Apple doesn’t want you developing hobby apps

Apple still charges a $99 yearly developer fee, even if you don’t want to publish your app on the Appstore!

One of my hobbies consist of building apps. Often times, these apps are focused on a task that’s relevant only to me. For example, two years ago I built an Android app that connected to my custom built soil sensor to send myself a notification when my plant was dry.

This year, I started learning about BLE using the Nordic NRF52 microcontroller. I wanted to make a companion app on my iPhone to provide me with some sensor readings. This is all for education and personal use, and not meant to be used by anyone else but myself.

To my disappointment, one week after uploading the app to my iPhone, it no longer opened!

App Expired

Apparently, the provisioning certificate that Xcode provides only lasts one week! I would need to rebuild the app through Xcode and upload it to my iPhone every week to continue to use it.

Or, I could pay the $99 yearly Apple Developer Fee 😭

This will provide me the ability to use my app for up to one year on my device.

Wait, why am I paying for an app that’s not being distributed?

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with this idea when it comes to apps that I plan to distribute. I’m using their servers, and their infrastructure to handle updates, reviews, payments, etc. But for apps that just live on my device and nowhere else? This seems pretty greedy. After all, I already paid $2.5K for the Macbook and $1.1K for the iPhone. What more do they want?

Now some comments on Reddit try to justify this by saying:

You not only get access to Xcode, you also get access to UIKit and SwiftUI. In addition, you get access to all of Apple’s other Frameworks, SDK’s,

So basically, I pay a yearly fee to get access to their SDK? Most manufactures provide that to you for free because they really want you to build apps for their platform.

Appstore Guidelines are confusing

Don’t even try publishing your niche hobby application to the Appstore, as it might get rejected due to rule 4.2

If your app is not particularly useful, unique, or “app-like,” it doesn’t belong on the App Store.

Useful to who? Just myself or useful to a general audience? So, if the app is only useful to myself then let me run it on my own device indefinitely without paying a fee to do it!

All of this just smells of greed. But then again, I guess this is why Apple is a trillion dollar company. I should be thankful they don’t make me pay a yearly developer fee for making python apps on my Macbook.