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Apple bars iPhone 6, 6 Plus wait time tool from App Store

A new app called MiQueue aimed to use crowdsourcing to let anyone see the wait times at all Apple stores for the new iPhones. But Apple said no go.

Apple has long boasted that there's an app for just about everything. The company even trademarked the phrase.

But not when it comes to finding an app to locate the shortest line to buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

Apple has barred from its App Store the handicraft of a San Francisco startup called Miego Apps that crowdsourced the dissemination of iPhone 6 line wait times so that people could choose where to go to buy Apple's latest smart phone, according to the developer.

The app, called MiQueue, was designed to work by letting anyone waiting in line at an Apple Store share the wait time for buying an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. That information would then be fed to other MiQueue users.

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Apple has barred from its App Store an app called MiQueue that would have allowed users to see wait times to buy the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus at any Apple Store. Miego Apps

Miego had begun work on MiQueue in late July and had submitted the app for review by Apple on Sept. 2, Miego Apps CEO Michael Harmell said. When he hadn't heard about the app's status as the iPhone launch got closer, he began trying to expedite a decision and only got final word Tuesday from Apple during a phone call he said lasted about 5 minutes. Harmell added that he was told Apple management had reviewed MiQueue and directed the review department to reject the app.

Harmell said Apple informed him that it had decided not to accept MiQueue into the App Store. "They said their concerns were that it wasn't being represented by Apple themselves," he told CNET, "and that their concern was potential misreads of wait times."

Apple did not respond to a CNET request for comment.

Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus -- along with its hotly anticipated Apple Watch and Apple Pay -- at its high-profile event in Cupertino, Calif., on Sept. 9. The iPhone 6 has the potential to be the biggest launch in Apple's 38-year history, with the latest design providing two larger-screen models, slimmer and lighter bodies and Apple pay, the company's new mobile-payment system. Apple reportedly has asked manufacturing partners to produce about 70 million to 80 million units of its larger screen iPhones by December 30, which is about 30 percent to 40 percent more iPhones than it ordered for its initial run of last year's iPhone 5S and 5C.

Those advances have already led more than 4 million people to pre-order the new phones, many of whom had to brave Apple's balky order system. But anyone else stopping by an Apple Store on Friday will no doubt have to stand in line for the chance to buy one. The iPhone 6 starts at $199, while the 6 Plus costs $299 and up.

Could it be that the company wants would-be iPhone buyers to use its own digital tool? According to 9to5Mac, Apple may be planning a digital line system designed to give buyers up-to-date information about iPhone 6 and 6 Plus availability. Users of the tool would get a digital reservation card through a text message or email, allowing them to return anytime during the day to make their purchase. In the past, Apple has handed out paper cards with specific device configurations so buyers didn't have to wait in line for hours without knowing if the model they wanted was still in stock.

On the surface, an app designed to provide a list of stores and their wait times might have proved handy for people looking to save time when buying a new iPhone. But its utility was based on other people also using the app. Harmell was hoping MiQueue would be in the App Store ahead of Friday's launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so that people using it would gather enough meaningful wait time data about most Apple Stores.

Harmell based his confidence largely on Miego's experience with MiFlight, an app that lets people share and learn wait times at airport security lines. Harmell said adoption of that app was quick and Miego's tools require only a few people sharing information about queue times to be useful to others.

He had anticipated even faster adoption of MiQueue given the intense interest in Apple's new phones, but argued that the app would be valuable even with modest usage. "It only takes one per store," Harmell said. "Five per store, tops. One at the beginning [of the line], on in the middle, and one at the end, maybe."

MiQueue was designed to let users see wait times at any Apple Store within 100 miles of their location. That, of course, would be more useful for people in areas like California or the Northeast, where there are many stores in relatively small areas.

MiQueue wasn't the first tool aiming to help people find out line lengths. An app called Queue Time also uses a crowdsourced system to let people share wait times in any line they might be in. Another, QLess, is built to let people queue up electronically, claiming a spot in line from their phone. But no other existing app seems built specifically for would-be iPhone buyers. Miego was hoping its success with MiFlight would inspire confidence in its technology -- and as a result, large numbers of downloads.

Harmell said Apple told him the company would have approved MiQueue if it had been geared toward generic retail launch lines. Indeed, he added, Miego hopes to use the app in exactly that way in the future. It also hopes that the technology may someday be white-labeled, allowing anyone from theme parks to electronics stores to include the wait-time feature in their own apps.

That may well happen. But this much is clear: No one will be using MiQueue this Friday.

CNET's Shara Tibken also contributed to this article.