New App Store guidelines crack down on iOS ‘virus scanners’, require alternatives to Face ID for under 13’s

Apple has updated its developer app review guidelines for the iPhone and iPad App Store this week with new clauses addressing the appropriate usage of Face ID, ARKit and more.

Apple says that ARKit apps must provide a rich experience; they don’t want the store flooded with simple apps displaying single objects. There are also limits on how developers can use Face ID and a new crackdown on scammy iOS apps like so-called virus scanners …

App review is free to approve and reject pretty much whatever they want but generally the cases are covered by the App Store Review Guidelines document. It serves as an outline defining what kind of iOS apps are allowed on the platform.

This update (via Paul Hudson) includes new wording to address appropriate usage for the new frameworks introduced with iOS, like ARKit and Face ID.

The guidelines say that ARKit apps must offer ‘rich and integrated augmented reality experiences’, suggesting that simple demo and cookie-cutter apps will be rejected. It remains to be seen how strictly the rules will be enforced, of course.

Interestingly, it says that developers using the LocalAuthentication framework to enable Face ID unlock (in the same way apps can already use Touch ID authentication) must offer an alternate method of unlock for children under the age of 13 to use. This is a strange requirement as the API does not give developers raw access to face data, just a signal that the user was successfully authenticated.

There is also new stronger wording regarding banning apps that have misleading functionality. For example, iOS apps that claim to remove viruses and malware from the system are now explicitly called out as not being allowed, as technically there is no way for them to perform those tasks.

Apple now allows apps to offer monetary gifting from person to person without using In-App Purchase (and giving Apple a 30% cut). In order for this to be allowed, the app must make the ‘gift’ optional and give all proceeds to the recipient. The apps are not allowed to take their own commission. This appears to be in response to complaints by WeChat that it must give 30% of user donations to Apple.

There is also a new clause that explicitly calls out apps that ‘facilitate human trafficking and/or the exploitation of children’ are not allowed in the App Store. Obviously, these kind of apps were always illegal anyway, but Apple is making it plain and will notify authorities if such abuse is found.

iOS 11 app updates are starting to roll out to the App Store already. Apps that require iOS 11.0 will be released alongside iOS 11 on Tuesday, September 19.

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Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.