Apple relaxes its controversial guidelines for template-based apps, waives dev fees for governments and nonprofits starting next year

Apple took a stance recently against cookie-cutter style apps by outright banning them from the App Store. These template-based apps were often used as ways to clone low-quality apps (any remember the onslaught of Flappy Bird lookalikes?) Unfortunately, they were also often used by small business, nonprofits, or government organizations who didn’t have the resources to develop their own apps from scratch.

Once again the App Store guidelines were subtlety updated and a few key changes largely went under the radar.

Sarah Perez at TechCrunch took note and brought those changes to everyone’s attention.

The biggest news is that Apple made the rules surrounding cookie-cutter apps a bit more lax for these developers.

The newly updated guidelines now says:

4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.

Another acceptable option for template providers is to create a single binary to host all client content in an aggregated or “picker” model, for example as a restaurant finder app with separate customized entries or pages for each client restaurant, or as an event app with separate entries for each client event.
That should be much more reasonable for anyone looking to use an app template. It means you have to submit the app yourself instead of relying on the template builder to submit on your behalf, but it is at least something.

Additionally, Apple will no longer require the $99 developer fee for nonprofits and government organizations. They are still required to build and submit their apps, but they don’t have to worry about the registration amount. That change should go into effect, starting in the US, next year.

What do you think of Apple’s updated guidelines? Do you think this is more reasonable, or should templates be banned altogether? Let us know below!