Last week, we talked about two issues that Apple was involved in – both related to App Store, apps targeted at children and usage control apps that compete with iOS’s own Usage Time. We have news in both cases.
Following the rumor that Apple would tighten restrictions on children’s apps distributed on the App Store, Apple confirmed speculation just yesterday, shortly after WWDC19 opened. The company has published a series of updates to its app store guidelines, the most significant of which provides the following direction:
Guidelines 1.3 and 5.1.4. To keep children’s data safe, apps in the “Kids” category and apps aimed at kids cannot include third-party advertising or analytics software and cannot transmit data to other parties. This guideline is applied immediately to new apps. Existing apps are required to follow it from September 3, 2019.
With this, Apple ensures that the “Children’s” category of the store is even more protected from the overwhelming influence of trackers and data analyzers – which will certainly represent a unique marketing opportunity for parents and guardians of children using iPhones and iPads. On the other hand, developers will have to move around to find ways to generate money from their applications without breaking the rules.
It will be interesting to see the reaction of the developer community to the announcement.
Usage control apps come back
The second issue also has to do with updating the guidelines on the App Store – more specifically, with the new clause below:
Guideline 5.5. As the MDM [[Mobile Device Management, enterprise device management tool]gives access to sensitive data, MDM apps must request manageability on the mobile device and can only be offered by companies and institutions, such as commercial, educational or government organizations – and, in limited cases, companies using MDM for parental control. MDM apps cannot sell, use or make data available to third parties under any circumstances, and they must commit to this in their privacy policies.
With the phrase highlighted above, Apple effectively allowed several usage control apps to return to the App Store – apps like FamilyTime or OurPact, which had recently been removed in a move that sparked criticism of Apple and the suspicion that the company was promoting a “witch hunt” for services that compete with their native Time of Use feature.
Now, the controversy is partially resolved. The apps in question may return to using MDM to offer the control and usage limit tools, but on the other hand, Apple has not released the API requested by the developers – which would allow them to give up MDM as a whole and build their tools based on native iOS features.
Well… at least it’s better than nothing, right?