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DJI Pilot App released under "Enterprise License" = risk
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17078 46 2015-1-13
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jwight
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(Background: I'm an iPhone app developer and have been making iOS apps since the iOS AppStore opened. I don't have my Inspire-1 yet - should be here Thursday.)
(Copy of this post here as a backup: https://gist.github.com/schwa/1122ddbe351535be419c)

tl;dr DJI is distributing the DJI Pilot app using a mechanism that Apple does not authorise and they risk Apple "kill switching" the software.

Over the last few days I've been checking the iOS AppStore to see if the DJI Pilot app was available on it so I can install and try it out before I get my quadcopter. I found nothing, despite seeing YouTube videos from Inspire-1 owners who were definitely running the app on their iPad. This made me wonder why - when I realised the app receives video directly from the controller via the USB/Lightning cable. This is _not_ an iOS feature currently available to developers who want to release on the AppStore. (with the conspicuous exception of the “Duet Display” app - more on that later)

This made me realise that DJI must be distributing the app under an Enterprise certificate and not with an AppStore certificate that we developers normally use to distribute apps on the AppStore. I noticed a link to the app in the Inspire manual and after a little bit of cheating (it required that I enter my Inspire S/N which I dont have yet) I managed to download the app and inspect it to confirm that it indeed was signed using an Enterprise profile: (see screenshot here https://www.dropbox.com/s/6n55dpj0vm7ccc1/Screenshot%202015-01-13%2021.37.45.png?dl=0 )

Quick background: individuals and companies who want to sell (or give away) apps on the AppStore sign up for the iOS Developer program and are able to build and distribute apps using AppStore certicates. As part of this program they submit apps for review to Apple, who make sure the app is following all the rules (and not say, receiving video via USB). One of the limitations is that AppStore developers cannot just distribute the app to whoever they like (with the exception of a small number of beta testers) - everyone must go via the AppStore to install the app.

Enterprise program members, on the other hand are not limited by the same rules. They can make apps that anyone can install on their devices without going through the AppStore. And also - because they bypass the AppStore - these apps can do things that Apple would not normally allow. This is how the DJI Pilot app is able to receive video directly over the USB/Lightning cable. The catch, and this is the dealbreaker - is that these Enterprise apps can ONLY be distributed to members of the enterprise in question.

In fact this is spelt out quite clearly on the main Apple Enterprise Program page (https://developer.apple.com/programs/ios/enterprise/): "Get tools and resources for developing proprietary, in-house iOS apps that you can distribute to your employees". The DJI Pilot app is NOT in-house and is NOT being distributed to just DJI employees. (This, of course, described legally and very verbosely in the actual Enterprise program terms and conditions).

So all this would really be none of our business if not for the fact that Apple can decide at will to revoke DJI’s Enterprise certificate and stop everyone (you, me and all Inspire users) from using the app. They can, in effect, pull a remote “kill switch” that will disable the App. Because DJI is breaking their Enterprise agreement with Apple, Apple is more than within their rights to do this. In fact Apple has in the past done exactly this to other enterprises that have pulled the same trick (see for example: http://www.macrumors.com/2014/02/19/gba4ios-game-boy-emulator/)

Will Apple do this? Personally I doubt it - DJI isn’t doing anything malicious, and to be quite honest the iPad controlled Inspire looks great for Apple too. Can Apple do this? Definitely. Is Apple within their rights to do this? Again, definitely. Will this mean your $3000 drone will suddenly have a large part of its functionality rendered useless? Yes.

So if Apple was to do this what could DJI do? They’d have to remove functionality that was unavailable to them if they were to release it on the AppStore (e.g. video over USB/Lightning).

But I bet a lot of Inspire users would go out and buy a Nexus ? immediately though.

You may be wondering why DJI is breaking their agreement with Apple and releasing the App like this? Again it comes down to video over USB/Lightning. As mentioned this is not something that AppStore apps can usually do. And I believe DJI either tried to get DJI Pilot on the AppStore and failed (perhaps asking Apple for an exception for this feature) or decided to bypass the issue completely and went straight for the Enterprise release.

