Apple has released an update of its App Store guidelines to explain how it plans to approach new technologies, including game streaming services, App Clips and widgets, along with providing more detail about its in-app purchases policy for certain app categories.
The timing of the release of the updated guidelines apparently has to do with Apple's ongoing battle with Epic Games in relation to issues over in-app purchases. However, other than that, Apple is just sharing information regarding its rules that apply to technologies that its new OS, iOS 14, will be supporting. iOS 14 is expected to be launched later this fall.
The new technologies include App Clips, which are slimmed down versions of apps with limited functionality. Other technologies include widgets, extensions, and notifications. According to the updated guidelines, the content in all these formats must be related to the content and functionality of the main app, it must be part of the main binary, and can not include advertising.
Apple's updated approach towards game streaming apps, which is one of the key changes in the guidelines, explains that Apple will now allow game streaming services to operate on its App Store only if each game title offered by a service is separately submitted to Apple's app review for vetting and has its own App Store listing.
Moreover, a catalog app will be offered by each game streaming service, that will allow customers to subscribe to the service itself. Apple also approved a similar model for the third-party app catalog, GameClub, which is a subscription-based service for classic games with separate listing for each game. Apple has separate game listings for rating and reviewing purposes and for customers to rate and review the titles as well.
Among the new rules, is one for customers, which says that while customers can download games in the game streaming service and instantly start playing without subscription, their experience could only be introductory and not for the entire game.
Updates other than those of game streaming rules include rules for apps like Kindle and Netflix. The updated rule allows customers to create an account and pay elsewhere, but be able to log in to the iOS app to read e-books or watch movies included in the subscription.
Furthermore, Apple's new rules for enterprise apps allow the apps to use alternative purchase methods in addition to in-app purchases for collecting payments.
Another important rule that Apple has introduced is for developers, which now allows them to offer standalone apps that provide services like VOIP calling, storage or email. The standalone apps are basically companions to web apps and do not support in-app purchases and the fees that Apple charges. This rule also applies to apps that offer one-on-one experiences like telehealth and tutoring, but if a service is one-to-many, then it would have to use in-app purchases.
Apple is also now requiring personal and loan apps to clearly disclose all loan terms, including (but not limited to) equivalent maximum annual percentage rates and payment due dates. According to Apple, the rule is specifically created to protect customers as these apps may not charge APR higher than 36% at maximum or require full payment in 60 days or less.
As for music and video subscriptions, Apple's updated policy is now allowing bundling the subscriptions (with Apple's approval) into carrier's data plans and will also let them be offered in cellular carrier apps.
As per the updated guidelines, as Apple had announced earlier, it will not delay bug fixes even when an app has been rejected for violations.