Apple revises App Store rules to permit game streaming apps, clarify in-app purchases

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Apple is launching revised App Store Guidance to explain how it will handle new technologies, such as game streaming services, Video clips, and buttons, in addition to further explaining its policy on how and when to receive in-app purchases from certain types of applications. The updates come at a moment when Apple is fighting with Epic in court over its conditions to allow in-app transactions. The firm is now having regulators scrutinize the App Store activity over monopolistic activities in the U.S., E.U. And Australia, and so forth.

Some of the changes are actually setting in writing how the laws of Apple apply to the innovations it implements for the latest smartphone operating system, iOS 14, coming later this year.

The updated standards (2.5.16) include new aspects of the iOS, in particular Software Clips (slimmed down copies of software with minimal functionality), buttons, plugins, and updates. The standards mandate that the content in both of those formats be linked to the main app’s design and functionality— so it can’t just be extra features at random. They must also be used in the principal binary (the primary executable file) and can not contain ads.

One key change in the new guidelines (3.1.2 a) outlines how Apple, including Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia, will handle game streaming applications. The guidelines also state that Apple will allow these services to run on its App Store, as long as each individual game title sold by the provider is independently sent for approval to Apple’s App Review and has its own App Store page.

The game subscription service will be able to sell a “catalog version” independently, through which users will subscribe to the service itself. This collection app can connect its subscription packages to the individual gaming titles, and this will now include games from several publishers. This is a similar platform to the one already accepted by Apple for GameClub, the third-party app store.GameClub is a subscription-based service for retro games, but not a live gaming service, where each game has its own separate page.

Apple says the reason that it needs to include individual game lists is that it can check them to conform with the standards and terms of its software, and for ranking purposes. Moreover, this model also helps consumers to rate and analyze every single book.

In reality, this move means that users would have to subscribe to the game streaming service through in-app transactions inside the “catalog tab” of the provider in order to access the similar gaming games that are connected to that subscription. If the customer has already subscribed to the service on another network, however, Apple would allow the customer to log in without paying twice.

Apple’s guidelines also note that non-subscribers can’t be harmed by the game providers. In other words, a customer should be able to import to their computer any of the individual games in the game streaming service, and start playing immediately, even if they have not subscribed. But Apple says that this could be an initial experience, not the complete game. For eg, a client might play a level or two and then have the upsell sold to purchase the full subscription.

There are several updates to the rules of the App Store beyond the playing of games, too.

One turn applications like Kindle and Netflix that have been able to get around Apple’s App Store payments by providing a restricted “reader” experience — that is, users build an account and pay somewhere, but they can log in to the iOS app to read e-books or stream videos included with their package.

These reader apps can still deliver account development inside iOS under the new rules, as long as it’s for the product’s free tier. This can also provide the “Functionality of client management.”

Apple also clarifies the guidelines on “enterprise applications,” that is to say those that a company offers for an employee or student use to companies or organizations. In addition to in-app purchasing, these applications, which may involve anything like Slack, are permitted to use different purchasing approaches to receive payments.

Additionally, Apple has also adopted a provision that seems to be tied to its latest disagreement with the Hey email software developers Basecamp. Now it allows developers to offer free standalone applications (a different group from reader software) offering services such as VOIP messaging, recording, or email. These games, which are simply mobile app buddies, don’t sanction in-app sales and the associated Apple costs — as long as there are no transactions in the store, and there are no requests for action to spend elsewhere. This encourages applications, like Hey, to bill consumers elsewhere as long as they do not call in the app to order.

It also deals with problems such as the one that just popped up with WordPress. Apple had briefly blocked WordPress from updates when users were led to a payment page inside its app from a web window. Apple also apologized for this problem but it also allowed WordPress to ensure that consumers of the app were unable to reach its pricing page.

Apps delivering person-to-person support, such as tutoring or telehealth, may also use alternate payment options to in-app transactions. The reason that this can only happen between two persons. If it’s a one-to-many service, otherwise it will need to use in-app purchases.

Another move affects all personal and loan applications, forcing them to explicitly report all loan terms, including, but not limited to, the corresponding annual cumulative percentage rates and due dates for payment. These applications may not incur a gross Rate in excess of 36 percent, including expenses or rates and penalties, or request full payment in 60 days or less. That’s built to protect customers, Apple says.

The updates also state that music and video rentals will be incorporated with data plans for subscribers and included in wireless network applications, with Apple’s support. The guidelines also implement the latest policy, recently announced, which states that Apple can not postpone bug updates even if an app is disqualified for violations.

Developers may also get a few more clarifications about what not to do, such as removing functions, or the design of an interface becoming ambiguous. One of the most important changes is that Apple said developers really have to specify what an app upgrade entails, as it would deny generic explanations in App Store Connect’s Notes for Review area. No more “bug patches and performance improvements” it seems.

 

 

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