App Store Confusion Necessitates API Changes

The museum is well represented in the Apple App Store with not one, but two applications. The first was released in May 2009 by Adam Shackelford, an independent developer, who used our API to create the Brooklyn Museum Mobile Collection app.  More recently, we released our own app under the name Brooklyn Museum Mobile.  Confused?  I’ll never forget standing in the gallery with a visitor as she tried to navigate the App Store to download Brooklyn Museum Mobile, only to be flummoxed when faced with this conundrum:

App Store Screenshot

Results from the App Store when searching "Brooklyn Museum." The two apps are not distinct enough and confusion ensues.

We are pretty thrilled that our API has been used to create such a public-facing use and hope that this innovation continues, but we also needed to make some changes to our API terms to help eliminate possible confusion in the App Store.  These changes are especially important now because we’ve seen other developers requesting keys to create their own apps with our content, so it’s likely that we’ll eventually have even more choice in the App Store for our visitors.

Tweet about API Terms

Interestingly, this tweet came up just as we were making the API changes.

Recent changes to our API terms now state our name, likeness and logo can’t be used without prior permission and there are a few other app-specific disclaimers that we require such as ensuring apps developed with our content are distributed free and without any in-app advertising.  It should be noted that even though this wasn’t explicitly stated in the terms prior, every developer that has worked with our API and wanted to use our logo has specifically asked our permission and, in the case of Brooklyn Museum Mobile Collection, Adam had conscientiously worked with us to both name and brand the app in a way that worked for all of us.  However, now that time has passed and there are more apps in the store and, likely, more apps on the way – we are making a formal change.

So, what now?  These changes will help us moving forward, but what do we do about the two existing apps in the store?  We’ve been talking with Adam and are privileged that he’s been so open to the problems we’ve been experiencing and open to making adjustments.  As it turns out, he’s been working on a new and improved version of the app that will contain both new features and fix crashing in iOS4.  In addition, he’s moved from Iconoclash to Caravan Interactive and was looking for a way to move the app from his old company account to the new one, which we hear from Apple can’t be done.   Given all of this, it seemed like the best answer was to pull the existing Brooklyn Museum Mobile Collection from the store under Iconoclash and release the new and improved version with different branding under Caravan in the coming months.