Apple updated its App Store guidelines with the release of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12 Monterey, and watchOS 8 at the WWDC 2021 event. The updated App Store guidelines allow developers to report scams and frauds and hold other developers accountable for it.
Just a few hours before WWDC 2021, a report was published that claimed 2% of the top 1,000 grossing apps on the App Store were scams and frauds. Apple has been under scrutiny for the past few months due to the increase in the number of App Store scams.
Apple has updated its App Store Guidelines to control some of the scams and frauds running on the App Store. A new section of the guidelines states that repeated manipulative or misleading behavior or other fraudulent conduct will lead to the developer’s removal from the Apple Developer Program.
The updated App Store Review Guidelines:
- 1.4.1: “Hookup” apps that may include pornography or be used to facilitate prostitution will be rejected.
- 1.2.1: Added new guideline for creator content.
- 1.4.3 and 5.1.1(ix): Addressed in-app sales from licensed and legal cannabis dispensaries.
- 1.7: Apps for reporting alleged criminal activity must involve local law enforcement, and can only be offered in countries where such involvement is active.
- 2.3.1: Clarified that misleading marketing, whether it takes place inside or outside of the App Store, is grounds for removal from the App Store and the Apple Developer Program.
- 2.3.10: Simplified the rule on irrelevant information in app metadata.
- 3.1.1: Clarified that digital gift cards can only be sold using in-app purchase, and that physical gift cards that are sold within an app and then mailed to customers may use payment methods other than in-app purchase.
- 3.1.2(a): Expanded the guideline that allows cellular carrier apps to include music and video subscriptions in pre-defined bundles attached to data plans to clarify that carrier apps can include other kinds of subscriptions, so long as in-app purchase is supported for new users and the carrier provides a mechanism for customers to revert to an in-app purchase subscription after the bundled service expires or terminates.
- 3.1.3: Clarified the email communication policy for apps that are permitted to use purchase methods other than in-app purchase.
- 4.2: Clarified that apps that do not provide adequate utility may not be accepted on the App Store.
- 4.3: Added drinking game apps as a saturated category.
- 4.7: Reformatted by adding 4.7.1 and 4.7.2 for clarity.
- 5.1.1(v): Apps supporting account creation must also offer account deletion.
- 5.6 and 5.6.1 – 5.6.4: Expanded the Developer Code of Conduct to address additional developer trust and safety issues. New rules in this section require developer identity information to be accurate and up to date; make clear that manipulating any element of the App Store experience such as reviews and charts is not permitted; and that excessive customer reports about concerns with an app may be a factor in deciding whether the developer is complying with the Code of Conduct.
- Bug Fix Submissions: Bug fixes for safety issues will not be delayed over guideline violations.
Along with the new guidelines, Apple has also updated the App Review contact form. According to the new form, a developer can appeal against an App Store Review if he/she believes that their app was rejected due to unfair treatment. “You can now report an app if you believe it presents a trust or safety concern or is in violation of the App Store Review Guidelines.”
Apple aims to curb some of the phishy practices that have been going on in the past few months on the App Store with these guidelines.