The challenges of a restricted developer

In Team Erica, we have been designing an iOS application that allows Erica to communicate with her desired audience in around three taps on her home screen. Our vision of the app and its layout has been simple to deploy within XCode, the only application that Apple authorizes for software developers to build applications across the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch product lines.

Nonetheless, in implementing the actual functionality of our application, we have encountered a few hurdles. Compared to other mobile platforms such as Google Android, Apple iOS places strict limits in certain freedoms apps developed by third parties exercise. One specific instance of this is in sending emails. We intended that our application be able to programmatically send emails in the background to certain contacts after a simple button press. However, Apple does not allow app developers to access the user’s email credentials and send an email message without an explicit preloaded message appearing for the user to confirm. Since the confirmation button is very small, we wanted to avoid having this screen. Thankfully, after some web searching, we were able to find a workaround by implementing the ‘MailCore’ API that is able to programmatically send emails by directly accessing email servers, bypassing Apple’s Mail framework.

For sending text messages, we encountered a similar challenge, solved by implementing the Twilio API text messaging service. As opposed to MailCore, Twilio, however, is not free. In an average case, it costs around 50 cents per month for a single person to use the service. As a team we have been debating who would assume this cost: Erica or someone else? Organizations place restrictions on the freedoms third party developers can exercise in their apps to conserver user’s privacy. Should assistive technology applications be the exception?


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