Today, Apple announced updates to its App Store review guidelines to take into account some new features available in iOS 14, such as App Clips, while introducing new rules around game streaming services and in-app purchases.
According to Apple’s updated guidelines, game streaming services such as Microsoft’s xCloud are allowed, but all games included in the streaming game subscription service must be downloaded directly from the App Store.
In recent weeks, Apple has clashed with Microsoft to stream gaming services, with Apple preventing xCloud, Microsoft’s latest gaming service, from being released on the App Store because Apple has no control over the games included in the service. It’s not clear if Microsoft will want to upload all xCloud games individually to the App Store, but it looks like it’s an option to get xCloud on iOS.
Streaming games is allowed as long as it adheres to all guidelines – for example, any game update must be sent for review, developers must provide relevant search metadata, games must use in-app purchases to unlock features, or functionality, etc. Of course, there are always open web and web browser applications to reach all users outside the App Store.
Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as a separate application so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and searches, has user ratings and reviews, and can be managed with Screen Time and other parental control applications to appear on the user’s device and more.
However, game streaming services have the right to offer a catalog app in the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find games uploaded to the App Store, as long as the app follows all Apple guidelines. . Apps should allow users to pay for an in-app purchase subscription and use Apple Login. All games must lead to a separate product page on the App Store.
Other rules state that applications classified as “reading applications”, such as Netflix, can offer free-level account creation and are able to provide account management functionality to existing customers without offering payment options.
With regard to Fortnite, a new explanation from the App Store says that applications are not allowed to include hidden, inactive or undocumented features in the applications, and all application functionality is clear to end users and Apple’s application review team. Epic Games slipped in an option for direct payment in Fortnite, which Apple did not approve, which led to the whole legal battle between Apple and Epic.
All new features, functionality, and product changes should be described with specificity in the Review Notes section when developers submit updates, and Apple says general descriptions will be discarded.
Apps that offer purchase options for real-time person-to-person experiences (such as guides) can now use purchase methods other than in-app purchases to collect payments. One to a few and one to many experiences involving more than two people should use the in-app purchasing system in Apple. There is controversy over purchases in service applications that have been forced to go digital due to the ongoing health crisis, with applications such as ClassPass complaining about Apple’s purchase requirements. Apple’s new policy will allow individual classes to bypass in-app purchases with direct payment options, but this won’t work for classes for many people.
Free standalone apps, which are companions to paid web-based tools, shouldn’t use the in-app purchasing system, as long as there’s no in-app purchase or in-app purchase calls, which seems like a new snafu rule over the WordPress application.
Apps may not require users to rate the app, view the app, watch videos, download other apps, tap ads, enable tracking, or take other similar actions to access functionality, content, use the app, or receive monetary compensation.
App clips, gadgets, extensions, and notifications must be related to the app’s functionality, and Apple says app clips can’t contain advertising. Widgets, notifications, keyboards and watchOS applications are also not allowed to include advertising.
Apple’s full list of changes to the App Store guidelines can be found on the Apple Developer website and through the full App Store guidelines.