Apple releases updated App Store rules, Microsoft’s Project xCloud streaming app may get rejected

Apple yesterday released the updated App Store Review Guidelines. Developers should follow the App Store Review Guidelines in order to get their app published in the App Store.
As the App Store is the only way through which consumers can download apps to their iOS devices, developers had to follow the App Store rules set by Apple.

Among the updated guidelines, section 4.2.7 caught my attention. Apple now allows remote desktop clients for game consoles owned by the user.
Software appearing in the client must be fully executed on the host device. Steam Link app is a great example, games will be streamed from Steam console to your iOS device.
While Steam Link is now allowed in App Store, what about cloud-based game streaming services like Microsoft’s Project xCloud or Google’s Stadia? They are more likely to get rejected if they don’t follow any one of the below rules.

  • (a) The app must only connect to a user-owned host device that is a personal computer or dedicated game console owned by the user, and both the host device and client must be connected on a local and LAN-based network.
  • (b) Any software or services appearing in the client are fully executed on the host device, rendered on the screen of the host device, and may not use APIs or platform features beyond what is required to stream the Remote Desktop.
  • (c) All account creation and management must be initiated from the host device.
  • (d) The UI appearing on the client does not resemble an iOS or App Store view, does not provide a store-like interface, or include the ability to browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user. For the sake of clarity, transactions taking place within mirrored software do not need to use in-app purchase, provided the transactions are processed on the host device.

Basically, Apple won’t even allow xCloud or Stadia services to display a list of games that can be purchased for streaming. My guess is that Apple will bend the rules for Microsoft and Google as they can’t afford to lose huge amount of subscription money. Imagine millions of subscribers paying $20 per month to Microsoft and Google, Apple can potentially earn $6 per month per user for just allowing these apps in App Store.

You can read about the other changes to App Store Review Guidelines below.

  • Guidelines 1.3 and 5.1.4. In order to help keep kids’ data private, apps in the kids category and apps intended for kids cannot include third-party advertising or analytics software and may not transmit data to third parties. This guideline is now enforced for new apps. Existing apps must follow this guideline by September 3, 2019.
  • Guideline 4.7. HTML5 games distributed in apps may not provide access to real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations, and may not support digital commerce. This functionality is only appropriate for code that’s embedded in the binary and can be reviewed by Apple. This guideline is now enforced for new apps. Existing apps must follow this guideline by September 3, 2019.
  • Guideline 5.4. Because VPN provides access to sensitive data, VPN apps may not sell, use, or disclose to third parties any data for any purpose, and must commit to this in their privacy policy. Certain types of apps — such as those for parental control, content blocking, and security — from approved providers may use the NEVPNManager API.
  • Guideline 5.5. (New) Because MDM provides access to sensitive data, MDM apps must request the mobile device management capability, and may only be offered by commercial enterprises, such as business organizations, educational institutions, or government agencies, and, in limited cases, companies utilizing MDM for parental controls. MDM apps may not sell, use, or disclose to third parties any data for any purpose, and must commit to this in their privacy policy.
  • Guideline 5.1.3(i). Apps may use a user’s health or fitness data to provide a benefit directly to that user, such as a reduced insurance premium, if the app is submitted by the entity providing the benefit and the data is not shared with a third party. The developer must also disclose to the user the specific health data collected from the device.
  • Guideline 5.1.1(vii) (New). Apps that compile information from any source that is not directly from the user or without the user’s explicit consent, even public databases, are not permitted on the App Store.
  • Guideline 5.1.1(i). Apps must get consent for data collection, even if the data is considered anonymous at the time of or immediately following collection.
  • Guideline 1.1.3. Apps may not facilitate purchase of ammunition.
  • Guideline 4.2.7. Remote desktop clients now include game consoles owned by the user. Software appearing in the client must be fully executed on the host device.
  • Demo videos of app functionality that is geo-locked or otherwise restricted are not accepted. Developers must provide a fully functional app for review.
  • Sign In with Apple will be available for beta testing this summer. It will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in when it is commercially available later this year.

Source: Apple

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