Apple updates App Store guidelines 2020
As autumn approaches, the releases of iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur are also approaching. With these new versions, come new functions such as widgets and App Clips. But before developers release apps that use these features, they need to know what the standards are.
Apple has updated the App Store guidelines to clarify how the new features can and cannot be used, as well as to make minor changes to existing rules. You can read the full App Store Review Guideline here . For the most part, it will interest developers and will not make much sense to ordinary users.
In recent times, Apple has been the focus of criticism for its policy of internal purchases of apps, video game streaming and other strong controls of the app experience. The new guidelines clarify these standards a bit, though certainly not enough to satisfy frustrated developers.
No advertising in the widgets or App Clips
First of all, if you are concerned that some malicious actors are going to abuse the new iOS 14 widgets and App Clips, you should know that Apple is on your side. The company specifies that these cannot have advertising and must have functions related to the main app. That should prevent developers from making apps that only populate your Home screen with ads.
Developers can now create individual apps to accompany their paid web services, such as the Hey mail app or the WordPress CMS and web hosting . But apps cannot include any type of payment beyond the internal payments of the app and cannot even mention that their service can be purchased outside the app.
Apps that offer personal interactions (like a fitness workout or class) can use their own payment system instead of Apple’s. But Apple specifies that they have to be one-to-one interactions, the rest must use the internal payment system of the Apple app. Thus, if you offer your math classes to a person, you can charge them however you want. If you offer them to three people at the same time, you must use the Apple method and give them a commission of 30%.
Facebook was working on a feature that would allow its users to sell personal services of this type, but it got into trouble with Apple by saying that Apple would take 30% of what you pay the seller. This new rule does not solve it, since many personal services will have to continue using the internal payment method (and give 30%) and the apps will no longer be able to communicate this to their users.
Video game streaming, although not really
It might seem that the new regulation allows video game streaming services like Google Stadia or Microsoft xCloud, but there are so many restrictions that no service could work on iPhone or iPad.
While streaming video games in the cloud is allowed, each game must have its own listing with the download icon and the Start screen icon, as well as adhere to all parental controls (Screen Time) rules, permissions such as microphone access, score, etc. They must also use Apple’s internal payment method and cannot redirect you to their websites or other apps to make payments.
Streaming services can have an app with their entire catalog to find games, but this must redirect them to the list of individual games in the App Store, where they can download them one by one.
Neither Google Stadia nor Microsoft xCloud can work with such restrictions. While Google has declined to comment, Microsoft sent the following statement to CNET :
“It is still a bad experience for consumers. The gamers want to start playing a game from a catalog and a single app, as they do with movies and songs, and not be forced to download 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud. We are committed to putting players at the center of everything we do, and providing them with a good experience is our main mission. “
Although it is good that Apple clarifies some points about how developers should make their apps, including that new functions such as widgets and App Clips are not abused, the general relationship between Apple and developers does not seem to change with these new regulations.
Apple often says that it offers the same standards for all developers, and while this is technically true, these standards continue to divide and subdivide apps into different categories with different standards.
These latest updates don’t change it at all. “Reading” apps can do things that other apps cannot, some payments can be made through Apple while others can use their own payment systems, and streaming game services are more limited than video services in streaming , for example.
There is certainly nothing new that addresses the major disputes central to the war between Epic Games and Apple .