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Apple’s updated store review guidelines arrive with new NFT rules, social media boosts and more

Alongside rolling its much anticipated iOS 16.1, iPadOS 16.1 and macOS Venture updates, Apple has also updated its App Store review guidelines limiting what apps can do with NFTs, a requirement to use Apple’s in-store payment method for social media boosts and making the process easier for reviewers. 

The new guidelines also give Apple the power to suspend crypto marketplace apps in a particular region if it deems them in violation of local licenses. The App Store’s Objectionable Content section will now get hookup apps or apps that profit from current events involving violence, terrorist attacks or epidemics. 

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Changes for NFT and Crypto apps

Perhaps the most significant of changes comes to NFT and Crypto apps. As mentioned before, the App Store now limits what apps can do with NFTs. While apps are allowed to list, mint, transfer and let users view their own NFTs, NFT ownership can’t unlock additional features within the app anymore. 

Additionally, while users can browse other NFT collections, apps can’t show calls to action, buttons or any external links whatsoever. Users will also have to purchase NFTs using Apple’s in-app payment system, meaning Apple will now get a cut out of NFT sales on its ecosystem instead of outright banning the concept, as many anticipated. 

Photo by Sashkin/Shutterstock.com
NFT apps can’t offer exclusive features based on NFT ownership.| Photo by Sashkin/Shutterstock.com

Apps are also prohibited from using other options like QR codes or cryptocurrencies to give users special access. Speaking of cryptocurrencies, Apple is also cracking down on illegal crypto exchanges by forcing them to acquire the required licenses and permissions to run a crypto exchange for a particular reason. The app can be removed from the App Store if it’s found in violation of these rules. 

Buy social media boost from Apple now

While the new rules do not force apps to use in-app purchases for purchasing or managing social media campaigns across media types, including TV and external marketing, apps will have to use the in-app purchase system for selling boosts for social media posts. 

Apps like the ones from Meta, Tinder, Bumble and TikTok offer boosts that make your profile or posts more visible to the target audience as determined by the app itself. Apple getting a cut in these prices can potentially mean they’ll go up, at least inside the Apple ecosystem. 

An easy process for reviewers

Not all new rules are bad news for developers or users, however. Apple is now requiring apps to provide full access with demo accounts or modes to make the process easier for reviewers and get them no-hassle access to account-based features of an app. This will also require the developers to provide any hardware or resources required to fully review the app. 

Apple’s making app reviewing easier with requirements for demo accounts or modes.

In case the developer(s) is unable to provide a demo account due to legal or security obligations, they can include a built-in demo mode in addition to a demo account, provided they get prior approval from Apple. The demo mode will be required to show the app’s full functionality. 

Other changes in the App Store review guidelines include:

  • Hookup apps or apps that might “include pornography or be used to facilitate prostitution or human trafficking and exploitation” and “harmful concepts which capitalize or seek to profit on recent or current events, such as violent conflicts, terrorist attacks, and epidemics” are now classified under the Objectionable Content section of the app store. 
  • Apps or games that use music from iTunes or Apple music as soundtracks or background music to a video or picture collage are prohibited from unauthorised usage. 
  • Apps using the Matter IoT standard are required to use Apple’s support framework to initiate pings to smart home devices. 

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