Apple has recently announced a number of changes to the ‘App Store Review Guidelines’ after major App Store disputes over the last several months. The new guidelines give users a close look at in-app purchases, streaming game services, and personal lending applications.
Apple says the goal of the new 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 guidelines is to add additional transparency around the types of applications required to use Apple’s in-app purchase system. There is a specific explanation related to person-to-person experiences, something that has come under scrutiny as businesses shift to virtual practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
New App Store Guidelines by Apple
Apple says that if an app enables the purchase of realtime person-to-person experiences between two individuals, such as fitness training, medical consultations, or tutoring, developers can use purchase methods other than in-app purchases. If it’s a one-to-many service, the app must use in-app purchases instead.
Furthermore, Reader applications may now offer account creation for free tiers as well as account management functionality for existing customers. Free apps acting as a stand-alone companion to a paid web-based tool, such as email services and web hosting, do not need to use in-app purchases so long as there is no purchasing inside the app.
Apple’s new guidelines also focus heavily on streaming game services and formalize the expectations for these services. This will apply to services such as Microsoft’s Xbox streaming game platform and Google Stadia, though the tech giant is not specifically addressing any specific services with these guidelines.
“Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines — for example, each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.”
“App Clips, widgets, extensions, and notifications should be related to the content and functionality of your app. Additionally, all App Clip features and functionality must be included in the main app binary. App Clips cannot contain advertising.”
Finally, Apple is clarifying guidelines regarding applications that offer personal loans. The tech giant says that apps offering personal loans must clearly disclose all loan terms, including things like maximum Annual Percentage Rate and payment due day. In addition to this, apps are also prohibited from charging a maximum APR higher than 36% and may not demand repayment in full in 60 days or less. Apple says these changes related to personal loans are in accordance with the military lending act.
Developers and users looking for the full outline of recent changes can head to the App Store Review Guidelines on Apple’s developer portal.