Apple will let developers appeal unfair or biased app removals
Apple hosted its second virtual WWDC event yesterday and announced changes coming to the Apple ecosystem with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, macOS 12, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15. Besides these changes for the users, the keynote also had announcements for the developers. Announcements about allowing app development on the iPad and new APIs were complemented by new changes to its App Store review policies and guidelines. Now, developers will be able to appeal against app rejections citing unfair treatment.
In its recent updates to the App Store review guidelines, Apple announced developers will be able to challenge the company’s decision to reject a new app submission or update if they believe the decision is backed by a political or any other form of bias. Developers will be able to cite this reason while appealing against an app rejection in the App Review contact form. The changes also allow developers to appeal against other apps that may have a safety concern or violate Apple’s guidelines.
These announcements appear to spawn from the changes announced by Apple during last year’s WWDC to encourage developers to share more feedback. Last year, Apple had announced that besides being able to challenge rejections and takedowns, developers will be able to question the guideline behind the rejection too. It also promised to add direct communication channels and forums for developers to discourse over relevant guidelines and to share their feedback with Apple representatives.
Notably, while Apple may appear pro-developers, it may not exactly be very flexible with certain guidelines, especially if they involve an opportunity to make money. Since last year, Apple has been embroiled in conflict with noted developers including the Fortnite creator, Epic Games, and Spotify over the standard 30% commission on in-app purchases. Retaliating to Epic’s protest in the form of bypassing in-app purchases, Apple kicked Fortnite off the App Store and basically banished it from iOS. While Apple eventually cut the commission rate to 15% for small developers, big ones still have to pay the full 30% despite the protest. The dissent continues in form of a legal battle between Apple and Epic Games and several anti-monopoly charges against the former in Europe. We have yet to see the final outcome but it does not look like either party is ready to budge.