Two years ago, Big Brother Camera Security was a Top 25 Overall App, and merely two months later it was removed by Apple over privacy concerns. Since then, Big Brother was marked on my portfolio as "Banned from the App Store." Today marks 21 months since that day, and I am finally pleased to announce that Big Brother is available yet again on the App Store. 

Dear Daniel Amitay,
The following app has been approved. The status has changed to Ready for Sale.
App Name: Big Brother Camera Security

For those who are unfamiliar, Big Brother Camera Security is a lockscreen imitation app (within the limitations of iOS) for your iPhone that takes a picture of anyone who attempts to gain access to your phone, and sends you an email along with GPS coordinates. It was removed from the App Store by Apple after I had blogged about the Most Common iPhone Passcodes as revealed by the app's usage. From then on, it has been referred to by Huffington Post Tech as one of the 9 Most Controversial Apps Censored By Apple.

I have held back from writing a post for quite a while, in the hopes that Big Brother would have been re-accepted to the App Store sooner, and that my next post could have been this one. The past 21 months consisted of a back-and-forth review process with the review team (13 separate rejections with 8 unique reasons). The result is a version 2.0 of Big Brother, with a number of enhancements and improvements, but also with a number of reductions and aesthetic changes. One thing is certain: having one of your apps banned is no fun--especially if your app was averaging a couple thousand downloads per day. 

To those who have lamented Big Brother's disappearance and awaited it's return, I only wish that I had been able to get it to you sooner, and hope that you enjoy the latest 2.0 version.

Feeling like congratulating me? Download Big Brother from the App Store (it's free!)

AuthorDaniel Amitay

I spent this past weekend in San Francisco attending YCombinator’s Startup School. There was awesome list of speakers including the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, and Paul Graham--not to mention the impressive people in attendance that I had the fortune of meeting.

There were a lot of resonating statements made during the day regarding startups and work in general. At one point during his on-stage “office hour”, Paul Graham said, “don’t choose your idea lightly… its better to do something that is hard if you are capable of doing hard things.” [video] Marc Pincus (from Zynga) spoke about startups and that entrepreneurs should “build a house you want to live in.”

It has been a long time since I have last written a blog post, but these talks really put into perspective what I have begun doing in the past few months since the whole Most Common iPhone Passcodes / Big Brother Removed From App Store fiasco. I wanted to address my silence and Big Brother’s continued absence from the App Store.

I have had a large number of people email me about Big Brother Camera Security, and asking when it will be back on the App Store. The fact of the matter is that Apple apparently doesn’t like me. I’ve emailed up and down the Apple chain of command, called Developer Relations, appealed my app rejection, as well as submitting a completely compliant new version of Big Brother. I’ve received no response from Apple to my countless emails and appeals, and as you can see below, Big Brother has been sitting in the Apple pipeline for quite a while. It wasn’t a total loss--even though it isn’t available anymore, it still gets 2,000 new users every week, although it is a far cry from the previous average of 7,000 users per week.

Although I certainly would prefer to have had Big Brother remain in the App Store, its removal certainly acted as a wake-up call. Until that point (aside from school), I had really only been making small, personal apps and updating Big Brother and my other active apps. Although making these apps was certainly valuable and moderately profitable, there was only so far I could go. Big Brother was certainly a great success for me, but that very success has now created a bar by which I will measure all of my future projects--and frankly, indie app development can only go so far.

Essentially, I’ve moved on. I won’t be developing personal iPhone apps for a long time, if ever again. I’m currently working with a great team of people on something bigger and better, and I want to continue down the road of working on progressively bigger, more challenging projects. In the coming months I should be announcing some of those projects.

For others out there: consider what you are working on at this very moment and ask yourself if there is something bigger you could be doing.

AuthorDaniel Amitay