App Store updates allow push notification ads and clamp down on dating and fortune-telling apps

Apple's update to the App Store's guidelines includes some substantial changes.

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Apple tweaked its App Store review guidelines on Wednesday, and as 9to5Mac notes, two of the key updates change how push notifications work, and how dating and prognostication apps are vetted. The updated guidelines are meant to reflect new features available in iOS 13. With the majority of recent iPhones and iPads already running iOS 13, all new apps and updates must be built with Apple’s developer kit by April 30.

Apple used to be less pushy about push notifications — An archived copy of the App Store’s guidelines from January contains some strong feelings about how push notifications should be used. In addition to not being mandatory for an app to function, they “should not be used for advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes or to send sensitive personal or confidential information.” Now, Apple has changed its tune, giving developers more wiggle room:

“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.”

Google’s Play Store only allows ads within an app, but Samsung gets around this policy with its Galaxy store. While Apple’s new guidelines might not allow for the level of notifications Samsung pushes on its users, that's a pretty low bar. This change marks a noticeable softening of the App Store’s usually strict policies. Returning to form, however, the company will also now prohibit custom review notifications — you know, those awful notifications pleading for users to leave a positive review of an app. Instead, developers are obliged to use Apple's official API for less-disruptive, in-app review requests.

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The future looks foggy for fortune-telling apps — Apple has always gotten frustrated with developers piling on in a specific category. In the past, it's specifically called out the proliferation of fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra apps. The current guidelines indicate dating and fortune-telling apps are starting to overwhelm the marketplace and they will be rejected “unless they provide a unique, high-quality experience.” We're curious to see what that looks like and which newcomers get the stamp of approval in the months to come.

Though, considering most of the most popular dating apps are all owned by one company, the policy doesn’t bode well for competition, and hopefuls may become victims of Apple's spring cleaning.