R.I.P. Imagewind for Windows Phone [Update - It's gone]

R.I.P. Imagewind for WP7: 3/16 - 3/30

After being in the Windows Phone marketplace for just two weeks, I am very sad to say that Imagewind for Windows Phone is going to be pulled from the marketplace tomorrow. If you are reading this on March 30th, then you can act quick and grab it before it is gone.

I had a concern all along that Imagewind might not make it through marketplace approval, which is why I submitted a simple beta version of it in late February to test the waters. On March 3rd that version of Imagewind was approved, and I immediately doubled-down and invested more time into making Imagewind hot. After two straight weeks of late nights, and spending a few hundred bucks on design and website creation, Imagewind was re-submitted and approved on March 16th.

Since its release Imagewind has been doing great in the marketplace with 17 reviews and an average rating of 4 1/2 stars in just two weeks. In fact, just today Imagewind broke over 1 million images displayed across all Windows Phone users.

About 10 days ago I submitted an update to Imagewind which added pinch/zoom support and search abilities. After 10 days of no results from the marketplace approval team, I started to worry that maybe the search ability was pushing the boundaries a bit too far - I didn't however expect to get a notice this afternoon that the app was going to be pulled from the marketplace altogether:

Imagewind - app unpublish request
[..] While the images shown are dynamic, per your app’s disclaimer, a portion of the images’ content is too graphic for the app to be permissible in Marketplace. In order to be permissible, there would need to be a content filter before surfacing images since users are not querying a specific type of image and are rather pushed to them.

Given this, we ask that you unpublish your app within one business day until you are able to modify your application to comply with the certification guidelines.[..]

Thank you for your understanding in the matter, and we will hope to see an updated version soon.

Windows Phone Marketplace Policy team

Since Imagewind is entirely based on live unfiltered images from Twitter, there is no chance of me ever being able to comply with the policy team's request short of hiring a team to monitor and filter images 24/7. This rejection draws the line in the sand for what is and isn't allowed on Windows Phone, and it paints a distinct difference between what is allowed in the iPhone app store and the WP7 marketplace.

The screen above shows a common warning in the app store for iOS devices. Anytime an app brings in data from the web which could contain questionable content, you have to approve this warning. It is a bit ridiculous in that all Twitter clients, the Opera web browser, and even Wikipedia apps all have to show this warning - because they could show questionable content.

The Windows Phone marketplace doesn't have a warning like this yet, so I created my own shown every time Imagewind launches:

Unfortunately my warning won't cut it, and the marketplace won't currently allow an app like mine. The wording in the marketplace notice seems to suggest that it's not a problem that questionable content can be displayed, but that the questionable content is displayed without the user explicitly requesting said questionable content ("there would need to be a content filter before surfacing images since users are not querying a specific type of image and are rather pushed to them."). I am hopeful to work out some way to get Imagewind back into the marketplace, but I have little hope currently.

It is worth noting that the iOS marketplace would in fact allow Imagewind, and has another similar app already called Pingwire (which has apparently been covered by CNET, BBC, and The New York Times). Unfortunately as of now, such apps aren't within Windows Phone marketplace guidelines.

You can find the XAP for Imagewind v1.1 attached. If you are a developer and can side-load apps please continue to enjoy it. Hopefully the ads served up by continued usage can help me recoup my investment which is now all for naught.

It should be noted that I'm not totally ticked. I understood in the beginning it might be rejected for just these reasons. My biggest complaint is that it was approved twice before, and it is only now being rejected (and removed) after adding new features via an update. Had it been rejected on the beta run in early March I would've cut my losses then - that's why I submitted such an early version.

Please leave a comment on your thoughts regarding this policy. Obviously there is still room for the Windows Phone marketplace to improve, and maybe this can be one place to push for some changes.

[Update 3/31/2011 1:14pm EST]
I emailed back and asked for an extended grace period while the policy team and Brandon Watson talked about the app being removed. I am hopeful something good will come out of their discussions - like a way to get Imagewind back into the marketplace. Until I hear back from them Imagewind will stay available. Stay tuned.

