NaNplayer Rejected From App Catalog (Updated) | webOS Nation

NaNplayer Rejected From App Catalog (Updated)

by Jason Robitaille Thu, 10 Sep 2009 4:34 pm EDT

We have our first report of an app rejected from Palm's app catalog, but at least there's a clear and understandable (if somewhat maddening) reason.

Remember that impressive music player app we posted previews of a while ago? Yes, NaNplayer.  Well, its developer, know to PreCentral forums as Blubble, today informs us that Palm has denied NaNplayer entry into the App Catalog:

I have some bad news folks. Palm has told me that they will not allow my music player NaNplayer into the App Catalog at the current time. [...]

Palm stated that they don't support music file indexing and consequently won't admit the app into the App Catalog. It doesn't seem to matter that the app is works just fine on the Pre and that it is substantially better than their pathetic stock music player in terms of features and performance. [...]

I won't spite the user community just because of Palm's decision. I will release NaNplayer to the Homebrew gallery once it is done. However, this will still leave most Pre users to get by with a music player that doesn't even let them create a playlist. However, I will slow the pace of development considerably. I can't continue to dedicate so much time to developing an app that may never be released to the majority of webOS users. In all likelihood, I will not develop any more webOS apps in the future.

Essentially, it appears the issue is that NaNplayer uses an undocumented API -- the same one the default music player uses -- to query music files on the device and their metadata (artist, album, genre, etc.). It's an incredible shame such a fine app is being denied, seemingly based off a useful API that probably should have been included with the official SDK.

While I do sympathize with Blubble, it's best to look at both sides of the issue.  An undocumented API is undocumented for a reason. Palm may alter it in the future and I'm pretty sure its usage violates the SDK EULA.

One thing this rejection does clearly show is the potential breadth of homebrew apps like those you find on PreCentral vs. the App Catalog, but there's a catch. Given that our homebrew section is an unofficial testing environment for apps, developers are free to experiment with undocumented API and do things not normally possible with the standard app. But that experimentation comes with the risk that using such APIs could have unintended consequences or Palm could change them and break the app.

This is just an unfortunate situation all around. Hey, at least there's our homebrew app gallery. Not only that, Palm can learn from this situation by looking at what's being done in the homebrew scene and improving their API based on what the average developer wants. Hint: the average developer wants to use the music files on the Pre.

UPDATE: Chuq has responded in the forums regarding the issue:

NaNPlayer is using APIs that are currently private because they will change significantly in a future release. Although we aren't able to support the functionality that JC needs right now, we are listening to the community to help prioritize which APIs and features we put into webOS.

While we can’t accept NaNPlayer into the App Catalog right now, we are not rejecting it, and we are happy for it to continue life as a homebrew application until we get to the point where we can release public, supportable APIs for the functionality that it requires.

Chuq Von Rospach
Palm Developer Community Manager