As promised in July, Apple has today made some notable changes to the app review and feedback process used by app developers for the technology giant’s operating systems.
Apple released a message today to one of the developer portals that the app review team will no longer hold important bug fixes to already published apps when these apps are locked in a dispute over non-bug fixes. However, you will instead be able to resolve policy violations in your next post.
The driving force behind this change seems to have been the public battle between major app developer Basecamp and Apple over Basecamp’s recently launched email app Hi. Basecamp then claimed that Apple kept an important bug fix in the middle back and forth between the two companies about how Hey handled in-app purchases.
This change not only ensures that developers will be able to squash bugs that affect users, even though there is a continuous disagreement with Cupertino, but also that Apple will have a little less bad pressure to do what they did during the Hey controversy.
In addition, Apple has created a new feedback form option where members of the developer program can “suggest changes” to the app review guidelines. Here is the full text of Apple’s note to developers today:
The App Store is dedicated to providing a great experience for everyone. To continue to provide a safe place for users to download apps and help you successfully develop apps that are secure, high quality, reliable and respectful of users’ privacy, we have updated the app review process as announced at WWDC20. For apps already in the App Store, bug fixes are no longer delayed due to policy violations, except for those related to legal issues. You can instead report a breach of the guidelines in the next submission. And now, in addition to appealing decisions about an app violating the policy, you can propose changes to the policy. We encourage you to submit App Store and Apple development platform suggestions so that we can continue to improve the experiences for the developer community.
The link goes to the same “Contact the app review team” page that developers use to inquire about the status of an app or appeal a bounce, but it now includes a drop-down option labeled “suggest a policy change.” From there, developers can choose a specific guideline to challenge – such as 3.1.1 In-app purchases – and enter suggestions.
That said, Apple has not said how it can act on this feedback, only that they accept it. Probably the company – which is under significant pressure from shareholders to compensate for reducing iPhone sales with service revenue – is unlikely to change the rules of in-app purchases or much else just because some developers gave that feedback. We have to wait and see what, if any, developments happen from here.
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