- Apple has released an updated App Store Review Guidelines document.
- Developers with sketchy behaviour will eventually be kicked out of App Store Developer Programme.
- Apple is making the developer enrolment and app publishing process safer.
Apple just announced the brand new iOS 15 version for the iPhone. There is a myriad of improvements and new features in the new version, but the core functionality remains the same. By core functionality, I mean the way apps are distributed on the platform: the App Store. And to make the App Store even more robust, Apple is updating the App Store Review Guidelines that, the company says, will bring extra protection against frauds and scams in the app marketplace. Apple stressed privacy and better user controls at the WWDC and this new lengthy document on updated guidelines for the App Store will enforce related measures.
The App Store Review Guidelines brings some new clauses, over and above the existing ones, for developers that they need to abide by. One of the important parts of the new set of guidelines is the updated Apple's Developer Code of Conduct, according to which a developer can be booted from the Apple Developer Program after incidents of repeated fraudulent activities and manipulative or misleading behaviour. Apple has been following the same process of culling apps that promote fraud and scam on the iPhone, but the new code of conduct has them explicitly written to avoid any confusion.
In a very straightforward clause, Apple has informed developers that engaging in activities that do not fall in line with the updated developer code of conduct will result in the Apple Developer account being terminated. But developers can appeal for a re-activation by writing down to Apple the details of the improvements the app developers have made to abide by the code of conduct. Apple will restore the account only after it has made sure the changes stated are implemented. This request process will prevent developers from rolling back to spreading fraud and scam in the App Store after the first few days of showing good behaviour, in case their account is restored.
Developers will also need to furnish accurate contact details to Apple, according to the new guidelines. The information these developers provide will also be visible to customers, which is why it is paramount for them to cross-check the details for their accuracy and functionality. Verification of details will prevent identity scams on the App Store, much like the one wherein an app masquerading as a crypto wallet app scammed a user out of $600,000 in Bitcoin. This app took the name and icon of a different company that made hardware for cryptocurrencies.
This crypto-wallet app managed to trick people also because of the high ratings. Apple is cracking down on fake ratings, as well. Apple is also asking developers to keep it informed of certain behaviours, such as excessive negative reviews and a high rate of refunds after their app is published.
Apple is getting as stricter as it can when it comes to developers with shady behaviour on the platform. There is a large section of iPhone users who have flagged as being victims of scams, and Apple has sort of not been able to help them much. The new guidelines sound promising but the issue of phoney developers is not going to diminish. In a court hearing in the case against Epic Games over Fortnite, Apple's product chief Craig Federighi said the App Store on the iPhone is the safest way to download apps. And to its merit, the 30 per cent commission for developers is just. Apple did not make any announcement about lowering the app commission.