Today, Apple made an announcement saying that they are changing how disputes with regards to their App Store will be handled with third-party developers in two big ways.
The first change they're making is that Apple can appeal any particular violation of the App Store guidelines, and there will be a different process altogether for challenging the specific guideline itself. The second change is that there will be no delays to updates that involve bug fixes or other core functionality over disputes with the App Store.
What Lead To These Changes Going Through?
These changes happened right after the debate between Apple and the developers of the premium email app Hey, Basecamp. Basecamp launched Hey recently as a website where you needed to be invited along with a companion app for iOS. The full launch of Hey is targeted for next month.
Apple approved the app at first, but then they rejected any updates that Basecamp would push, which lit the flames of a high-profile public battle between Apple and Basecamp's co-founders. They feuded over whether Hey was even allowed to be in the App Store with how it is in the first place.
The feud was inconvenient for Apple since it was happening right when there were two European Union antitrust probes that were brought up due to complaints from Apple's rivals such as Spotify.
With this feud, the main argument was whether Basecamp's email app Hey was qualified to be exempted from the rules involving in-app purchases. Basecamp excluded in-app purchases from their app since they didn't want to give Apple the App Store revenue share they would have owed. Apple claimed that Basecamp's email service's companion iOS app violated three guidelines of the App Store by not letting you sign up to or buy access to Hey from the iOS app.
Basecamp stated that Apple was being greedy and inconsistent since numerous apps were qualified for exemptions to bypassing the in-app purchase guideline for a long time.
This resulted in an outcry that had a risk of taking the spotlight from Apple's annual WWDC virtual event, which started recently with a keynote address that featured major announcements like macOS Big Sur and iOS 14.
Calming Down The Flames Of App Developers
Apple attempted to calm the feud down by explaining its reasoning in a formal letter written by the App Review Board, which they directed at Basecamp and numerous media organizations. Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, conducted interviews with many press members.
This Monday, before the Apple WWDC keynote, gave in and allowed Basecamp to push Hey updates only after a compromise where they let you sign up for a temporary account which expires after 14 days. However, it isn't clear if this will be enough for Apple or if Basecamp needs to change something in the future. Basecamp still hasn't implemented any in-app purchases in Hey.
No matter how the fight is going, the App Store's two major changes will definitely help app developers in the future. It will be easier to appeal to Apple's decisions thanks to the changes without being worried about getting denied or having app updates delayed.
Apple has approved HEY for iOS 1.0.2 without IAP!! We’ve submitted 1.0.3 for final, definitive approval with a new free option and HEY for Work. SO NOW WE WAIT. CAN THIS STAND-OFF END IN A TRUCE? https://t.co/0x0UAYgM80 — DHH (@dhh) June 22, 2020