This past June, Apple made some controversial changes to its app store review guidelines. Specifically, Apple announced that they would begin to crack down on templated apps beginning in January of 2018 in an effort to combat spam and improve the quality of downloads in the app store. At the time these changes were announced, many people had immediate concerns that the changes could end up unnecessarily punishing small businesses, non-profits and organizations that rely on templated app-building services and do not have the resources to build a custom app from scratch.
Concerns over this even led to a congressman in California to formally petition Apple to reconsider the wording and scope of their new policy.
Revised App Store Guidelines for Templated Apps
It seems the concern and uproar about these proposed changes have been taken seriously by Apple. In fact, by mid-December, Apple made yet another announcement about the proposed changes to the app store review guidelines. Specifically, they revised their guidelines’ wording as follows:
Original text from 4.2.6: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”
Revised wording of 4.2.6: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.”
What These Revisions Mean for Small Businesses and Non-Profits
Small businesses, non-profits and other organizations without the means to create their own in-house apps from scratch will likely find these revisions welcome news. Essentially, the idea is that organizations will be able to continue using these templated services to create their own apps at reasonable prices. However, rather than allowing the app services themselves to publish directly to the app store (as has been the case in the past), individual businesses and organizations themselves will be required to publish the apps themselves.
Apple has stated that the reason for this change is a desire to get these individual businesses more involved and invested in the app publishing process. Rather than allowing app developers to publish apps on their clients’ behalf, businesses will be required to review all relevant app store documentation and guidelines, as well as licensing agreements, before moving forward.
And this is not necessarily new; for years, Apple has been pushing and encouraging businesses and organizations to get involved in the publishing of their own apps. The company believes that in requiring this to be the case beginning in January of 2018, businesses will be more invested in their apps, and the quality of downloads in the app store will be improved overall.
Of course, the new review guidelines will still be in place to reject templated apps that are obvious clones of other apps (which, of course, Apple claims was the original intent of the proposed changes in the first place).
New Challenges for Business Owners and Organizations
While these revisions to the app store review guidelines are certainly a step in the right direction compared to the original changes proposed back in June, even the revised guidelines stand to pose some major problems to small businesses, organizations and non-profits.
For starters, these businesses will need to create their own Apple accounts in order to submit their apps for approval to the store. Apple usually requires anybody who is submitting an app for approval to register as a developer, which requires an upfront fee of $99. This is an added expense that some businesses may have a hard time ponying up. Fortunately, Apple has announced that they will waive this developer fee for non-profits and government agencies in the United States to make things easier. Still, small for-profit businesses and similar organizations will need to come up with the $99 fee and go through the hassle of creating their account.
From there, businesses face the logistical challenges of setting up and becoming familiar with their developer accounts. They will need to learn how to submit their apps for approval, write descriptions for their apps and manage feedback from users who have downloaded and rated their apps. This can be a time-consuming and complex responsibility that small businesses may not have the resources to easily handle.
What Event Planners Need to Know
If you’re looking to create your own event app for an upcoming trade show, expo or other industry event, you may be wondering what steps you’ll need to take to get your app published with as little hassle as possible.
First, you’ll want to make sure that the app you’re looking to create is actually going to be useful to your event participants in unique ways; in other words, if your app is basically going to be a templated version of your event website, you’re probably better off not creating an app in the first place.
Next, consider using an event app service, such as Expo Pass, to streamline the process as much as possible. At Expo Pass, you can easily create a unique, customized event content that provides useful features to your participants, including:
Meanwhile, the customized nature of the Expo App will prevent you from having to worry about these often-confusing and seemingly ever-changing app store review guidelines. Expo Pass is an Apple Approved app, giving you the added peace of mind you need. Expo Pass can even help you by saving you time and hassle, so you can focus on more important things (like preparing for your event).
While these recent revisions to Apple’s review guidelines are certainly more in favor of small businesses than their original versions, there are still a lot of potential problems to work through. By creating your event app with Expo Pass, you can avoid these issues altogether and end up with a user-friendly, quality app.