Apple updates its App Store Review Guidelines on a regular basis, and while most of these changes won’t noticeably affect the way you use the App Store, there are some that will, including one that 9to5Mac spotted this week. As of the latest update to the guidelines on Wednesday, March 4th, Apple is now allowing developers to use push notifications for advertising purposes, as long as the user explicitly agrees to receive the ads.
Prior to the update, Apple had banned developers from sending ads to iOS device owners through push notifications, but, as you can see in the updated text below, the rules have been changed significantly:
Push Notifications should not be used for promotions or direct marketing purposes unless customers have explicitly opted in to receive them via consent language displayed in your app’s UI, and you provide a method in your app for a user to opt out from receiving such messages. Abuse of these services may result in revocation of your privileges.
Presumably, the “consent language” Apple refers to will look similar to the pop-up that appears the first time you open an app when it asks whether or not you’d like to receive push notifications or allow the app to use your location data. Furthermore, the developer has to provide users with the ability to turn the marketing notifications off, or they risk having their app removed from the App Store altogether and their privileges revoked.
On one hand, no one likes ads, but on the other, there are plenty of use cases where this alteration could be a boon for consumers. For example, the Oculus app on the App Store sends notifications when VR games go on sale, and I have been able to build up my library on a budget. I wouldn’t want Oculus to risk having their app removed from the store for helping me save money, and the same applies to plenty of other apps.
Some of the other notable changes include app and app updates being required to be built in the iOS 13 SDK starting on April 30th, Sign In with Apple needs to be implemented on apps that offer other ways to connect by the same date, and a stricter review process for apps labeled as “dating” and “fortune telling”.