AnyList explains ten problems with Sign in with Apple; won’t be supporting it


Shopping list and recipe app AnyList has explained in a lengthy blog post no fewer than ten problems with Sign in with Apple.

It says there are five problems for users, and five for developers, and consequently the app will not be supporting the login method …

First, it says there is one common problem with any third-party login, whether it’s Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else.

People don’t remember which login system they used to create their account. (“Hmm, I created this account a couple of years ago. Did I use my email address? Facebook account? Sign in with Apple?”) Simple questions like, “How do I reset my password?” no longer have simple answers and depend on which system you used to create your account, if you can remember. And if you get locked out of your account and used a third-party login system, we may not be able to help you ourselves and will instead have to direct you to another company, with all of the hassles that entails.

But there are some specific problems with Sign in with Apple, it says – like the fact that many Apple IDs use an iCloud email address.

Many of those iCloud email addresses are unused and unchecked, because a customer’s “real” email account is their Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail account. If we try to contact a customer using their iCloud email address, they may never see our message […]

So people would ask for help, we’d reply, and they’d contact us again later, angry that we never replied. Our reply was going to their iCloud email account, but they didn’t see it because they only ever looked at their Gmail account, in the Gmail app.

The Hide My Email feature in Sign in with Apple makes the problem even worse.

If a customer contacts us asking for support, and we need to look up something in their account, typically we can just ask them for the email address on their account. But with “Hide My Email” that wouldn’t be easily possible, because the customer would have to figure out the email address used for their account.

This also makes it difficult or impossible to share lists, as this is usually done by entering their email address.

With the “Hide My Email” option, your spouse or friends obviously won’t know your email address, so when they enter your email address, our systems will believe that you don’t have an account.

On the developer side, it adds complexity and time, and therefore costs.

It’s not enough for us to add Sign in with Apple to our iOS app. We also have to add it to our web app, Mac app, and Android app. (Creating even more complexity, Apple does not provide any real solution for supporting Sign in with Apple on Android, see below.) So if we choose to support Sign in with Apple, that means that we have to spend a significant amount of time to get it working everywhere, rather than spending that time improving the core list, recipe, and meal planning functionality of our app.

One of the specific complaints isn’t correct: that Apple doesn’t properly explain how to implement the sign-in on Android. In fact, this is exactly the same as doing it on the web.

But most of the arguments – and you can read the rest in the blog post – do make sense.

Apple doesn’t force developers to offer Sign in with Apple, but if an app offers any other third-party registration, then it must offer Apple’s version too. Apple also ‘suggests’ in its guidelines that its sign-in appears above rival ones. AnyList is addressing this by removing Facebook login, its only other third-party sign-in.

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