The App Apple Just Un-Blocked

Apple just un-blocked an app by the name of Wehe this afternoon after a second round of screening. Earlier in the day, several sources reported that the app had been blocked and that Apple hadn't made clear the reasons why. Since then, the Wehe app was returned to the app store for all iOS devices. Meanwhile the Android version of the app had no such trouble in its listing on Google Play.

The app is part of the wider Meddle system, made by Northeastern University researcher David Coffnes to sniff out net neutrality offenders. The app tests the network with which a device connects to the internet. Wehe is delivered to users as an app for both Android and iOS.

Before we get too far down the rabbit hole – know this: Apple seems to have been in favor of Net Neutrality for a while now. This app's removal from the App Store might just have been because it was slightly confusing for the uninitiated.

When I run the app on my Android smartphone, seven apps are available for testing. These test-friendly apps include Netflix, Skype, NBC Sports, YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon, and Spotify. These are the same 7 apps that'd show up on any device running said app – Android and iOS included. These apps were used to test network speeds with which each app is allowed to run.

When the test is run, each app is put through a series of actions which request data from each of the seven app sources. These services are major names in mobile media. As such, they're prime targets for carriers to demand cash in exchange for the data speed fast lane.

If this app shows some apps running significantly faster than others, it's a good sign that your data provider is throttling some services, but not others. It's not a 100% foolproof system, but it is a perfectly simple way to demonstrate how net neutrality affects our lives right here, right now.

When this article was written, the

To attain the Wehe app, head to Google Play for Android, and stay tuned for the iOS app, once it's live.

NOTE: The app was pulled from the iOS app store by Apple for a period of time on Thursday, the 18th of January, 2018. Choffnes provided Motherboard with information about the app's reinstatement to the app store.

"Apple asked Choffnes to provide a technical description of how his app is able to detect if wireless telecom providers throttle certain types of data," wrote Jason Koebler of Motherboard, "and 18 hours after he did, the app was approved." It would appear that the removal of this app from the app store in the first place was due to Apple's strict "No Apps that Don't Do The Things They Claim To Do" policy, which is sort of open-ended.

The App Store Developer Agreement reads as follow. "Your app should include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website. If your app is not particularly useful, unique, or 'app-like,' it doesn't belong on the App Store." You gotta be app-like if you want to app an app!