August 1, 2017

Updated App Store Guidelines

First published on August 1, 2017; updated on October 31, 2017 to reflect most recent Apple practices.

The latest App Store Review Guidelines update, affecting the way event apps are submitted to the App Store, has brought a new reality for all event app vendors. The industry-wide change was caused by the introduction of a new clause Apple included in the App Store Policy update: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected”.

The new Apple rules are in effect for all app vendors and no longer allow the submission of white-label/client-branded apps to the App Store.

In this post, we are clarifying the key concepts and explore the consequences and opportunities created by this new policy.

Understanding the key concepts

What is a commercialized template or app generation service? A tool specifically designed to deliver copycat or spam apps, used by developers to capitalize on a trend. One of the most widely recognized example is Clash of Clans – after the quick success of the iOS app, the App Store got flooded with duplicates of this app overnight. In other words, the new App Store Policy is rejecting any apps that is created from a copycat generating service.

What is an event-specific app? A one-shot, single-event app specifically designed and themed to highlight the brand of a specific featured event.

What is a multi-event app? An app container allowing you to instantiate and host multiple events at once within the the same app.

What is a white-label app? An app released by an app developer, which has its app name, icon and splash screen re-branded to reflect another company corporate branding for their own utilization. Also known as: Client-branded apps or branded apps.

What is a universal app? As opposed to a white-label app, it is a generic, vendor-branded app, that includes the functionality to host multiple types of content, accounts, events or functionalities within a single container.

What is an in-app dynamic branding capability? Different events inside the same container can reflect different branding, regardless whether the container is a white-label/client-branded app or a universal app.

App vs. Event – what is the difference? An app is the container installed on your phone or tablet home screen and comes with an icon, an app name and a splash screen. An event lives inside that container, and comes with the event data and functionalities. In summary:

  • An event-specific app does contain only one event
  • A multi-event app can contain one or more events
  • An event-specific app is always a white-label app/client-branded app
  • A multi-event app can be a white-label/client-branded app or a universal app

Why did Apple change its policy?

No one likes spam and Apple is no exception. Apple is cleaning up the App Store by eliminating clone apps that include unnecessary functionalities or perform useless functions, therefore representing scam for Apple marketplace users.

What does this mean for SpotMe customers? (Updated October 31, 2017)

Although the new Apple rules may represent a significant change for all app vendors in the industry, SpotMe has been prepared to offer maximum flexibility to its clients. As a result of the new guidelines:

  1. As they no longer comply with the new Apple guidelines, white-label/client-branded apps will no longer be submitted to the App Store; this is applicable for both event-specific apps and multi-event app containers.
  2. SpotMe will continue to maintain and update all existing apps that have already been accepted and published to the App Store;
  3. SpotMe universal app containers – SpotMe Events, SpotMe Healthcare and SpotMe Learning, are available to all customers at any point in time for deploying their events and engagement workspaces, offering the full set of in-app dynamic branding capabilities. The SpotMe universal app containers offer the same functionality set as white-label/client-branded apps.

SpotMe will be releasing additional universal app containers which will support extended authentication workflows in the near future.

Final considerations

Regardless of Apple future decisions, our vision has been aligned with the universal app model augmented by in-app dynamic branding from day one. Our entire technology stack has been designed with these requirements in mind and are fully supported today in our production release. The SpotMe universal app containers are immediately available for all existing customers, at no extra cost and with zero downtime or migration required.

While Apple has amended its App Store Guidelines a few months ago, SpotMe has been providing universal app/in-app dynamic branding support since 2011. SpotMe has and will continue to offer extensive and flexible branding capabilities and ensure a smooth app delivery process to all our clients.

What actions do I need to take now?

No action is required from you, unless you are currently planning or in the process of publishing a white-label/branded app. Your Account Manager will be contacting you and will guide you through the transition steps and provide further information.

DISCLAIMER: SpotMe is committed to the success of our customers. As compliance with various App Store Policies is crucial for our business, we are providing information regarding the recently updated Apple App Store Guidelines. The above information is not intended as a substitute for legal advice or professional consultation and shall not, in any manner, be regarded as a statement made by SpotMe on behalf of Apple. The above publication is instead offered for informational purposes only. SpotMe makes no assurances regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication. SpotMe expressly disclaims any warranties, liabilities or damages associated with or arising, either directly or indirectly, out of the information provided above. 

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