Apple News+ accused of violating App Store guidelines

Apple News+ accused of violating App Store guidelines

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Apple News+ trial
Some aren't happy with Apple's tactics.
Photo: Apple

Apple has been accused of violating its own App Store guidelines within the new Apple News app.

The Apple News+ signup page is missing a number of important elements that would lead the app to be rejected if it was made by a third-party developer. A former Apple developer says he is surprised the company hasn’t been hit with an “an extremely public lawsuit” for its double standards.

Apple famously imposes strict rules on iOS developers. And if those rules aren’t followed perfectly, an app has no hope of making it into the App Store. But it seems Apple has no problem breaking those rules itself — as it has demonstrated in a number of ways in recent months.

After distributing unwanted push notifications to promote Apple Music and Carpool Karaoke earlier this year — something third-party developers aren’t allowed to do — Apple is now circumventing its own guidelines to attract new subscribers to Apple News+.

Apple News+ would be rejected

Dave DeLong, a former Apple developer who worked for the company for seven years, accuses the updated News app of violating App Store guideline 3.1.2.

More specifically, DeLong explains there is no link to Apple’s privacy policy or support pages on its News+ signup screen. There is also no information on how to cancel a News+ subscription. These are things that would lead to rejection for a third-party iOS developer.

Apple News+ signup screen
The only text you’ll see on the Apple News+ signup screen.
Screenshot: Dave DeLong

The Verge highlights another no-no: “Typically, Apple protects users from recurring fees by requiring developers to make those numbers so large on the screen that it’s painfully obvious what you’re getting into, how often you’ll pay, and how to cancel if you decide you’re not interested anymore.”

Apple’s guidelines for developers state that on subscription signup pages, “the amount that will be billed must be the most prominent pricing element in the layout … This ensures that users are not misled.”

But on the News+ signup page, the price of the subscription is written in the smallest font you see.

‘Huge double standards’

“I’m honestly surprised there hasn’t been an extremely public lawsuit against @apple about the huge #DoubleStandards and inconsistent application of the App Review Guidelines,” DeLong tweeted. “Seems ripe for a class-action lawsuit, IMO.”

“Why won’t Apple follow its own rules?” The Verge asks. It’s a question third-party iOS developers have been asking for years now while just accepting that’s the way it is. But some have started turning against Cupertino.

Spotify recently filed a complaint with European authorities over Apple’s “unfair” and anti-competitive treatment of iOS apps. Kaspersky Labs has also filed an antitrust complaint against Apple’s alleged monopolistic policies in Russia.