In the last couple of weeks an app receiving video via USB/Lightning has appeared on the AppStore: “Duet Display” (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/duet-display/id935754064?mt=8) allows you to use an iPad as a second monitor for your Mac - and it transmits video from the Mac via USB/Lightning. As all developers up to now thought that technique was off-limits this naturally caused a lot of controversy: https://medium.com/@mronge/apple-is-usb-allowed-now-8da959394e82

Now that this precedent has been set it MIGHT be possible for DJI to go with the AppStore route. And I really hope that DJI are trying as hard as they can to get the DJI Pilot app released this way.

If they’re not - then I hope bringing this issue into the open will help pressure them into at least trying this route.

If attempts to get DJI Pilot onto the AppStore fail then I think it’s useful for all Inspire-1 and iOS users are aware of this situation and know that DJI is playing rather “fast and loose” with their customer’s purchases.

2015-1-13
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jwight
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Related forum post: http://forum.dji.com/forum.php?m ... ra=page%3D1&lang=en
Note the limit mentioned in that thread of "3 downloads" per serial number is a DJI restriction and not an intrinsic limitation of the way the app is being distributed as an Enterprise app. If you have a link to the app you can download and install it as often as you like
2015-1-13
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jwight
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Also of concern: note in the screenshot of the app "provisioning profile" (?dl=0) it shows an expiration date of Friday October 23.

Enterprise apps do have a built-in expiration date the DJI Drone app will stop working on that date if if either DJI fails to release a new version with an extended expiration date or if you fail to download a new copy before that date.

AppStore apps do not have the same problem and should continue to work regardless no matter what (excluding problems with new versions of IOS etc)
2015-1-13
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gwhiz2k
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Another reason to dislike Apple. I'm now wishing I'd gotten an Android tablet instead of an iPad Air. It will royally suck if Apple does this. I wouldn't put it past them.
2015-1-13
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jwight
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gwhiz2k Posted at 2015-1-14 15:24
Another reason to dislike Apple. I'm now wishing I'd gotten an Android tablet instead of an iPad Air ...

Blame DJI - _not_ Apple.

DJI is playing fast and loose with their relationship with both Apple and DJI's customers.
2015-1-13
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gwhiz2k
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jwight Posted at 2015-1-14 15:26
Blame DJI - _not_ Apple.

DJI is playing fast and loose with their relationship with both Apple an ...

As you said thought, this could primarily be about Apple limiting a specific functionality that is NEEDED for this system to work. They like to pull that kind of thing often when it benefits them.

Question though: Doesn't the older Phantom app already do this, and is available on the App Store?
2015-1-13
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jwight
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gwhiz2k Posted at 2015-1-14 15:32
As you said thought, this could primarily be about Apple limiting a specific functionality that is ...

Apple's policies often exist to protect their end-users. They're very cautious around things like security and battery life.

On top of that this feature is NOT something even Apple uses themselves. There are no Apple products doing this and there's no guarantee that DJI (or anyone else doing this) isn't doing it via some really bad hacky manner that Apple isn't happy people using.

We just don't know. And kneejerk blaming of Apple isn't warranted. Again - DJI is the one risking your $3000 purchase (or at lease your iPad purchase).

I don't know about the Phantom app - does it use WIFI instead maybe?
2015-1-13
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gwhiz2k
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Apple's policies exist to benefit Apple.

If this ends up being true about limiting functionality that is clearly needed for something like this (high quality video from a drone), then it's obvious that any drone owner should be using Android going forward. I'm just kicking myself that I decided to go Apple against my gut-feeling and better judgement.

Maybe it's a good idea to sell the iPad and get a proper Android.
2015-1-14
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Drone Down Unde
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Oh Boi I'm no fan boy of any company but wont be flying my Inspire 1
2015-1-14
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mhaislet
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Snap just ordered a I pad mini 2 A7  from best buys it will be here in two days guess having a Samsung S4 or S5 phone may be a good thing for a back up with its tiny lil screen..Ugh.

single controller to Hdmi out to a monitor on a tripod was the plan any who.
2015-1-14
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joeztan
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The  Vision+ app isn't affected since it streams video and telemetry over WiFi.

The LightBridge iOS app has never been on the App Store. I just hope that DJI can find a legal way for their Pilot and Lightbridge app to go onto the AppStore. Obviously Duet Display managed to do it, maybe DJI are hoping that the policies will change in the future?

