Apple’s Revised App Store Review Guidelines: 7 Things in Limelight

You must be aware of the news that Apple recently unveiled the latest iPhone operating system iOS 12 in its WWDC event.

However, what you might not know is that the tech giant also launched small yet significant updates to its App Store Review Guidelines.

In these updates, Apple has made a few amendments in the previous App Store guidelines like the addition of data security section and new rules regarding free trials, multiplatform services, remote mirroring, cryptocurrency, and in-app advertising.

Here we go into detail:

1. Data Security
Following the data breach incidents that happened recently, Apple has introduced a new section that clearly instructs developers to follow strict security measures for proper handling of user data.

Here’s what the guidelines say:

Apps should implement appropriate security measures to ensure proper handling of user information collected pursuant to the Apple Developer Program License Agreement and these Guidelines (see Guideline 5.1 for more information) and prevent its unauthorized use, disclosure, or access by third parties.

2. Free Trails
In this section, Apple details how developers can offer free trials of their apps.

According to the section:

Non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period before presenting a full unlock option by setting up a Non-Consumable IAP item at Price Tier 0 that follows the naming convention: 14-day Trial.

Prior to the start of the trial, your app must clearly identify its duration, the content or services that will no longer be accessible when the trial ends, and any downstream charges the user would need to pay for full functionality. Learn more about managing content access and the duration of the trial period using Receipts and Device Check.

3. Multiplatform Services
Apple has also modified the guidelines related to multiplatform services. The rules are specifically related to apps like Steam Link which was rejected by Apple last month.

Regarding the matter, Apple’s new app store guideline says:

Apps that operate across multiple platforms may allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired elsewhere, provided those items are also available as in-app purchases within the app.

You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase.

4. Copycat Designs
Apple instructs app development companies to come up with their own ideas in this section.

The guidelines state that:

Come up with your own ideas. We know you have them, so make yours come to life. Don’t simply copy the latest popular app on the App Store, or make some minor changes to another app’s name or UI and pass it off as your own. In addition to risking an intellectual property infringement claim, it makes the App Store harder to navigate and just isn’t fair to your fellow developers.

It must be noted that back in December 2017, Apple had announced a change in app store guidelines according to which prohibited the use of commercialised templates or app generation service for app creation. This update is the final nail to the coffin.

5. Remote Mirroring Apps
Another significant change in Apple’s revamped app store review guidelines is related to remote mirroring apps like Steam Link which was rejected by Apple last month. According to the guidelines:

(a) The host device is a personal computer owned by the user, and both the host and client must be connected on a local and LAN-based network.

(b) Any software or services appearing in the client are fully rendered on the screen of the host device, and may not use APIs or platform features beyond what is required to stream the Remote Desktop

(c) All account creation and management must be initiated from the host device.

(d) The UI appearing on the client does not resemble an iOS or App Store view, does not provide a store-like interface, or include the ability to browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user.

For the sake of clarity, transactions taking place within mirrored software do not need to use in-app purchase, provided the transactions are processed on the host device.

6. Cryptocurrency
Apple’s revamped app store review guidelines state that apps can’t mine cryptocurrency in the background. Here are a few other details:

(i) Wallets: Apps may facilitate virtual currency storage, provided they are offered by developers enrolled as an organization.

(ii) Mining: Apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining).

(iii) Exchanges: Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself.

(iv) Initial Coin Offerings: Apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), cryptocurrency futures trading, and other crypto-securities or quasi-securities trading must come from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions and must comply with all applicable law.

(v) Cryptocurrency apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc.

7. In-app advertising
According to Apple’s app store guidelines for in-app advertising state:

Ads displayed in an app must be appropriate for the app’s age rating, allow the user to see all information used to target them for that ad (without requiring the user to leave the app), and may not engage in targeted or behavioral advertising based on sensitive user data such as health/medical data (e.g. from the HealthKit APIs), school and classroom data (e.g. from ClassKit), or from kids (e.g. from apps in the Kids Category), etc.
Interstitial ads or ads that interrupt or block the user experience must clearly indicate that they are an ad, must not manipulate or trick users into tapping into them and must provide easily accessible and visible close/skip buttons large enough for people to easily dismiss the ad.

That’s all in this Apple app store review guidelines update. Now, one thing worth thinking is:

What impact will these new app store review guidelines have on app development?

If our app development experts in Singapore are to be believed, the process of submitting apps to the Apple app store is going to be a little tricky after this update. A few more factors will need to be kept in mind, such as:

  • During app development, the prime focus will not be on features and app appearance alone. Developers will also have to make sure that proper safety measures are being taken.
  • As the new Apple app store guidelines refuse to accept apps that have a theme, functionality, or feature set similar to existing apps – app development teams will have to come with a unique idea every time.
  • As the modification in section 3.1.7 requires the in-app ads to be appropriate for users, developers will have to think carefully while including ads for the app.

However, there will be a major benefit that this Apple app store review guidelines update will have.

Only the quality apps will have a chance to get featured on the App Store. Also, there will be a diversity as each app will differ in terms of feature set, appearance, and functionality. This will ultimately improve the value of the app store.

Anyway, what do you think? Let us know in comments.

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