Apple today announced a number of changes to the App Store review guidelines after several major App Store disputes over the past few months. The new guidelines and updates refer to areas such as in-app purchases, streaming game services, and personal loan applications.
Apple says the goal of the new 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 guidelines is to add further transparency on the types of applications required to use Apple’s in-app purchase system. There is a specific clarification regarding person-to-person experiences, something that has been examined as companies move to virtual classrooms and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apple says that if an app allows for the purchase of real-time personal experiences between two people, such as fitness training, medical consultations, or real estate tours, developers can use purchasing methods other than in-app purchase. Apps that offer one-to-few or one-to-many real-time experiences must use in-app purchase, Apple says.
Additionally, in connection with in-app purchases, Reader applications can now offer account creation for free tiers and account management capabilities for existing customers. Free apps that serve as a standalone complement to a paid web-based tool, such as email services and web hosting, should not use in-app purchase as long as there are no in-app purchases .
Streaming games are allowed as long as they adhere to all guidelines – for example, every game update must be reviewed, developers must provide appropriate metadata for research, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. , Internet apps and web browsers are always open to reach all users outside the App Store.
Apple explains that each streamed game must be submitted to the App Store as a single application, so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, and integrates with other iOS features and experiences. Companies can, however, offer a catalog application that includes links to the App Store versions of all games available through their service.
For example, a company can offer 11 applications on the App Store: 10 games and 1 catalog. The catalog application would link to the 10 games available in the service through the App Store, but the games and catalog app must adhere to other App Store guidelines regarding in-app purchase. Apple specifies that game streaming services must offer “users the ability to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase”.
- Each streamed game must be submitted to the App Store as a single app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and searches, has user ratings and reviews, can be managed with ScreenTime and other apps from parental control, appear on the user’s device, etc.
- Game streaming services may offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find games on the App Store, provided the app adheres to all guidelines, including the offer users of the ability to pay for a subscription with -app buy and use Sign in with Apple. All games included in the catalog app must link to a single App Store product page.
The new guidelines focusing on streaming game services come after Microsoft criticized Apple and blamed the company for its decision not to bring its xCloud streaming game service to iPhones and iPads. The new guidelines formalize Apple’s requirements for the streaming games category and offer a path for companies like Microsoft and Google to bring their services into the iOS ecosystem, albeit with the requirement that the in-purchasing system be used. app.
While the details here are still a bit obscure, it looks like the game you download from the App Store may essentially be a “wrapper” and the actual game is streamed over your internet connection. Essentially, you’d have to download the “game” from the App Store, sign in with an existing account or sign up using Apple’s in-app purchase system, then play from the company’s servers.
There are also new guidelines for App Clips, which is a new feature in iOS 14:
App clips, widgets, extensions and notifications must be related to the content and functionality of your app. Additionally, all features and functionality of App Clip must be included in the main app binary. App clips cannot contain advertisements.
Finally, Apple is also cracking down on applications that offer personal loans. Apple says apps that offer personal loans must clearly disclose all terms of the loan, including things like the maximum annual percentage and payment due date. Apps are also prohibited from charging a maximum APR greater than 36% and may not request a full refund in 60 days or less. Apple says these personal loan changes comply with the military loan law.
You can find the complete App Store review guidelines on Apple’s developer website here.
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