It is clear that currently DJI are in violation of agreements as developers. That is not very professional.
2015-1-14
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wolftj
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Apple may be a lot of things but consistent is not one of them. Any app developer knows it's a roll of the dice when you send in your package to Apple to get it reviewed and approved. If not approved, often resubmission to a different reviewer will get it approved unchanged. There are tricks to do this which I won't go into. I digress somewhat to get back to the point at hand, I found this Enterprise Program Description from the WWDC 2014 on the iOS Developer Center. "Leverage key Apple programs such as the Volume Purchase Program and the iOS Developer Enterprise Program to get the right apps in the hands of your employees, contractors, and partners." One could certainly say we are all "Partners" after plunking down $3000 for one of these things, yet another interpretation of that "partner" word that seems to be all the rage these days in corporate boardrooms and such.
2015-1-14
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Daninho
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gwhiz2k Posted at 2015-1-14 15:24
Another reason to dislike Apple. I'm now wishing I'd gotten an Android tablet instead of an iPad Air ...

this is a good thing, it actually prevents from suspicious apps on your device.

Interesting article i have to say. It seems i also bought the wrong tablet with the air2.
2015-1-14
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Audiodan
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The drag is that outside of some reports of the ios app crashing, people generally say that the video stream is superior to that of the Android app. I was seriously considering an air, but now? Shrug!
2015-1-14
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jwight
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As I mentioned last night - I don't expect Apple to do this - but they could.

I'm planning on using my iPad, if you have one - you might as well too.
2015-1-14
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jwight
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wolftj@mindspri Posted at 2015-1-14 17:47
Apple may be a lot of things but consistent is not one of them. Any app developer knows it's a roll  ...

We're customers not partners. Much as me buying a Ford truck doesn't make me "partner" with Ford.
2015-1-14
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NorthernLoop
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Apple have always locked their devices down, so in that aspect people know they are getting a device that can be limited.


I have never understood the higher prices of Apple but its supply and demand at basic.

I'm not a Apple user or fan because I like to be able to change settings on my device. If you have purchased one then you have yp accept their T&CS.

2015-1-14
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leostrat_54
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jwight Posted at 2015-1-14 22:37
We're customers not partners. Much as me buying a Ford truck doesn't make me "partner" with Ford.

Two reasons Apple won't pull the plug:

1 We ARE employees of DJI (aren't we all Beta testing this drone for them?)  ;-)

2  Apple doesn't want to lose 100,000+ iPad sales.
2015-1-14
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Blade_Strike
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They have been providing the LB app this way for almost a year now. I wouldn't worry so much
2015-1-14
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gwhiz2k
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I'll plan on also installing the app on my Nexus 5, just in case something happens. Small screen, but at least I'll still have functionality.
2015-1-14
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AcesAreWld
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Great write-up jwight. I am a fellow iOS AppDeveloper, specifically focusing on MFi Products. The Lightbridge and Inspire1 are both MFi Products that need Apple hardware approval and certification in addition to the software approvals to get on the App Store. The Phantom Vision+ uses Wifi for connectivity and does not need MFi Approvals and has an easier time getting on the App Store itself as well.

Everything you say about the enterprise cert is exactly right, I've known it, several others have too... we'll see what pans out but I'm certainly not going to be a whistle-blower telling Apple what is going on!  I hope they work out the approvals and get it on the REAL Apple App Store soon.
2015-1-14
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mlglisson
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Wow thanx for the info.
2015-1-14
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wolftj
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The point was jwight that you and I both know what is written in the Apple Review Guidelines is subject to a broad range of interpretations by their hundreds of reviewers, and hoards of staff. I've found most of their other "rules" up for interpretation too, like when they told me that my client was "not a recognized institution such as the manufacturer of these medications, or a hospital, insurance company, or university." My client is the Mayo Clinic. Got the exact same rejection quote for my client The State Of Maine Department Of Public Safety. They're only not recognized by people from Mars. Lol.

Anyway, I believe the point that they wouldn't want to lose all those iPad sales is probably valid. Either way it will end up ok, it always does with Apple. Sometimes they just make it really really difficult.
2015-1-14
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mhaislet
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Guess were all in with I pads till this pops...
2015-1-14
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rwt0227
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I have the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5" and it JUST BARELY squeezes into the tablet/phone mount on the controller (again, VERY TIGHT) but it does hold it quite well and looks great. Oh yah, and Google makes enabling "developer mode" with "usb debugging" super easy.

Another reason not to buy Apple crap.
2015-1-14
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jwight
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wolftj@mindspri Posted at 2015-1-15 06:39
The point was jwight that you and I both know what is written in the Apple Review Guidelines is subj ...

