Apple Revamps App Store Guidelines, Sets New Rules for Remote Mirroring Apps Like Steam Link

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Alongside the debut of iOS 12, which is available to developers for beta testing as of today, Apple has introduced new App Store Guidelines.

There are several tweaks that have been made to the App Store Guidelines, and one notable change appears to have been introduced specifically because of the Steam Link debacle that saw Apple approve and then renege on the Steam Link app for iOS.

A new guideline, 4.2.7, says that all Remote Application Mirroring apps, such as Steam Link, must comply with a specific set of rules. Such apps are not allowed to offer a user interface that resembles an App Store view or a store-like interface, nor can they include the ability to purchase software not already owned by the user. Apple is allowing transactions to be made by remote mirroring apps, as long as purchases are made on the host device rather than the iOS device.
The UI appearing on the client does not resemble an iOS or App Store view, does not provide a store-like interface, or include the ability to browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user. For the sake of clarity, transactions taking place within mirrored software do not need to use in-app purchase, provided the transactions are processed on the host device.
With the clarification of Apple's stance on games streamed from a PC or Mac, the Steam Link app may be able to launch on iOS devices after all. Valve has not yet commented on the policy changes, and it's not clear what Valve will need to tweak to comply with the new rules.

There are multiple other changes to the App Store Guidelines. A modified 3.1.1 rule, for example, says that non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period using a free in-app purchase option that temporarily unlocks app functionality. This will allow all apps in the App Store to offer free trials, rather than just subscription apps.

Apps that offer auto-renewing subscriptions, meanwhile, are prohibited from attempting to trick users into purchasing a subscription under false pretenses or engaging in bait-and-switch practices. Such apps will be removed from the App Store.

Apps are no longer allowed to encourage users to disable Wi-Fi, turn off certain security features, and make other modifications to system settings that are unrelated to the core functionality of an app.

All apps (including third-party ads) are now forbidden from running unrelated background processes like cryptocurrency mining.

A new rule, 2.3.12, states that all apps are required to "clearly describe" new features and product changes in their "What's New" text. Apps can continue to use generic descriptions for bug fixes, security updates, and performance improvements, but anything more significant must be listed in the notes.

Apps are also now required to obtain explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording or making a record of user activity, and there's a new rule that says apps can use Unicode characters that render as Apple emojis within apps and app metadata, a change from earlier this year when some apps were rejected for using emojis in their App Store descriptions. Emojis can't be embedded directly into an app binary, however.

There are many other smaller guideline changes concerning content ratings, iCloud documents, data security, cryptocurrency, and more, with the full list of App Store Guidelines available on Apple's website.

Article Link: Apple Revamps App Store Guidelines, Sets New Rules for Remote Mirroring Apps Like Steam Link
 

macduke

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Jun 27, 2007
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Sounds like a good overal set of rule changes. And I can see why they wouldn’t want to confuse users or eventually have a competing platform setup a completely virtualized app environment on iOS and have iOS act as the dummy host. Hopefully Valve is able to sort this out now and we can play with this new app!
 

Cosmosent

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Apr 20, 2016
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--->>> THIS ISSUE IS AN EXTREMELY BIG DEAL ! <<<---

RE: "A modified 3.1.1 rule, for example, says that non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period using a free in-app purchase option that temporarily unlocks app functionality. This will allow all apps in the App Store to offer free trials, rather than just subscription apps."

First, thanks for catching that ! ... I missed it when I Reviewed the updated Guidelines earlier.

Second, this is the SINGLE BIGGEST issue to come out of the WWDC ! ... the significance of this should NOT be under-estimated by anyone ! ... it is HUGE !!!
 

hlevolve

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Aug 19, 2014
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This I really like. All of it sounds like changes for the better and I really like the one about including actual changes being listed for app updates. I read all of this nearly every time I update every app I have and I can’t stand it when I run into the apps that have the same generic descriptions every time or a bunch of mumbo jumbo that doesn’t apply to the update.
 

Kaibelf

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No complaints about these rules, and clearly they are far more restrained than Apple was accused of by both Valve and many on various forums. I wonder if any retractions will be forthcoming.
 

PastaPrimav

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Nov 6, 2017
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Good.

I made this exact point last week during the debacle about "What's the difference between a remote app with a local UI for purchasing, and a local app with local UI for purchasing?" and of course got downvoted to oblivion on Reddit.

Well turns out Apple agrees the answer is: "not enough", and has thus put this rule in place. Makes perfect sense, and hopefully we'll see Steam Link back soon without their ham handed approach at bypassing In-App purchasing rules.
 

