The first update of the App Store audit guide in 2021!

The first update of the App Store audit guide in 2021!

Apple has made its first update to the App Store Audit Guidelines since 2021! It’s easy to see from the update that Apple is preparing for the transparent App privacy tracking feature that will go live early this spring. In addition to privacy, this update also covers App metadata, in-app purchases, streaming game services, and many other aspects. To facilitate you to quickly grasp the main points of this update, we have summarized the update and interpreted the key provisions.

Table of Content

The App Store Audit Guide added 1 new article, clarified (i.e., clear) 11 articles, and deleted 3 articles, the following are the main contents of this update.

Unless otherwise permitted by law, you may not use, transfer, or share another person’s personal data without their permission. Data collected by the App may be shared with third parties only for the purpose of improving the app or for advertising purposes (subject to the Apple Developer Program License Agreement). You must obtain explicit permission from users through the App Tracking Transparency API to track their activity. Learn more about tracking. If an app shares user data without user consent or fails to comply with data privacy protection laws, the app may be taken down and you may be removed from the Apple Developer Program.

Use of prohibited substances

The App Store does not allow the distribution of any app that encourages the consumption of tobacco and e-cigarette products, the use of prohibited substances, or the excessive consumption of alcohol. apps that encourage minors to consume any of these items will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of controlled substances (except in authorized pharmacies), marijuana or tobacco is also not permitted.

Customers should know what they are getting when they download or purchase your app, so please ensure that all of your app metadata, including privacy information, app descriptions, screenshots, and previews, accurately reflect the core experience of the app; and please remember to update to stay current with new versions.

Please choose a unique app name, specify keywords that accurately describe the app, and do not try to trick the system by wrapping any metadata in trademarked terms, popular app names, pricing information, or other irrelevant phrases. app names must be limited to 30 characters or less. metadata such as app name, subtitle, screenshots, and previews must not contain metadata that does not correspond to that metadata. App sub-titles are a great place to provide detailed background information about the app. Apple may modify inappropriate keywords or take other appropriate steps to prevent inappropriate use at any time.

Recharge cards, gift certificates, vouchers and coupons that can be redeemed for digital goods or services may only be sold within the app through in-app purchase programs.

Apps may provide in-app purchase currency for customers to “reward” developers or digital content providers within the app.

Games offered as subscriptions to streaming game services may offer a single subscription shared across multiple third-party apps and services; however, these games must be downloaded directly from the App Store and must be designed to avoid duplicate payments by subscribers and should not be detrimental to the interests of non-subscribers.

Enterprise Services: If your app will only be sold by you directly to organizations or groups for use by their employees or students (e.g., professional databases and classroom management tools), you may allow enterprise users to access previously purchased content or subscriptions. If the app will be sold to consumers, individual users, or households, you must use the in-app purchase program.

One-to-One Services: If your app allows the purchase of real-time one-to-one services between two people (e.g., student tutoring, medical consultations, house-sitting services, or fitness training), you may use purchases other than in-app purchase items to collect the appropriate payment. For live one-to-many and one-to-many services, you must use in-app purchases.

If the App is used for financial transactions, investments or money management, the publisher shall be the financial institution performing such services.

If the app requires additional resources to be downloaded in order to function properly on first launch, please disclose the size of the download and alert the user prior to downloading.

Apps that provide services in heavily regulated areas (e.g., banking and financial services, healthcare, gambling, and air travel) or require sensitive user information should be submitted by the legal entity providing the corresponding service and not by individual developers.

Removed Rosetta example: These apps should run on the currently released OS and should not use discontinued or optional technologies (e.g. Java).

This audit guide update focus and interpretation

Prohibit the distribution of apps that encourage the consumption of tobacco, e-cigarettes and alcohol

In this Apple App Store audit guide, Apple once again clearly prohibits the distribution of any app that encourages minors to consume tobacco, e-cigarettes, prohibited drugs, etc.

Apps that encourage the consumption of tobacco and e-cigarette products, the use of prohibited drugs, or excessive alcohol consumption are not allowed in the App Store. apps that encourage minors to consume any of these items will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of controlled substances (except in authorized pharmacies), marijuana or tobacco is also not permitted.

“Privacy information” will be one of Apple’s audit priorities

The App Store’s privacy information display is a new feature unveiled at WWDC20 in June 2020, and will go live at the end of 2020 as scheduled.

Customers should know what they’re getting when they download or purchase your App, so make sure all your App metadata, including privacy information, App descriptions, screenshots, and previews, accurately reflect the core App experience; and remember to update it to keep it up to date with new versions.

In June 2020, Apple announced at the WWDC20 conference that the privacy terms and permissions of the App will be displayed on the App details page in the App Store by the end of 2020, and on November 24, Apple reminded developers that they need to submit App privacy information in App Store Connect, and from December 8, 2020, the submitted or updated App will need to include privacy information.

