Apple revises controversial model-based apps guidelines – TechCrunch


Apple today announced the change to the App Store guideline which prohibits apps created using templates and other app build services. When the company revised its policies earlier this year, the move was aimed at reducing the number of low-quality and spam apps. But the decision ended up impacting a much larger market – including small businesses, restaurants, nonprofits, organizations, clubs and others who lack the expertise or the funds. internal to build custom apps from scratch.

Apple’s new rule aims to provide greater clarity on what type of apps will and will not be accepted in the App Store.

Before 4.2.6 App Store Directive read as follows:

4.2.6 Applications created from a commercial model or from an application generation service will be rejected.

Of the society revised wording now declares:

4.2.6 Applications created from a marketed template or application generation service will be rejected unless submitted directly by the application content provider. These departments should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should provide tools for their clients to create personalized and innovative apps that deliver unique customer experiences.

Another acceptable option for template providers is to create a single binary to host all customer content in an aggregated or ‘picker’ template, for example as a restaurant search app with separate custom entries or pages for each customer restaurant, or as an event app with separate entries for each customer event.

This is Apple’s attempt to clarify what it thinks about model-based apps.

At the heart of this is the idea that while it is okay for small businesses and organizations to go through an intermediary like application modeling services, application model providers should not be the ones. who publish these applications on behalf of their customers.

Instead, Apple wants every app in the App Store to be published by the company or organization behind the app. (This is something that has already been suggested). This means your local pizzeria, church, gym, etc. should have reviewed the App Store documentation and license agreement themselves, and be more actively involved in the app release process.

In early 2018, Apple will waive the $ 99 developer fee for all governments and nonprofits from within the United States to facilitate this transition.

It’s always good if an intermediary – like a templating service – helps them with this task. And it’s also good if a templating service helps them build the app in the first place. In fact, Apple doesn’t really care about “how” the app is built (as long as it’s not a wrapped web page) – it does care about the end result.

Applications must offer a high-quality experience, insists the company. They shouldn’t all look the same; they shouldn’t look like clones of each other. And, more importantly, they shouldn’t look like the web or serve as a simple wrapper around what might otherwise just be the company’s website or their Facebook page.

Apps are meant to be Following that the Web, offering a deeper and richer experience, believes Apple.

Above: The original version of the official Lumineers app, designed by AppMakr

However, there is some disagreement on the extent of the application of this rule.

Today, consumers can interact with any of these “clone models” – like an app for their favorite taco restaurant, church, local band, school, and more. They don’t know that the app is one of many that like it, and they probably don’t care.

Additionally, some sort of uniformity of apps in a given space might make them easier to use, some argue. You’ll know where to find the ‘mobile order’ feature or where the menu is when they’re not all unique snowflakes, trying to be different for the sake of difference.

On the other hand, Apple considers an ecosystem filled with thousands of copiers and clones to be a very bad thing. This is unfair to developers who have custom built their apps, and it can even crash the App Store when trying to load some 20,000 apps released under a single developer account.

While most generally agree that shoddy apps don’t deserve to be on the App Store, there is concern in the industry that the ban on model-based apps as a whole has been an overshoot.

The very movement caught the attention of Congressman Ted W. Lieu (33rd District, Calif.), Who told Apple that it was “casting too wide a net” in its efforts to remove spam and illegitimate apps from the App Store, and that it was “invalidating apps from developers of long-standing and legitimate which poses no threat to the application. Store integrity.

It also seemed odd that a company that on the one hand argued that everyone deserved free and equal access to the internet created a rule that made it harder for small businesses and nonprofits to do business. on the App Store, especially at a time when access to the Web is more often done through the gateway of mobile applications. (See table above – browser is outdated).

At the very least, this changed language appears to offer some breathing space for modeling service providers. They can still act as a go-between for small businesses as long as they build custom apps that don’t look alike and customers publish them under their own accounts. They can even use components to build these apps, as long as the apps have a variety of interfaces and provide an app-like experience, not the web.

The rule arguably aims to provide consumers with a better App Store filled with well-designed, quality apps, but it will have a huge effect on small businesses and their ability to compete with larger entities. Of course, the pizzeria could sell through Uber Eats – but at a steep cost. Of course, the nail salon could advertise on yelp or mom-and-pop could have a Facebook page – and many do, of course. This is the nature of the world. But it also puts the business at the mercy of larger aggregators, while an app – much like a website – gives the business more control over its own destiny.

Recently, TechCrunch reported that many companies operating in this space have been given a deadline of January 1, 2018 to comply with the revised guidelines. After that date, the App Store review team told companies that their new apps would not be allowed in the App Store. Some applications had already fallen under the ban and had their submissions rejected. (Apps already live were grandfathered and could be updated. But it was not known how long that would be.)

Some companies even had close their business as a result of these changes.

The adjusted tongue doesn’t seem to allow them to continue as before. Instead, they’ll need to develop new tools to provide customers with “personalized and innovative applications that deliver unique customer experiences”.

In other words, look more like Squarespace, less like Google Sites, but for apps.

Above: One of them is a model-driven app. You can tell, right?

Not all of the companies involved were what you would consider to be makers of “spam” applications. While, of course, it made sense to ban some that wrapped web pages, others operated in a more gray area.

They went from those who offered tools for small businesses who wanted their own presence in app stores for those serving particular industries – like ChowNow, who creates apps for restaurants who want their own mobile ordering systems, or those who build apps for churches, fitness studios, spas, politicians, events and more.

These companies told us that Guideline 4.2.6 (and sometimes 4.3) was cited by the Application Review Team when rejecting their applications. They also told us that they found it difficult to get clarification from Apple when discussing the matter in private and one-on-one phone calls.

The first rule (4.2.6) prohibits template-based applications, while the last (4.3) is more of a catch-all to ban spam. Rule 4.3 has been used at times when Apple couldn’t prove that the app was created using a wizard or drag-and-drop system, we’re told.

Above: the wording of the rules before today’s changes

When Apple first announced the changes to WWDC, many of these app build model and service providers believed they would not be affected – the ban was aimed at eliminating clone makers and spammers. . That’s why it came as a surprise when Apple critics began to inform them that they too would no longer be allowed to publish their apps on the App Store. They did not see themselves as spammers.

Apple’s new policy sheds more light on the matter, but it doesn’t really change Apple’s earlier intention.

If the app is actually just a website, if it looks like other apps, don’t worry; the App Store is not for you.

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