69Mustang

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Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
No complaints about these rules, and clearly they are far more restrained than Apple was accused of by both Valve and many on various forums. I wonder if any retractions will be forthcoming.
Aren't these new rules though? Whatever others were complaining about has nothing to do with the new rules. So what other reaction would one have besides being happy the app store has new guidelines that should be amenable to all? This is a win/win.
 

bmac89

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Aug 3, 2014
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A modified 3.1.1 rule, for example, says that non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period using a free in-app purchase option that temporarily unlocks app functionality. This will allow all apps in the App Store to offer free trials, rather than just subscription apps.
Wouldn’t this free trial method only apply to in app purchases or apps which are free already but require IAP to unlock full features?
From that description it seems you wouldn’t be able to have a free trial of a paid app unless the developer also releases a free version of the app or am I missing something?

I certainly hope free trials become a common practice.
 

Kaibelf

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Aren't these new rules though? Whatever others were complaining about has nothing to do with the new rules. So what other reaction would one have besides being happy the app store has new guidelines that should be amenable to all? This is a win/win.
They made some pretty serious accusations about why Apple blocked the app in the first place, and it turns out they were.... I’ll be generous... misinformed.
 
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CarlJ

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A new rule, 2.3.12, states that all apps are required to "clearly describe" new features and product changes in their "What's New" text.
I hope they enforce this - I'm pretty sick and tired of the boilerplate "because we do 2-week sprints in our agile development process, and thus release updates every two weeks, we somehow feel justified in merely pointing out that we release often, and don't feel the need to actually tell you what changed." It's like a non-sequitur. And it's annoying. Just give us a few hints about what changed.
 

ersan191

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Oct 26, 2013
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I hope they enforce this - I'm pretty sick and tired of the boilerplate "because we do 2-week sprints in our agile development process, and thus release updates every two weeks, we somehow feel justified in merely pointing out that we release often, and don't feel the need to actually tell you what changed." It's like a non-sequitur. And it's annoying. Just give us a few hints about what changed.
Yes please - this really needs to be enforced even though it probably can't be. They should close the "bugfix" and "security update" loophole too.
 

omglolbbq

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Oct 31, 2016
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I hope they enforce this - I'm pretty sick and tired of the boilerplate "because we do 2-week sprints in our agile development process, and thus release updates every two weeks, we somehow feel justified in merely pointing out that we release often, and don't feel the need to actually tell you what changed." It's like a non-sequitur. And it's annoying. Just give us a few hints about what changed.
Couldn’t agree more. The update notes is also not a place for developers to to post their stupid poems and jokes. Just tell me in a simple dot point form what’s changed.
 

mazz0

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Mar 23, 2011
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The UI appearing on the client does not resemble an iOS or App Store view, does not provide a store-like interface, or include the ability to browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user. For the sake of clarity, transactions taking place within mirrored software do not need to use in-app purchase, provided the transactions are processed on the host device.
Am I being thick, or does this not increase clarity at all? The first half seems to say no store (in the UI appearing on the client, which is where it appears when it's mirrored), then second half seems to say it's OK if it's processed on the host. We're talking about a mirrored UI, meaning it's processed on the host but displayed on the client. So is it OK or isn't it?
[doublepost=1528196210][/doublepost]
A modified 3.1.1 rule, for example, says that non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period using a free in-app purchase option that temporarily unlocks app functionality. This will allow all apps in the App Store to offer free trials, rather than just subscription apps.
This is a crap solution! It still means that actually buying the app happens as an IAP, meaning the price displayed in the App Store isn't the actual price of the app. Am I alone in thinking the most user friendly solution is for the App Store to display the true, full price, on the buy button, along with a Free Trial button?
 

bmac89

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Aug 3, 2014
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This is a crap solution! It still means that actually buying the app happens as an IAP, meaning the price displayed in the App Store isn't the actual price of the app. Am I alone in thinking the most user friendly solution is for the App Store to display the true, full price, on the buy button, along with a Free Trial button?
This is my thought also. I really hope this is not how free trials are implemented.

Wouldn’t this free trial method only apply to in app purchases or apps which are free already but require IAP to unlock full features?
From that description it seems you wouldn’t be able to have a free trial of a paid app unless the developer also releases a free version of the app or am I missing something?

I certainly hope free trials become a common practice.
 

BuddyRich

macrumors member
Mar 21, 2012
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Am I the only one that thinks the 4.2.7 guideline kinda contradicts itself or am I not interpreting it right? According to d) You can't have a Store like GUI but transactions within a mirrored software are OK as long as they are processed on the host PC? How can you have a transaction without a GUI to transact it?

