Apple is to begin allowing developers that break its App Store rules to appeal company decisions, marking a change in its policy as outside scrutiny of its marketplace ramps up.
Similarly, updates to apps that include minor bug fixes will not be delayed while an appeal is in progress.
The move was prompted by a dispute between Apple and Basecamp, the developer behind email app Hey. Apple had ruled Hey breached App Store rules by only making it possible to buy the app’s $99 annual subscription on a website, and not within the app itself.
Hey said it would never allow so-called in-app purchases, pointing to other apps that do the same such as Netflix. Hey is now offering a two-week free trial inside the app in order to meet Apple’s requirement for apps to “work” immediately on being downloaded.
The feud came at the same time Apple was charged in two major antitrust cases by the European Commission, one of which relates directly to its treatment of third-party developers on its App Store.
Complaints from media apps Spotify and Rakuten argued Apple’s policy of charging a 30 per cent commission on all apps and subscriptions purchased within its App Store is unfair, given Apple also markets its own products through the platform.
Following the rule relaxation from Apple, Basecamp founder and chief technology officer David Heinemeier Hansson tweeted: “This is pretty significant. Apple will no longer ransom your bug fixes, and there’s a new process coming for challenging the guidelines themselves.
“This is of course still Apple policing Apple, but it’s an opening none the less for all developers.”
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement as part of the firm’s developer conference yesterday: “The App Store ecosystem is more diverse, dynamic, and successful than it has ever been, but we know that to make it better for everyone, there is more we must do together.”