The app Amphetamine is a simple but useful macOS utility which can be configured to keep a Mac awake, preventing the computer from going into sleep mode. It’s been available on the Mac App Store for some 6 years, where it’s accrued over a thousand favorable ratings from users. Given the nature of the app, its name makes sense; amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant commonly used in the treatment of conditions like narcolepsy.
That’s why developer William Gustafson was so surprised when Apple got in touch in late December to threaten Amphetamine with removal from the Mac App Store.
A representative cited App Store Guideline 1.4.3, which states: “Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco or vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on the App Store. Apps that encourage minors to consume any of these substances will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of marijuana, tobacco, or controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies) isn’t allowed.”
Apple told Gustafson that to avoid removal from the Mac App Store, he’d have to rebrand Amphetamine completely; Apple was unhappy with both the app’s name and its icon, which takes the form of a small pill. This not only meant a lot of work for the developer, but it also posed serious risks to Amphetamine’s current brand awareness – something Gustafson had built up over years.
Fortunately, after making an appeal and speaking with an Apple representative, the company swiftly backtracked. According to Gustafson, Apple now realizes that the app’s name is being used in a metaphorical sense, and that the macOS utility isn’t promoting inappropriate use of controlled substances.
While this is undoubtedly good news for Amphetamine, it’s nevertheless disappointing to see another case of Apple’s unusual approach to enforcing App Store Guidelines. It seems bizarre that a utility as popular (and innocent) as Amphetamine was placed at the center of this dispute, especially when countless other macOS apps violate Apple’s guidelines far more overtly.