The App Store‘s review guidelines have been a point of contention for a long time. And while Apple has made changes over the years, aiming to make the whole experience better (as a whole) for (most) developers, there are still issues. This summer will add a couple of changes for devs that might help.
Announced today well after the special event keynote, Apple issued a press release that goes over several important new additions for developers moving forward. The press release is all about the new technologies that Apple is implementing for developers to usher in the next wave of applications, and introduces things like Xcode 12, among other new additions.
The full press release covers a lot of ground, including greater access to Apple’s various platforms:
This year, Apple is providing developers with even more ways to deeply integrate their apps into core platform features in order to deliver powerful functionality in a way that also protects user privacy and security. The new Find My network accessory program lets third-party device makers take advantage of a network with hundreds of millions of devices, while continuing to offer end-to-end encryption so only the user can see the location of their item. HomePod also has a new program to integrate third-party music services. Email and browser app developers can offer their apps as default options, selectable by users. And Safari for Mac is adding support for the popular WebExtensions API used by Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, making it easy for extension developers to work with Safari, and distribute through the Mac App Store.
The press release also talks about new features coming to iOS and iPadOS 14, including more full-featured widgets and App Clips. But, there is one important change to developers that may help when it comes to the App Store’s contentious review guidelines.
Apple is going to implement a couple of different changes built specifically for developers that run afoul of the review process for their app(s). The first part is a new appeals process, which will let developers appeal a negative decision regarding their app. But, what’s more, there will be “a mechanism” for the developer to directly challenge not just the decision, but the guideline itself. Apple doesn’t explicitly say that this will lead to any major changes as far as the guidelines are concerned, but it does appear to suggest this could be a way for developers to make some lasting change based on their direct feedback.
The second new addition relates to bug fixes. Many apps have run into an issue with future app updates, including important bug fixes (potentially fixing bugs that are causing major app issues), that are not permitted because the app is rejected due to the review guidelines. Now, with this change, Apple is not going to block updates that are geared towards bug fixes just because the app is being rejected for other reasons.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Apple ran into an issue just last week when it initially approved the new “Hey” email app, and then ultimately rejected it because the app did not include an in-app purchase for customers to subscribe to the email’s service directly within the app. Apple’s rejection meant that the developers behind the app, Basecamp, could not issue bug fix updates for the app, which was causing even more issues for customers.
Apple ultimately approved the app earlier today, though, as Basecamp made changes.
These two changes should be welcomed by developers. Apple says they will be issued sometime this summer, but there is no specific date to circle on the calendar just yet.
What do you think of these changes? Should Apple be doing more? Let us know in the comments!