The privacy label on the App details page in the App Store

According to the statistics of Seven Macs, in the monthly ranking of rejected apps, clause 2.3 (accurate metadata) is often listed in the forefront of rejected clauses, which also reflects the importance Apple attaches to the review of app metadata. For the developers, on the one hand, they need to fill in the privacy information truthfully to ensure that the app is audited in time; on the other hand, they need to set the data within a reasonable range to enhance the trust of users.

Apple gradually expands the scope of metadata audit

In this review guide, Apple further clarifies and regulates metadata such as App name, subtitle, screenshot and preview.

Please choose a unique app name, specify keywords that accurately describe the app, and do not try to trick the system by wrapping any metadata in trademarked terms, popular app names, pricing information, or other irrelevant phrases. App sub-titles are a great place to provide detailed background information about the app. Apple may modify inappropriate keywords or take other appropriate steps to prevent inappropriate use at any time.

Not only is it clear that the app name must not contain prices, words or descriptions that do not correspond to that metadata, but it is also clear that metadata such as subtitle, screenshots and previews still cannot violate the above guidelines.

Remove Rosetta’s example, some apps need to adapt to M1 chip

Given that the new M1 chip is designed on the ARM architecture, applications built on Intel’s x86 architecture must run through Apple’s translation layer, Rosetta 2, in order to be used on Apple Silicon Macs. Discontinued or optional technologies may not be used in order to avoid the possibility of incompatible cross-platform languages or tools that could affect the user experience.

Apple clarifies the items that must be purchased through internal purchase

In-App Purchase Items.

Apps may offer in-app purchase currency for customers to “reward” developers or digital content providers within the app.

Recharge cards, gift certificates, vouchers and coupons that can be redeemed for digital goods or services can only be sold within the App through the In-App Purchase Program.

Earlier, many developers have expressed strong dissatisfaction with Apple’s drawback mechanism. Not long ago, Apple adjusted the commission for small and medium-sized developers from 30% to 15%, which is undoubtedly a good news for developers. In this audit guide, Apple also clarified the items that must be sold through in-app purchases: recharge cards, gift certificates, redemption coupons and vouchers that can be redeemed for digital goods or services can only be sold within the app through in-app purchase items.

Changed “one-to-one experience” to “one-to-one service”, where one person can provide services to another person by means other than in-app purchases

Change “one-to-one experience” to “one-to-one service” to make it clear that the service provided by one person to another is included in the scope, and it is not mandatory to collect money by the way of in-app purchase.

In September 2020, Apple adjusted its App Store review rules to relax the restrictions on in-app purchases. Separate details were provided for different platforms and business models such as Reading App, Cross Platform Services, Enterprise Services, One-to-One Experience, and Free Standalone App. The description of one-to-one experiences states that if an App allows the purchase of a real-time one-to-one experience between two people (e.g., tutoring a student, medical consultation, real estate tour, or fitness training), those payments can be collected using purchases other than in-app purchases. Live one-to-many experiences must be purchased using in-app purchases.

This change in terminology from “one-to-one experience” to “one-to-one service” further clarifies that services provided by one person to another can also be charged for using in-app purchases in an unexpected way.

“cloud game” service can provide a single subscription shared across multiple third-party apps and services

This adjustment has liberalized the subscription method of streaming game services

Games provided as subscriptions to streaming game services can provide a single subscription shared across multiple third-party apps and services; however, these games must be downloaded directly from the App Store and must be designed to avoid repeated payments by subscribing users and should not harm the interests of non-subscribing users.

Streaming games, in short, are often referred to as “cloud gaming” services. After this review guide update, Apple relaxed the restrictions on the cloud game platform, saying that cloud games can provide a single subscription shared across multiple third-party apps and services, but “all games must be downloaded directly from the App Store”.

As a highly anticipated development in the gaming industry, the cloud gaming business model aims to provide a distribution platform for game makers. Companies such as Sony, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Google have all laid out this track, but have struggled to enter the iOS ecosystem. But it remains to be seen whether Apple’s new rules can be seen as a boon for these platforms. According to the rules, any games offered on cloud gaming platforms need to be individually reviewed by Apple, meaning that these game makers must be Apple developers, and in-game purchases must also use Apple’s payment system, from which Apple usually receives a 30 percent cut of revenue, even if developers enjoy the “Small Developer Program Even if developers enjoy the benefits of the “Small Developer Program”, they also need to pay a 15% commission.

Enterprise Services: Allows corporate users to access previously purchased content or subscriptions

Added a new scenario for businesses selling to organizations or groups: when used by employees or students, businesses can allow users to access previously purchased content or subscriptions.

Enterprise services: If your app will only be sold by you directly to organizations or groups for use by their employees or students (e.g., professional databases and classroom management tools), you can allow enterprise users to access previously purchased content or subscriptions. If the app will be sold to consumers, individual users, or households, you must use in-app purchase items.

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