Apple revised its App Store guidelines on Friday ahead of the release of iOS 14, the latest version of the iPhone operating system, which is expected later this month.
Apple employees use these guidelines to approve or reject apps and updates in the App Store. These rules have been scrutinized in depth by app makers over the past few weeks, who argue that the iPhone maker has too much control over what software iPhones run and how Apple cuts payments on those apps. In particular, Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, is in a bitter legal battle with Apple over some of its policies, including the requirement to use in-app purchases for digital products. Apple removed Fortnite from its app store last month.
An important update on Friday concerns game streaming services. Microsoft and Facebook have publicly stated in recent months that Apple̵
According to Apple, game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud are explicitly allowed. However, there are conditions: The games offered in the service must be downloaded directly from the App Store, not from an all-in-one app. App manufacturers are allowed to publish a so-called “catalog app” that refers to other games in the service. However, each game has to be an individual app.
Apple’s rules state that if a streaming game service contains 100 games, each of these games needs an individual app store listing as well as a developer relationship with Apple. The individual games must also have some basic functionality when they are downloaded. All games and stores must offer in-app purchases through Apple’s payment processing system, which Apple typically makes 30% of sales.
The rules underscore the tension between Apple’s control of its platform, which is done for security reasons, and new game services, which are viewed by many as the future of the gaming industry. Gaming streaming services want to act as a platform for game manufacturers, e.g. B. the approval of individual games and the decision which games should be offered. However, Apple wants the streaming services to look more like a bunch of games, and says that every single game needs to be checked.
Apple doesn’t have a cloud gaming service, but they do sell a subscription package of iOS games called Apple Arcade.
Another change affects in-person courses purchased in an iPhone app. This spring, amid the pandemic, several companies that previously allowed users to book personal products like Classpass offered virtual courses. According to Apple’s rules, virtual classes were previously required to use Apple’s in-app payment process.
According to Apple’s new guidelines, virtual one-to-one lessons such as fitness training can bypass Apple for a fee. However, classes where one instructor teaches more than one class with multiple people still require apps to use Apple’s in-app purchases.
Apple also addressed an issue raised by companies like WordPress and Hey, easing the requirement that free apps must use in-app purchases.
A full log of changes in the App Store can be found on the Apple website.