[Update 4/1/2011 11:45 EST]
Unfortunately I got notice tonight that after further review the marketplace policy team are sticking with the decision to remove Imagewind from the marketplace. I only got about 60 minutes of notice to remove it myself, which of course happened at 7pm EST on a Friday, so it was removed for me, which means all 25 5-star average reviews are now gone forever. I guess if the app won't see the light of day in the marketplace then that doesn't matter much anyways. For what it is worth, I still haven't been contacted by Brandon Watson, so I don't really have any more insight as to if I have any further options here. My best bet now is that until marketplace regulations change, Imagewind won't be allowed in the marketplace. Perhaps most disappointing is that it could have been released in the iOS or Android marketplaces - but for now it can't be in the WP7 marketplace.

R.I.P. Imagewind for WP7

I guess for now Imagewind will continue to reside at imagewind.net in an online version, and folks who can side-load apps can continue to grab the .xap file attached to this post (and eventually at imagewind.net/wp7). I'm hoping that despite this rejection, Imagewind for WP7 will continue to thrive with folks who grabbed it before it was removed, and from folks willing to side load it. I guess now I'll start the journey of getting Imagewind on other mobile devices.

ImageWindApp.xap478.29 KB


This is the stuff that pisses me off! I like violent games! I perfer mature like HALO to Teen games. When you shot someone they are suppose to bleed.

You need a credit card on file for the downloads give me a break.

Should IE be banned? You can search all the nude pic you want on there!

Feel sorry for you man that is depressing

I'll continue to use imagewind, I like the app although I prob won't use it as much at night... people tend to post a little more nudity then. But as an adult, I have that choice, too bad the WP7 Marketplace doesn't allow for it yet.

It's a great way to kill time, an interesting look at what people are talking about (for example, craploads of Bieber pics), and also a great way to find funny pics.

Maybe Marketplace could allow the app if it was pay only, no free version? So buying the app also agrees to the content?

Anyway, it's a great app (grabbed the xap in case I have to wipe the phone ever) and I hope you recover some of the cost of all your time and effort.

What a phenomenally short sighted decision in what I can only assume is an unbelievably mismanaged process. The WP7 team has definitely mishandled the whole certification process up so far. And it's time for that to change.

The Windows Phone 7 application certification process is abysmal and has been such for the past few months. The inconsistency of applying certification guidelines for the same app is causing the submission process to be perceived as a joke. I have yet to meet the WP7 developer who has not been burned by the WP7 app submission process. The overwhelming sentiment around the enforcement of the certification guidelines is that it's a not-so-well-calculated bet. Apps either get approved or they don't; nothing to do with certification guidelines. Apps previously approved are being rejected in simple patches, apps approved don't necessarily meet the guidelines and now apps previously approved are being yanked down with 24 hours notice to comply?!

This has on for long enough. Developers have been patient and understanding to the difficulties of setting up an application submission review process. Almost six months after the U.S. launch Microsoft's WP7 apps approval process has gotten worse, not better. We're removing live apps now? Really?

Microsoft, are you listening to us? Remember that without your trusty developers WP7 doesn't have apps. And WP7 without apps is a KIN. And if you kick developers long enough, WP7 will end up like KIN.

-- Justin Angel

Fantastic app. I had never heard of it til now. Really cool idea and works well. I just watched it for a couple minutes and saw nothing objectionable even pop up. While twitter isn't curated, doesn't it have a no porn policy? Is that not good enough for your app? Stupid, stupid decision on Microsoft's part. Hopefully this picks up some publicity and they reverse the decision.

The situation sucks in general and as you said the suckiest part is that you've been approved twice before. That said, what if instead of warning you include a button that says "search for images (including pornographic, violent, etc.)" or something like that? That should constitute a user explicitly "querying a specific type of image".

You're very close, don't quit now.

It sucks that they didn't catch it early on, that would have been nice. At least then you could have not invested your time or tweaked it to comply. Since they caught it after the fact, I hope that you decide to choose the later.

