Timed alongside the Worldwide Developer Conference this week, Apple has rolled out a new set of App Store Review guidelines that, somewhat surprisingly, are now easing restrictions around a number of requirements that must be met in order to publish to the App Store. Typically, Apple updates its guidelines to introduce new rules or clarify existing rules for developers by adding more details. But this week’s changes instead remove a handful of rules around app subsets, including lottery apps, apps used for charitable donations, apps that use location, and others.
The changes follow a series of legal challenges and new regulations in select markets over Apple’s control of the App Store, where the company has come under pressure to allow third-party payments and competition has intensified. Both the EU and the US are considering measures to level the playing field on many fronts when it comes to app stores and the fees they charge.
Notably, Apple’s new guidelines remove one of the more nebulous rules about how an app must function in order to be admitted to the App Store.
With the update, Apple removed the requirement (line 4.2.3) that an app must “contain enough content in the binary for the app to work on launch”. While designed to ensure that apps have some sort of minimal functionality and are usable upon installation, Apple has also adopted this rule to block apps that require another app to function or that need to access resources from the Internet first. Why Apple is removing this line now is less clear, but presumably this would now mean that apps can now ask users to download additional resources at launch, as some games already do, and would not be required to be functional before that download completes. . It could potentially pave the way for HTML5-compatible games to return to the App Store after being restricted in 2019.
Combined with two other changes related to lottery apps, it appears that Apple is looking to relax its rules around HTML5 when used in this subset of the app market. The company has now also removed rule 5.3.3 that prevented users from purchasing lottery or raffle tickets or initiate money transfers in an app, and rule 4.7 that had restricted raffles and charitable donations in code not embedded in the binary.
Apple had explained its rationale around using HTML5 in apps in January 2020, saying that apps that dynamically deliver core features and functionality through HTML5 are “best delivered through Safari” — an indication that Apple wanted these kinds of apps from its app. limit Save. The revised guidelines make Apple change its tone a bit, which could have broader implications for the lottery app industry.
Another updated requirement refers to the new WeatherKit developer toolkit, which allows the creation of apps that use Apple’s own weather services. With rule 5.2.5, Apple simply says that apps must meet the attribution requirements listed in WeatherKit’s documentation.
Finally, another line to be dropped (2.5.4) focuses on location data. Apple no longer requires apps that use location background mode to remind users that doing so “can drastically reduce battery life.” This probably has more to do with improvements to the iPhone’s battery capacities over the years, as guidelines still restrict multitasking apps from using the background location to keep the app running.