Apple has revised its App Store guidelines on template-based apps, TechCrunch reports, providing much-needed clarity and a more balanced approach following a report earlier this month that many small businesses were being pushed off the App Store. Apple’s guidelines were intended to reduce the number of low-quality apps and “spam” apps that provide little functionality for users, but the hardline approach banning template apps outright ended up affecting a wider market of small businesses and non-profit organizations that relied on third-party app development houses to gain a legitimate presence on the App Store.
Apple has revised its section 4.2.6 App Store guideline, which previously read simply that “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected,” adding that template apps will be accepted on the App Store provided that they are “submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content” rather than by a third-party app development house. The new section 4.2.6 also goes on to add that third-party template developers should “offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.” The new wording suggests that while small businesses and non-profit organizations should take responsibility for the publishing and distribution of their own apps through their own App Store Developer account, they are still free to use the services of third-party developers of generic template-based apps to create the app itself, although Apple has clearly left the door open to rejecting templated apps that are too “cookie-cutter.”
The new guideline of course also means that small businesses and non-profit organizations that have relied on third-party app developers to publish their apps in the past will now need to go through the process of signing up for their own Apple Developer accounts and more actively participate in the app publishing process, however Apple has noted that it will be waiving the usual $99 developer fee for all government and nonprofit organizations, starting first in the U.S., in order to provide a smoother transition.