" lose all those iPad sales is probably valid. "

Do you have any idea how many iPads Apple sells per quarter? The amount of iPads sold purely to Inspire-1 users wouldn't even register.

The predictable "evil Apple" responses are not useful. I've stated what I know to be the facts of the situation. I think it would be _great_ if a DJI rep. responded.
2015-1-14
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leostrat_54
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Hmm.....even just 10,000 iPads at $500 each is $5 million dollars. NO company on earth would intentionally walk away from that!
2015-1-14
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dazonic
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Stop stressing. Any hardware related app submitted to the App Store needs to be thoroughly tested by Apple alongside its hardware. It takes time, as with MFi certification. The Enterprise distribution is just a temporary workaround.

It'll be released on the App Store, I guarantee, have patience. MFi takes time, hardware-related app testing takes time. The Inspire 1 has only *just* been released, and Apple only allows top quality, bug-free apps, which is why the App Store dominates.
2015-1-15
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AnticipateMedia
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dazonic@me.com Posted at 2015-1-16 11:15
Stop stressing. Any hardware related app submitted to the App Store needs to be thoroughly tested by ...

Aaaand it's gone. No longer available for download and the inspire page no longer references an IOS download. Apple must have pulled it (though the app still runs.)
2015-1-15
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dazonic
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Bound to happen when someone posts an ad-hoc app link to Twitter. Like others said, the ad-hoc enterprise app channel isn't meant for this purpose. Gonna have to wait until it's approved on App Store I guess.
2015-1-16
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st0gas
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Now when app is not available anymore for ios, jwight do you feel satisfied?! People bought ipads and have no chance to use product. Myself using android, but Apple's politics to restrict, limit are just stupid...
2015-1-16
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dazonic
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It's just the price iOS users pay for a more secure device. Android has installation freedom but also the insane amounts of malware that come with it. Either way, won't be long and the app will be in the App Store.
2015-1-16
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joeztan
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Let's keep it civil please. We don't know the full story so finger pointing is not going to do anything. DJI please get your software certified on the MFi Program so that Inspire and Lightbridge customers on iOS don't leave your products.

https://developer.apple.com/programs/mfi/

I'm not buying another tablet for a drone.
2015-1-16
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dale.kaechler
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When I first read the iOS app they were putting out was not approved by apple I cancelled my order.If and when the DJI iOS app is available from the app store I will reorder. I'm not going  back to any android device.
2015-1-16
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mail
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I received my Inspire last night. I read the list of mobile devices supported, included the iOS devices. This morning I bought an iPad Mini 3 only to find out when I was back home that the iOS App had disappeared from the web page! I am just a little bit pissed off!
2015-1-16
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mail
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Reply from DJI:
15:08:57



soory sir , Apple is reviewing our APP approximately 1 to several weeks to solve
2015-1-16
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piotr.pawlowski
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AnticipateMedia Posted at 2015-1-16 15:42
Aaaand it's gone. No longer available for download and the inspire page no longer references an IO ...

My app is not working any longer :-( grounded for a weekend, Thank you dji.
2015-1-16
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octovisions
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jwight Posted at 2015-1-14 15:26
Blame DJI - _not_ Apple.

DJI is playing fast and loose with their relationship with both Apple an ...

you are a knob if apple have pulled the plug it is all your fault just couldn't keep your mouth shut wanker
2015-1-16
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jwight
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octovisions Posted at 2015-1-17 04:10
you are a knob if apple have pulled the plug it is all your fault just couldn't keep your mouth sh ...

"you are a knob if apple have pulled the plug it is all your fault just couldn't keep your mouth shut wanker"

Way to keep it civilised. Blaming the messenger. So mature.

Do you really think Apple patrols these forums? Of course not. DJI made a big press-release and had a big presence at CES showing off their new toys. Again blame DJI.
2015-1-16
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travissrt
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This is the one time that I'm actually really happy I got an Android product.  I have been a die hard apple user since I got my first gen iPhone the year of the release.  I got an Android tablet by chance as AT&T had an awesome deal on one with a cellular connection.  I hate it for those of you who are innocent victims in this situation and hope you have an alternate device that you can use until this is sorted.  I'm frustrated as I don't want to fly until I have prop locks in place and read that the firmware issues seem to be sorted out.
2015-1-16
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