Also does b) mean that Steam Link can't use mFI controller functionality (is the controller input an API?) Strictly speaking iIts not functionality that is needed to stream the remote desktop (interact with, yes... though you could use on screen controls).

All in all though I hope this means Steam Link will come to iOS. Though Valve supposedly disabled the store for the iOS steam link app so Im not sure which of these guidelines they ran afoul of initially.
 
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mazz0

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Am I the only one that thinks the 4.2.7 guideline kinda contradicts itself or am I not interpreting it right? According to d) You can't have a Store like GUI but transactions within a mirrored software are OK as long as they are processed on the host PC? How can you have a transaction without a GUI to transact it?
Nope, I agree - seems entirely contradictory.

All in all though I hope this means Steam Link will come to iOS. Though Valve supposedly disabled the store for the iOS steam link app so Im not sure which of these guidelines they ran afoul of initially.
Did they? Huh, I figured that was probably why they were blocked. Where did you hear that they'd removed it?
 

vh1

macrumors newbie
Oct 30, 2007
8
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4.2.7 does seem to contradict itself. At first it's like they're saying "don't mimic the iOS App Store", but then they have a blanket "or store like interface". Then they say in app purchases aren't needed if processed on the remote machine, which is a given with software that mirrors a remote machine. But how does the user even get to purchase something if they can't be presented with a "store like interface?

Anyways, this whole Steam Link mess and the crippled controller support have got me looking at Android. Who knew supporting controllers you already support on your laptops and desktops could be so difficult.
 

BuddyRich

macrumors member
Mar 21, 2012
85
26
Nope, I agree - seems entirely contradictory.



Did they? Huh, I figured that was probably why they were blocked. Where did you hear that they'd removed it?
There was mention of it in a Reuters report on a story on the initial app rejection.

"Lombardi said Steam disabled purchasing in its iOS app but did not elaborate on how the change was made."

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-apple-steam/apple-blocks-steams-plan-to-extend-its-video-games-to-iphones-idUKKCN1IQ09D
 

mindsaspire

macrumors member
Jun 21, 2013
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Am I being thick, or does this not increase clarity at all? The first half seems to say no store (in the UI appearing on the client, which is where it appears when it's mirrored), then second half seems to say it's OK if it's processed on the host. We're talking about a mirrored UI, meaning it's processed on the host but displayed on the client. So is it OK or isn't it?
My interpretation is that the first sentence pertains to the client/iOS app itself, while the second sentence pertains only to the host machine. By "UI appearing on the client", I think that means that the iOS app itself cannot have a way to directly purchase or select already-purchased software. So an iOS app can't load a table of Steam games for instance. This would exclude using both iOS's native table and web views for displaying Steam games as both UI elements are generated on the client side. From the second sentence, I think that this means you can access a Steam game if the Steam app itself or a browser are what's being mirrored as that UI is generated on the host side. Yes, perhaps technically this is "UI appearing on the client", but it's not UI generated by the client--from the client's perspective, it's just content being mirrored.
 
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Zelmung

macrumors member
Sep 24, 2014
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--->>> THIS ISSUE IS AN EXTREMELY BIG DEAL ! <<<---

RE: "A modified 3.1.1 rule, for example, says that non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period using a free in-app purchase option that temporarily unlocks app functionality. This will allow all apps in the App Store to offer free trials, rather than just subscription apps."

First, thanks for catching that ! ... I missed it when I Reviewed the updated Guidelines earlier.

Second, this is the SINGLE BIGGEST issue to come out of the WWDC ! ... the significance of this should NOT be under-estimated by anyone ! ... it is HUGE !!!
I'm not understanding the significance of this. Can you give me an example of when this would be useful or valuable to either a developer or a consumer?
 

mindsaspire

macrumors member
Jun 21, 2013
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I'm not understanding the significance of this. Can you give me an example of when this would be useful or valuable to either a developer or a consumer?
Try before you buy. Customers can see if they like an app and its extra features before paying, and developers don’t have to deal with as many unhappy customers and negative reviews due to mismatched expectations.
 

cube

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May 10, 2004
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Am I the only one that thinks the 4.2.7 guideline kinda contradicts itself or am I not interpreting it right? According to d) You can't have a Store like GUI but transactions within a mirrored software are OK as long as they are processed on the host PC? How can you have a transaction without a GUI to transact it?
The GUI would be running on the host, not the app.

Similar to transactions in a web browser.

But the Steam client for desktops is a browser, so the Steam app for iOS (not Link) could also be in the clear (you can't install apps on the device).

From there, it would be just a step in reasoning to integrate both apps into one.
 
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