Enlarge /. The front of the 2019 iPad Air.
Earlier this week, Apple app developers announced a revised set of guidelines for reviewing the App Store – the rules by which Apple curates its app stores for iOS / iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS.
Among other things, the revised rules extend the definition of a spam app, make it clear that developers can use push notifications to serve ads to users (provided users specifically choose to do so), and restrict the delivery of certain types of apps to trusted ones Organizations in regulated or sensitive industries.
The most controversial of these changes was the clear statement that developers can push ads to users. In the past, Apple’s policies stipulated that push notifications "should not be used for advertising, promotional, direct marketing, or sending sensitive personal or confidential information." Now the guidelines state:
Push notifications must not be required for the app to work and must not be used to send confidential personal or confidential information. Push notifications should not be used for advertising or direct marketing purposes unless customers have specifically chosen to receive them using the consent language shown in your app's user interface and you offer a method in your app that a user can use can refuse to receive such messages.
Pixel Envy's Nick Heer noted that Apple has not yet enforced the original language. So this seems to be a surrender to what some developers have been doing for some time, possibly in response to difficulties in consistently monitoring this. Heer also points out that there is currently no ready-made way for developers to sort between notification types. Therefore, the language "You provide a method in your app that a user can use to refuse to receive such messages" can still limit some of this behavior.
Developers would have to develop their own methods to distinguish between ad notifications and others. Some will likely simply explain to users that ads are part of the push notification business and give users the option to completely decline notifications with this disclaimer. Others find it too difficult to develop a solution to differentiate between types of messages, so they simply stop showing ads through notifications. Others will make additional efforts to continue to serve ads as before, without risking users disabling notifications altogether.
Users still have the option to turn off all notifications from an app or simply stop using them if they don't like the behavior.
For other changes, Apple has signaled to developers that all new apps must be submitted using the iOS or iPadOS 13 SDK as of April 30, and specified April 30 as the deadline for implementing Apple’s login into apps that already offer other universal registrations. at your service – something Apple had warned of came many months ago. The review guidelines state that developers, when responding to reviews on the App Store, must treat users with respect, that fortune telling or dating apps are rejected "unless they provide a unique, high quality experience" and that developers do so may no longer use custom requests or suggestions that users review the app and "use the provided API" instead.
Another notable development is the clarification that "apps that provide services in highly regulated areas (such as banking and financial services, healthcare and air travel) or require sensitive user information should be submitted by a legal entity that provides the services, and not from a single developer. "
In similar news, CNBC has spoken to app developers who claim Apple rejects some corona virus-related apps that are not from trusted organizations, such as hospitals or governments, to prevent the proliferation of apps that could spread misinformation. CNBC cited four developers and found that some of the rejected apps "used public data from reliable sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to create dashboards or live maps". However, Apple may have decided that only authorizing selected authoritative sources is the only way to fully combat misinformation. (The Google Play Store is currently deliberately not showing any results for the search for "Coronavirus" or "COVID-19".)
Platform companies have recently fought snake oil and misinformation about the corona virus and related topics. For example, Amazon has attempted to ban products that claim to cure COVID-19, and information platforms have attempted to stop the spread of false, potentially panic-causing, or bad information that threatens consumer health. However, Apple’s measures have helped some developers to remain frustrated with the transparency and consistency of curation in the App Store.
Apple has made the full review guidelines for the App Store available on its developer website.