|App Store guidelines ban police-spotting applications,|
Apple this week warned developers in a new set of App Store Review Guidelines detailing which apps will be accepted or rejected and which ones are allowed to do so. The changes to the guidelines affect push notifications, sign-in with Apple, data collection and storage, mobile device management and more, the company said. Some other high-profile changes include the ability for apps to now use notifications for advertising, stricter rules for dating and fortune-telling apps, and a new rule that would allow Apple to reject apps that help protect them from law enforcement, among other things. .
This subsequent change to police-spotting applications, surprisingly, did not receive as much attention as changes to push ads or dating applications - although it is one of the most significant among the new rules
An earlier version of the App Store Review Guide (seen here in a snapshot from January 2020) states that applications can only display DUI checkpoints published by law enforcement agencies and states that applications should not encourage activities such as "drunk driving" or " Extra speed. " These were reasonable concerns.
The revised rules (Section 1.4.4.) Now state that Apple will reject applications that commit or use any kind of offense in addition to the existing language "to help protect users from law enforcement."
As you may recall, Apple went into hot water last year over its decision to reject the popular mapping application, HKMap, which Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters used to evade police. Initially, the app was approved, but it was pulled just days after Apple was criticized by Chinese state media, who said the app "allowed rioters ... to act violently."
The app allows users to source crowds such as police locations, tear gas use and other details related to the protests, which were added to the regularly updated map. In a statement, Apple said it removed the app when they learned it was "targeting and attacking police "Was used.
The new App Store review guidelines put Apple's final decision on this type of application in writing. Effectively, it bans applications that help protect users from law enforcement. Arguably, avoiding the police doesn’t always mean “committing a crime” according to the guidelines. For example, Amnesty International has documented incidents of police brutality, including beatings and torture, during police protests in Hong Kong. HKmap may also allow users to bypass the police for their own safety.
Apple's rule is therefore vague in that it allows a final call on how an application is being used before deciding whether to reject or ban it.
Other note-to-note changes to the guidelines include an update (Section 4.5.4) that allows app developers to send marketing messages (aka advertising) to their push notifications. Earlier these were banned. This change was immediately hit by the screams of users, but it may not be as bad as it first seemed.
Clearly, many applications are already spamming their users with ads despite previous bans. Now, they need to get customer consent within their app's user interface and provide their app with an opt-out mechanism that allows users to turn off push notification ads. This change will at least force reviewers to look for processes and opt-outs in proposed applications or at least rely on sales to generate revenue.
"Misuse of these services may result in revocation of your benefits," Apple warned.
Another change does not provide a "unique, high-quality" experience for apps but adds "lucky say" and "dating" applications to the list of applications considered spam. Contextual Section (4.3) Apple warns developers about the application categories that people think are appetized, and where it will be more critical with its reviews.
The guidelines now include a new section (5.5.1) that instructs developers on how to respond to app store reviews, "treats customers with respect to respond to their comments" and provides irrelevant information, personal information, spam, and their Message marketing.
And developers now need to use Apple's own API to ask for reviews instead of other systems. This will allow users to toggle the App Store review prompt across all apps from iOS settings.
Finally, Apple reminds developers that all apps, including app updates, are moving forward.