Apple won’t approve apps that let you weigh things on your iPhone 6s using 3D Touch

BY Killian Bell

Published 28 Oct 2015

Gravity app for weighing on iPhone 6s

The 3D Touch display packed into your iPhone 6s is so good at measuring pressure that it can actually be used to weigh small objects — but Apple won’t allow it. The company is currently rejecting iPhone 6s apps that have this purpose, and it’s not totally clear why.

In a post on Medium, iOS developer Ryan McLeod reveals that Apple rejected a digital scale app he built with friends that allows users to weigh things on their iPhone’s display. McLeod used “creative workarounds” to try to sidestep Apple’s restrictions, but has little success.

Developing their app wasn’t easy, McLeod reveals. Apple’s 3D Touch API measures force on a custom scale going from 0.00 to the “maximum possible force,” with 1.00 being the average touch. McLeod got around this by calibrating his app using a nickel, something everyone (in the U.S.) could obtain.

Once calibrated, McLeod and his team had to overcome the next hurdle. “We needed an object that was conductive, had finger-like capacitance, formed a single finger-like touch point, was a household item, and could hold items to be weighed,” McLeod writes.

They settled on a spoon. Users could place objects on the spoon, then put that on top of the iPhone to measure it. The team discovered that the iPhone was capable of weighing objects up to 385 grams, and although it wasn’t totally accurate, it was better than nothing at all.

But after overcoming all of these problems, McLeod found that his app, Gravity, was rejected by Apple “for having a misleading description.” McLeod tried to get around this by resubmitting the app with a video (below) that proved Gravity did as described.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough for Apple, which called McLeod and told him that “he concept of a scale app was not appropriate for the App Store,” he says.

It’s not totally clear why this is, and Apple is yet to clarify. It’s possible that the company just doesn’t want people weighing things on their iPhone in case they break them, or it knows that the iPhone just isn’t an accurate scale, and it doesn’t want to cause confusion.

The Verge suggests that it could be because Apple “thinks such an app would be used for weighing drugs,” though that seems slightly absurd — especially when you consider all the weed-related apps available in the App Store now.

“We have a strong respect for the subjective process Apple uses to maintain a selection of high quality apps,” writes McLeod on Medium. “But [we] do hope for a day when Gravity can be one of the hand-picked, who-knew-a-phone-could-do-that-apps anyone can download on the App Store and have in their pocket.”

And so do we!