Apple has announced a few meaningful changes to its App Store policies. While Apple has been involved in a number of App Store policy controversies lately, from the Hey email app, to Microsoft's xCloud service, to the big Epic Games fight, the changes announced today are not in response to those criticism nor meant to settle those disputes.
First announced back at WWDC in June, Apple has now made three significant changes to its App Store policies and procedures:
1. A bug fix update will no longer be held up over guideline violations, except for those related to legal issues. A developer can push out a bugfix-only update to its customers while it works to resolve whatever App Store policy guidelines it needs to.
2. Apple's decisions about whether an app violates App Store guidelines is notoriously one-sided. Apple makes a decision, and that's that. Now, developers have a process to appeal Apple's decisions on guideline violations if they think that Apple is in error.
3. Developers can suggest changes to the App Store guidelines, whether they have been found in violation of them or not.
These are welcome changes but not unexpected—they were revealed at WWDC in June. Recent critics of the way Apple manages its App Store are unlikely to be mollified by them.
Here is Apple's complete statement on the changes:
The App Store is dedicated to providing a great experience for everyone. To continue offering a safe place for users to download apps and helping you successfully develop apps that are secure, high-quality, reliable, and respectful of user privacy, we’ve updated the app review process as announced at WWDC20. For apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes will no longer be delayed over guideline violations except for those related to legal issues. You’ll instead be able to address guideline violations in your next submission. And now, in addition to appealing decisions about whether an app violates guidelines, you can suggest changes to the guidelines. We also encourage you to submit your App Store and Apple development platform suggestions so we can continue to improve experiences for the developer community.