are forced to:

  1. Remove Better Blocker from our account.
  2. Re-publish Better Blocker from our Small Technology Foundation account.

What does this mean for you if you bought Better Blocker from

How will we handle the process?

Laura and I have made a plan to try and handle this as well as we can given what we do and don’t have control over. Here’s what we’ve done so far and what our plan is for the coming weeks:

  1. Last week, I fixed all the outstanding bugs and implemented a couple of enhancements on the existing macOS and iOS apps.

  2. This morning, I submitted the Better Blocker 2020.1 update for macOS and iOS to Apple from the account as the last update we will be releasing under that account. My hope is that this version will serve you well at least until Apple breaks something in their next OS update.

  3. Just a few moments ago, I made both the macOS and iOS apps free on the App Store. Now that we know we cannot update the app under the account in the future, we cannot keep selling it from that account with a clear conscience.

    If you bought Better Blocker recently and want a refund, please ask for one from Apple.

  4. [We are here right now] Once the 2020.1 updates have been approved by Apple (this could take anywhere from a couple of days to goodness knows when, given that the process – like everything else at Apple – is one giant black box), we will give existing customers two weeks to update their apps.

    After this time, we will remove Better Blocker from the App Store under the Apple Developer account and close the Apple Developer account.

  5. Finally, we will then submit Better Blocker to Apple for review from the Small Technology Foundation account. As and when Apple approves it, Better Blocker will be available for sale again on the App Store for macOS and iOS under the Small Technology Foundation account.

What does this mean for Better Blocker and our tiny two-person not-for-profit?

It means that we will:

This sucks!

This sucks. It sucks for you and it sucks for us. We didn’t want this.

That said, this is just how life is when you’re dealing with trillion-dollar faceless corporations. It’s just one reason why it’s so important that we fund and develop human-scale small tech as an alternative to the strangehold of big tech on our lives. And that’s exactly what I shall return to working on next.

Laura and I are sorry if this causes you any inconvenience. We tried everything we could to avoid this. Sadly, we simply cannot afford to keep two organisations running in two different countries.

Personally, I look forward to the day when our ability to pay the rent is in no way linked to any trillion-dollar corporation.

Like this? Fund us!

Small Technology Foundation is a tiny, independent not-for-profit.

We exist in part thanks to patronage by people like you. If you share our vision and want to support our work, please become a patron or donate to us today and help us continue to exist.