PBS president says new App Store rules will hurt its educational app


Recode PBS president 1
PBS's Paula Kerger and Yamiche Alcindor.
Screenshot: Recode

Apple’s efforts to limit data sharing on kids’ apps will hurt one of PBS’s educational apps, the broadcaster’s president and CEO has revealed.

Speaking at Recode‘s Code Conference 2019, PBS’s Paula Kerger said the company’s PBS Kids steaming app will be affected by new Apple restrictions. These stop developers of kids’ apps from including third-party ads and analytics tools. These rules will go into effect on September 3.

Apple’s idea is to safeguard kids by stopping apps from gathering data. However, Kerger notes that the rules will stop PBS from being able to track whether content and game features are working. This will make it harder for them to improve apps that are designed as educational tools.

“We’ll have to pull down the apps, and we have millions of kids that are using our apps. So it’s a challenge,” Kerger said. She pointed out that the app is not designed to sell anything to kids.

The challenges of App Store rules

This example is just one of the challenges Apple has to deal with as it hones App Store rules to improve user experiences.

Previously, Apple was accused of trying to hurt competitors by restricting apps which help parents monitor or limit their kids’ use of devices. The company was accused of doing this to damage rivals at a time it was introducing its own Screen Time features.

In the case of the PRS controversy, it’s easy to sympathize with both parties. Right from the start, Apple has tried to make the App Store a family-friendly, safe experience for users. This necessitates rules to restrict the practices of developers. That’s especially crucial when the apps in question are designed for kids.

As Paula Kerger notes, however, those good intentions also have the potential to backfire. Given Apple’s attempts to promote its devices, particularly the iPad, as tools for education, these latest rules could therefore pose a big problem.


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