Following Apple’s recent developer conference, there have been new points added to the App Store Review Guidelines. App developers are constantly in a fix, trying to figure out how Apple may interpret and apply each rule to new apps. Only recently, Apple completely redesigned the App Store to introduce new features.
Now, Apple has previously banned clone apps from being released on the App Store and over the past year has taken down multiple — hundreds of thousands of apps as part of a cleanup of the store. In addition to clones, these apps also include those that are not 64-bit compatible, unused apps that have not been downloaded in years, and spam. It has also disallowed apps from replicating the features of the App Store.
This year, rule 4.2.6 states
Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.
While this sounds relatively acceptable, you should note that several of the app developers use assistance tools like PhoneGap and TapJet. Additionally, Apple itself has a tie-up with IBM in order to build apps for enterprise customers. All of these apps will probably have the same basic features and functions.
Apple has always had a clause in its guidelines that says “do not clone”. This is to dissuade developers form replicating other apps or even just literally copying an app and posting it as theirs after changing its name and images. But, the prevalence of these apps in the App Store has largely increased over the years following the development and easy availability of mass production tools for apps and one click templates.
There are several guidelines surrounding the “templatized” apps as well. A few of these deal with problems associated with apps that try to capitalize on the popularity that comes with new games (like Flappy Bird) that go absolutely viral.
The problem here is that once such an app is released, hundreds of others will try to replicate it and will try to earn as much revenue as possible before being discovered or removed. The same goes for scam apps that make users pay a large subscription fee for pirated content and in this manner, use single bursts of revenue to make money. A perfect example of this is the hundreds of music streaming apps that you’ve probably seen, all copies of each other.
The new guidelines released this year are helping Apple further its cleaning process and allows for a more explicit understanding of the rules.
It is also important to know that Apple is not trying to curb the tools that allow you to customize and publish apps even without being able to write the code. So long as the app in question is original and not cloned, Apple will not touch it.
Also, Apple will probably disallow you from shipping apps for other people on your account. The best way to stay on the good side of the guidelines is by ensuring that every entity is responsible for its own support on the App Store.
While the new guidelines don’t target app creators, they’re certainly intent on shutting down clone factories that operate on the App Store.