In it's current form, I agree with the marketplace that ImageWind needs to come down. I was showing the app to my wife during lunch and she had 6 porn images pushed to her within 2 minutes after she started it up. My kids pick up my phone all the time and flip through my apps, so this app scares me. I could see many teens getting a windows smart phone and wanting a twitter photo app, and yet not expecting to be "bombarded" with anonymous/random pornography.

I got some ideas for you on modifying and tweaking your appt. Admittedly, many of my ideas are just variations on what you've already done. They're different, yet very similar. We'll have to sync up and talk about these at MIX. What you have is a fabulous idea that has a TON of potential. This has legs and will be HUGE. Don't give up on it. If I were you I'd remove the download link to the xap immediately. You're giving away your IP, and like I said, you're not far from this app being approved and really, really, really good. That's what the startup in me thinks.

Don't get discouraged and don't give up on WP7. One of James Cameron's first films was Piranha 2, and that thing was horrible (btw, I'm not equating ImageWind to Piranha 2, ImageWind is tons better). It wasn't until over 25 years later before he finally made Avatar. Each movie in between those two was moving him one step closer to Avatar. You've got a sweet portfolio of WP7 apps and you've got a ton of experience in what works on this platform. I hope to see you keep turning out these great apps.

Can't understand it... TwitPic, one of the source of the pictures, has rules/policies regarding the pictures people upload, so if there is 'unconfortable' content, it should be a responsability of who posts it and TwitPic. Here's an extract of their terms of service:

"TwitPic reserves the right to remove any image for any reason whatsoever. Specifically, any image uploaded that is pornographic or offensive in nature (including nudity, violence, sexual acts, or sexually provocative images.), infringes upon copyrights not held by the uploader, is illegal or violates any laws, will be immediately deleted and the IP address of the uploaded reported to authorities. Violating these terms will result in termination of your ability to upload further images. We reserve the right to ban any individual uploader or website domain from using our services for any reason."

If Imagewinds belonged to TwitPic, a 'Report' option to report offensive pictures would be natural, but in a 3rd party app like yours, it would be up to you to provide it or not.

Not sure about other image sources policies.

all apps which display ads require owner_identity permissions. the information shown to the user says that this is not information to track specifically who you are, but rather a unique id for your phone. my best guess is that the information is used to track the number of unique users who are seeing ads.

This is just one of those fringe scenarios the marketplace is just going to have to buck up and deal with.

They already stated that the reason is because the user is not given a choice to accept this, but by adding the warning when starting the app you are doing exactly that.
Most websites (especially game ones) have exactly the same measure by asking for your age before displaying content (the fact they can not verify that though just begs the question why bother)

Here's hoping Brandon Watson can intervene here and get the policy updated and this is not just another case of two reviewers taking polar decisions based on what their own interpretation of a policy is (god know that seems to happen all to often)

Granted with the amount of apps going through submissions, surely they could implement an internal policy of putting these kinds of queries to an internal group before just saying pull it. XBOX Live has a similar process before Banning or actioning potential abusers of the service (thanks to the insight at PAX).

So come on marketplace, welcome to the 21st Century!

I agree with the marketplace policy, the last thing I would want is explicit images on my phone.

This would be a great opportunity for communication with the marketplace. If you thought your app would be pulled, it would have saved time and effort if you could have simply asked, "Is this going to be a problem?" You'd get a definitive Yes or No. If No, no time invested and if Yes you have a place to say something if they try to pull the app later.

I was sorry to hear about your problem. And I think it is a cool idea.

However, I must say, I just loaded your web version to try it out, and in the very first set of images it displayed there was a really offensive porn image.

I'm not normally squeamish, and I think I am very tolerant, but there is no way I could bring myself to load it again after that experience.

I wonder if the same sort of thing happened to your reviewer in the marketplace.

A couple of suggestions:
1) Make the about page have clickable Twitter links?
2) Links to a proper feedback channel would be cool. Links to the rating directly would be nice as well though that is now questionable since we have no clue if this would be allowed back.
3) I'm not sure of the marketplace guidelines but I don't believe you've updated the WMAppManifest version number? If the marketplace has been updated since, that would probably explain why it seems to perpetually be
4) I'd assume some of the options from the web version would eventually find their way here. It'd be nice that if you clicked on an image's detail in the web version it went to TwitPic, etc. but that could've been my user error.

