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Apple’s new App Store policies apply to streaming game services and in-app purchases

Apple today announced a series of changes to its App Store Review Policy after several major controversies in the App Store over the past few months. The new guidelines and updates cover areas such as in-app purchases, streaming game services, and personal rental applications.

According to Apple, the goal of the new Guidelines 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 is to provide additional transparency about the types of applications required to use Apple’s in-app purchase system. There is one specific clarification regarding in-person experiences that has been scrutinized in the wake of the shift from businesses to virtual classes and experiences amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Apple, developers can use purchase methods other than in-app purchase if an app enables real-time, real-time purchase of personal experiences between two people, e.g. B. Fitness training, medical consultations or property visits. According to Apple, apps that offer one to a few, or one too many, real-time experiences must use in-app purchase.

In the context of in-app purchases, Reader applications may now offer free tier account creation and account management capabilities for existing customers. Free apps that act as a standalone companion to a paid web-based tool like email services and web hosting do not need to use an in-app purchase as long as there is no purchase in the app.

Elsewhere, Apple̵

7;s new guidelines focus heavily on streaming gaming services and formalize expectations for those services if they are to be available on the iPhone and iPad. This should apply to services such as Microsoft’s Xbox streaming gaming platform and Google Stadia, although Apple does not specifically address specific services with these guidelines.

Streaming games are allowed as long as they meet all guidelines. For example, every game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for searching, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, there are always internet and web browser apps open, with all users outside of the App Store can be reached.

Apple explains that each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as a separate application so that it has an App Store product page, appears on charts and in search, and can be integrated with other iOS features and experiences. However, businesses can offer a catalog application that contains links to the App Store versions of all games available through their service.

For example, a company can offer 11 applications in the App Store: 10 games and 1 catalog. The catalog application would link to the 10 games available on the service through the App Store. However, the games and catalog app must adhere to different App Store in-app purchase guidelines. Apple states that streaming game services “must offer users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase”.

Apple says:

  • Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as a single app in order for it to have an App Store product page, display in charts and search, have user ratings and ratings, be managed with ScreenTime, and display other parental control apps become user device etc.
  • Streaming game services may offer a catalog app on the app store that allows users to sign up for the service and find the games in the app store, provided the app follows all guidelines, including the ability to pay for a subscription using in -app Purchase and use Sign in to Apple. All games included in the Catalog App must be linked to a single App Store product page.

The new guidelines for streaming game services come after Microsoft criticized Apple and blamed the company for the decision not to bring its xCloud streaming game service to the iPhone and iPad. The new guidelines formalize Apple’s requirements for the streaming games category and allow companies like Microsoft and Google to integrate their services into the iOS ecosystem, although the in-app purchase system must be used.

While the details are still a bit hazy here, it appears that the game you download from the App Store can essentially be a “wrapper” and the actual game is streamed over your internet connection. Essentially, you’d download the “game” from the App Store, sign in with an existing account or sign in using Apple’s in-app purchase system, and then play the game from the company’s servers.

There are also new guidelines for app clips, a new feature in iOS 14:

App clips, widgets, extensions, and notifications should relate to the content and functionality of your app. In addition, all app clip features and functionality must be in the main app binary. App clips cannot contain advertising.

Finally, Apple is also taking action against applications that offer personal loans. According to Apple, apps that offer personal loans must clearly disclose all loan terms, including details of the maximum annual percentage and the due date. Apps are also not allowed to charge a maximum annual interest rate of more than 36% and may not need to be repaid in full within 60 days or less. According to Apple, these personal loan-related changes are in line with the Military Loans Act.

The full guidelines for reviewing the App Store can be found on Apple’s developer website here.

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