Apple Inc. has updated its App Store Review Guidelines. The revised set clearly spells out Apple’s instructions, expectations, and requirements from app developers.
In an attempt to address the rising concerns about user privacy, and quell the controversies, Apple has outlined a number of new changes to its App Store Review Guidelines. The text includes the requirement that developers request user opt-in to track users with IDFA (ID for advertisers) device identifiers. Incidentally, Facebook is attempting to fight this policy indirectly.
Apple revises guidelines before releasing iOS 14.5 to iPhone users:
The iOS security prompt warning Apple iPhone users about tracking across apps and websites will reportedly arrive with iOS 14.5 in the “early spring”. Incidentally, Apple has dedicated an entire page for the IDFA (ID for Advertisers) device identifiers.
Moreover, Apple has special developer APIs, called the App Tracking Transparency APIs. These will manage the specific ‘IDFA request for tracking’ prompts. It is clear that Apple doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.
Apple have distributed their latest updates made to the App Store Review Guidelines, which we started receiving this morning. Most of these updates do not effect the apps in general except for the most noticeable one related to tracking. Here’s what to look our for #AppDevelopers
— Vioside (@vioside) February 2, 2021
Among the revised set of instructions, is a more explicit requirement about data that developers will seek from iPhone app users. Apple is asking app developers to submit a detailed, accurate privacy sheet with app submissions. Moreover, developers must maintain and update app descriptions, screenshots, privacy info, and so on along with any “new versions” of the app.
It seems Apple has listened to privacy advocates. There have been a few reports about developers not being completely upfront about the data their apps collect. In other words, a few claim that some privacy sheets that accompany apps in the App Store since the launch of iOS 14 are not accurate.
Apple also outlines the products and services that shouldn’t be on the Apple App Store:
Right before the iOS 14.5 update hits iPhone users, Apple is clearly spelling out its expectations from app developers. And the new set of instructions go beyond privacy.
Apple has “clarified the prohibition of promoting certain substances.” The guidelines remind developers that their apps should not “encourage consumption” of tobacco and vape products, illegal drugs, or “excessive amounts of alcohol.”
— iOS LibHunt (@iOSLibHunt) February 2, 2021
Additionally, “facilitating the sale of” marijuana or tobacco is strictly prohibited. Simply put, only those apps that are owned by licensed pharmacies can sell controlled or regulated substances.
Another notable inclusion in the new guidelines is the insistence on using Apple’s payment system. Apple has clearly mentioned that gift cards, certificates, vouchers, coupons, and developer tips must pass through its payment mechanism.
Apple Shares Updated App Store Review Guidelines for App Tracking Transparency https://t.co/ArFESKgww4
— C0nn0iss3urs is @ 🏠Office #StayHome #StaySafe (@C0nn0iss3urs) February 2, 2021
Interestingly, remotely-hosted, cloud-gaming service providers like Google and Microsoft are attempting to circumvent Apple’s stringent policies. Apple allows game streaming services as long as providers list each game as its own title on the App Store for review. Moreover, the company insists on payments through its own mechanism.
Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud game streaming services are currently accessible through a simple web-browser. Hence, it could be difficult for Apple to enforce its policies.