Now as far as the app pull goes, that really does suck but I do get their point. Perhaps the disclaimer needs to be bigger and use a messagebox? The apple prompt seems more "in your face" whereas the normal disclaimer could be overlooked I suppose. If you could tie into the various pic streams report as inappropriate that would definitely help. It'd also be cool if their API had kind of a rating level where you could say "Don't allow anything questionable over level myah" but that's like herding cats I bet.

If you used an intermediary service of some sort you could tackle the content but it's nuking an ant really. On one hand I thought "Well what if you just made a rating system where other users pushed down that content?" but you're stuck with the same infrastructure problem as just flat out filtering the content yourself. It's not an easy problem and it sucks. I do hope you can find some resolution though and I do agree with Kelly White in that you have an awesome app here. Definitely don't give up on it even if you have to put it on the back burner. Hell my single app IRC client will only make it to the marketplace when MS gives me sockets officially yet I'll still be plugging away at it until that day comes. You have a much easier battle there though I won't deny it is still a rough one.

It's weird what I'm seeing. Roger says he has a warning stating you may see explicit images and people run the app anyway and then say that they agree that it shouldn't be on Marketplace because they were shocked to see explicit images.

Really? Do you think he was lying? Do you come out of PG-13 movie and yell at the theater owner for showing a movie with profanity, violence, and yes, even some nudity? Do you complain about the sex scenes in R-Rated movies?

This comment got me the most:

I agree with the marketplace policy, the last thing I would want is explicit images on my phone.

Then don't download the app!!! For that matter, make sure you don't EVER use the browser because EVERY image you saw is not only viewable from the browser, but also via Twitter apps as well!

The only thing I would do different (in hindsight) if I were him is have a specific button that says, "I acknowledge that I am searching for images posted on Twitter and explicit images are likely to be included, even though such images violate the Terms of Service of the image hosts."

I doubt it would help, but it's more specific and does point out that in spite of what the reviewer alleges, you are searching for specific images and the filter you're using is "posted via twitter".

IMHO it is this simple. It warns you that objectionable material may come up. If that bothers you don't install it or keep it on your device. Why have a nanny state? Let people decide what is objectionable for themselves. No one forces you to install this app. I think in its current form it is fine (with warning included). A intelligent person would realise the reality of the warning and not keep it running on their device while at work or in a church pew. Foolish people kill people every day by driving recklessly. Please don't take away my right to chose to drive because I MIGHT drive recklessly and kill someone. ... Same premise. Kinda ;)

I feel your pain dude.

I guess the other option is for you to allow users to only query by #tag - I know that's fundamentally not the same app, but you might still get some takers...
Not seeing your code, I don't know but is sounds easy enough to do.

"developers, developers, developers..."

ur wrong developer... I agree with MS..... this app is not right cause my children could take my phone and see whatever pics this app downloads.... so.... you have no point on this, sorry


luckily I got to sideload Imagewind, I find it amusing if not that useful... :) It is a nice way to spend a few minutes now and again, though. That said; would it not satisfy the guidelines if you had a "configuration" screen where the user has to choose an option, choices are "Feed all Twitter images" and "Feed no Twitter images" with the latter being the default? I know, ridiculous, but who knows...



Hi. I have tried to download your XAP. But The page I get is all code. Is this intentional? Is there a direct download?
Love your work.

Hi. I have tried to download your XAP. But The page I get is all code. Is this intentional? Is there a direct download?
Love your work.

Does this app not work anymore? I've been using the app ever since it as available and now it seems to just sit and load forever.

Roman - right click the link and 'save as'.. be sure to visit imagewind.net/wp7 for the latest release

Anonymous - Twitter changed some APIs (relative to t.co) which broke imagewind.. both imagewind.net and the WP7 release at imagewind.net/wp7 have been updated in the last few weeks - sorry for the delay