App Store Guidelines ban police-spotting apps, raises bar on dating apps and more
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App Store Guidelines ban police-spotting apps, raises bar on dating apps and more

Apple this week alerted builders to a unique scrape of App Store Review Guidelines that detail which apps will be accepted or rejected, and what apps are allowed to carry out. The changes to the guidelines impact reviews, push notifications, Sign in with Apple, data sequence and storage, cell gadget management and more, the company says. Some of the more excessive-profile changes include the ability for apps to now exhaust notifications for ads, stricter guidelines for dating and fortune-telling apps and a unique rule that allows Apple to reject apps that assist customers evade law enforcement, among other things.

This latter change to police-spotting apps, surprisingly, didn’t get as distinguished attention as push ads or changes to dating apps — though it’s among the most notable of the unique guidelines.

A old model of the App Store Review Guidelines (considered in a snapshot here from January 2020) stated that apps may handiest display DUI checkpoints that were published by law enforcement agencies, and famend that apps shouldn’t encourage activities adore “below the influence of alcohol driving” or “indecent hasten.” These were reasonable considerations.

The revised rule (part 1.4.4.) now says that Apple will reject apps “mature to commit or attempt to commit crimes of any kind by helping customers evade law enforcement,” in addition to the existing language.

As you may recall, Apple last year purchased into scorching water over its resolution to reject a crowdsourced mapping app, HKmap, that was being mature by Hong Kong professional-democracy protestors to evade police. Initially, the app had been approved, nonetheless was pulled a day after Apple was criticized by Chinese state media who said the app allowed “rioters…to swagger on violent acts.”

The app had allowed customers to crowdsource information adore the location of police, the usage of tear gas and other details about the protests, that have been added to a regularly updated map. In a statement, Apple said it removed the app when it learned it was mature to “target and ambush police.”

Above: Fragment 1.4.4, prior to and after

The unique App Store Review Guidelines now put into writing Apple’s final resolution over this sort of app. Effectively, it bans apps that assist customers evade law enforcement. Arguably, avoiding police isn’t always about wanting to “commit crimes,” as the guidelines state, on the opposite hand. Amnesty International, for example, documented cases of police brutality, including beatings and torture of of us in police detention during the Hong Kong protests. The HKmap may have also allowed customers to bypass police for his or her contain safety.

Apple’s rule, therefore, is vague ample that it tranquil allows the company itself to make the ultimate call over how an app is being mature prior to deciding to reject or ban it.

Other considerable-of-present changes to the guidelines include an update (part 4.5.4) that allows app builders to send marketing messages (aka ads) in their push notifications. Earlier than, these were banned. This change was immediately hit with user outcry, on the opposite hand it may no longer be as bad as it first appears.

Clearly, many apps were already spamming their customers with ads, regardless of the prior ban. Now, they’re being required to get customer consent within their app’s user interface and to present an opt-out mechanism in their app that lets customers turn off the hasten notification ads. This change will at least power reviewers to search for mechanisms and opt-outs in apps offering in-app purchases or that rely on sales to generate revenues.

“Abuse of these services and products may consequence in revocation of your privileges,” Apple also warns.

Another change adds “fortune-telling” and “dating” apps to the list of apps that are belief about spam if they’re no longer providing a “distinctive, excessive-quality” expertise. The relevant part (4.3) warns builders about the app categories that Apple thinks are oversaturated, and where this can be more critical with its reviews.

The guidelines also now include a unique part (5.6.1) that instruct builders on how to reply to App Store reviews, reminding them to “treat customers with admire when responding to their feedback” and no longer include irrelevant information, personal information, spam, and marketing in their messages.

And builders must now exhaust Apple’s contain API to solicit reviews, instead of other mechanisms. This may allow customers to toggle off App Store review prompts across all apps from the iOS settings.

Finally, Apple reminded builders that all apps going forward, including app updates, will want to exhaust the iOS 13 SDK as of April 30, 2020. Apps will want to reinforce the “Sign in with Apple” login/sign-up possibility as of that date, too.