June 23, 2020

Apple lets developers appeal App Store violations following criticism

By Robert Scammell

Apple has announced that it will allow third-party developers to lodge an appeal if their application violates the App Store’s guidelines, as well as make a separate challenge about the guidelines themselves.

In a second change, announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), apps already listed on the App Store will not face delays to fix bugs should a dispute arise. The only exception to this will be if the dispute centres around a legal issue.

Apple has also created additional channels for developers to share feedback “large and small”. The changes will come into force this summer.

The App Store concessions follow Apple’s public dispute with Basecamp, the developer of email app Hey. Apple pulled the plug on an update to Hey, insisting that Basecamp make it possible to purchase an annual subscription to Hey inside of the app.

This would have meant Apple taking a 30% cut, which it makes on all in-app-purchases made via the App Store. Basecamp refused to make the change, with Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson publishing a series of social media and blog posts criticising the technology giant.

App Store stand down “pretty significant”

Apple has come under criticism before from developers for the 30% commission it takes from apps. Last week, the European Commission launched a fresh antitrust investigation into Apple to investigate whether Apple’s controversial commission is anti-competitive.

The very public standoff between Apple and Basecamp threatened to overshadow WWDC, one of Apple’s flagship annual events.

After Apple made the announcement, Heinemeier Hansson tweeted that the move was “pretty significant”.

“This is of course still Apple policing Apple, but it’s an opening none the less for all developers,” he added.

Apple will continue to take a 30% cut of in-app-purchases, which supporters say is warranted because Apple provides developers with a marketplace of more than 1.4 billion devices.

“The App Store ecosystem is more diverse, dynamic, and successful than it has ever been, but we know that to make it better for everyone, there is more we must do together,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

“This year at WWDC20, we’ve added online App Store Labs, extended the annual App Store developer survey, and more because we want to hear directly from hundreds of thousands of developers on how they want us to improve the App Store for them, and for users.”

Read more: Apple faces EU antitrust probe over App Store practices

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