Let’s Talk About Apple

 In Blog, Company News

Apple, and the work that it does, often seems like a black box to outsiders.

They take great pride in the amount of secrecy they maintain around their products and services before they’re released. Apple does a phenomenal job maintaining their current infrastructure without discussing it. Apple rarely talks about how their vast network of products and services operate. It’s one of the reasons that they’ve been so successful in pulling users into their interwoven product network. It’s also a big factor in keeping them within the walls of that circle.

The Apple Review Guidelines are a set of rules that help direct mobile developers on how to publish the best apps possible for the App Store. The spirit of the document is great:

The guiding principle of the App Store is simple – we want to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful […] We’re really trying our best to create the best platform in the world for you to express your talents and make a living, too.

As you snuggle up with a fluffy blanket, pour a glass of wine and read through the guidelines, you’ll start nodding your head. Most of it makes sense. The guidelines cover loads of topics:

  • Inappropriate content rules
  • Best practices for development
  • Monetization
  • Design
  • Legal intricacies

In our industry, we nod our heads “yes” to the vast majority of the rules.

Many of them are even too high-level and basic for a sophisticated publisher who’s been working with the Store for years. Many of the developers are powerhouse firms that have been publishing for years. Many of them are teenagers doing a high school project. Apple and the review team has to cover both in the guidelines.

In the nonprofit world, there has always been one enormous sore spot for publishers: gifts and donations. Since the App Store launched in mid-2008 (with only 500 apps available, compared to the current 2,200,000+ available today), Apple has had a strict policy about not accepting donations in-app. The standing position has always been that charitable donations must process either in Safari or within a SMS message. Presumably, this rule was in place to protect both the company and the nonprofit collecting the donations from fraud and legal tax problems; both platforms have struggled with money laundering and generally inappropriate behavior around donations since the birth of their platforms.

Recently, Apple has introduced a new third-party verification partner: Benevity. Benevity’s job is to help in the struggle to identify nonprofit organizations and to presumably weed out fraudulent organizations. While the process is still new, it’s a great step forward for in-app donations and the technology surrounding them. Apple is also requiring that donors have the option of using Apple Pay – a great way to encourage more users to live in the world of Apple products.

To combat “copycat apps,” Apple added another notable rule in June.

For years, both Google and Apple have had to deal with rogue developers making copies of successful apps. Released in 2013, Flappy Bird had hundreds of thrown-together copycat apps that flooded the stores.┬áThese framework-powered, copied apps provide no value to users – or to Apple. The new rule (4.2.6) tries to limit the most commonly-used approach for these impostors, restricting their ability to mass-produce apps.

At aware3, we tackle the rules through detailed design and deep communication with the review team at Apple. Have more questions about our process? Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter – we’re always happy to chat!