Apple tightening up on App Store restrictions

Apple is beginning to “more uniformly” enforce a restriction in place since the debut of the Apple App Store in 2008, and is notifying developers that it will refuse approval to new apps or updates that include mechanisms to update or alter pre-approved app behavior outside the App Store, notes AppleInsider.

Developers, sometimes with apps already approved and for sale, are receiving a notification from Apple informing them of the issue, and advising them to remove offending code prior to the next update. Apple cites two relevant rules in the message, specifically, section 3.3.2 of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement and App Store Review Guideline 2.5.2.

Both rules have been in place since store debuted. However, popular iOS troubleshooting and update tool, Rollout.io, is impacted by the enforcement. Rollout allows developers to "push code-level changes" to native iOS apps, allowing for coders to "fix bugs, update configuration data, patch security holes or diagnose issues" without dealing with the sometimes lengthy app store review process.

Rollout CEO CEO Erez Rusovsky regarding the company’s compliance with Apple’s guidelines: “Rollout’s mission since we launched in 2014 has been, and will remain: to help developers create and deploy mobile apps quickly and safely. Our platform has been used by hundreds of developers to improve the quality of their apps by fixing thousands of bugs after release. This benefits developers and end-users alike and has prevented – by a conservative estimate – millions of crashes.

“Also, Rollout is safe, secured from any MiTM attacks, and allows developers to immediately patch vulnerabilities as they are discovered, without requiring users to download a new version. Learn more about our commitment to security here.  

“Late yesterday (March 7) we learned that Apple has been contacting developers with a warning that any framework or “code designed explicitly with the capability to change your app’s behavior or functionality after App Review approval” is no longer in compliance with guidelines.

“While Apple has not modified its guidelines , it appears that these guidelines are now being interpreted in a more narrow way.  We are disappointed that Apple has made this change before we have had an opportunity to address any concerns. We have already reached out to Apple to discuss and are committed to adjusting our offering as needed to remain in compliance under the more narrow interpretation of the guidelines.

“We want to reiterate that we have always been careful to remain within Apple’s guidelines (as detailed here); specifically the clause in its guidelines that allows developers to push Javascript to live apps as long as features and functionality are not changed.

“We understand and respect the fact that Apple must have the ability to control its ecosystem, and we recognize that our appeal may not succeed. However, Rollout.io will move forward regardless!

“First, for the last year we have been readying an entirely NEW product offering which addresses the entire app development process, not only post-production. “This new product, which we will be announcing and launching for developer preview in April, will be in full compliance with Apple’s more narrow interpretation of its guidelines.
“Please sign up here to be notified with updates.

“Second, by popular demand we also are working on Android support for our new product, so look for news from us there as well.”