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What is Going On With App Makers and the Apple Store?

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29 Aug 2017

Florian

Note: this article was updated on 29.09.17. We removed some official press statements from app makers as they did not help users at all.

As of June 2017, Apple announced new rules designed to reduce the number of spam and clone apps on their App Store. Section 4.2.6 of their latest guideline clearly states that: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”

apple 4.2.6 guideline

Apple’s new design guideline

 

Unfortunately, most app makers seem to be directly affected by this new rule. While some companies have been very straightforward about their issues, others have been less transparent and there is currently a lot of misinformation online. This is making things very hard for users, and particularly resellers, who submit high volumes of applications to the App Store.

In order to help users understand what is going on, we will gather up to date information on this page. We used to have info about all app makers, but it was not helpful. So below is the news from the only App Makers who have been clear about their way of dealing with the 4.2.6 guideline. 

GoodBarber

On 20th of September 2017, GoodBarber explained the whole situation in detail in this excellent blog post. Here are some of the main points

  • Existing GoodBarber users with iOS apps can still push updates.
  • They have a new review process and pricing at 96$ per month for iOS. It does not guarantee iOS publication, but your fee is refunded if need be.
  • Resellers will be able to submit iOS apps with a developer enterprise account. There is also an extra review fee for the App Store.

BiznessApps

On the 30th of August, BiznessApps confirmed that users can still submit their apps to the App Store. However, they will have to pay an additional $499 fee per iOS app. This is for the costs of an internal review and eventual changes to the app. In the same email, the CEO stated that:

  • the fee is refundable if the app is rejected
  • BiznessApps is still taking on resellers
  • they are in direct contact with Apple.

 

What about the other app makers?

Unfortunately, we cannot comment on any other platforms at the moment. We tried to keep an updated list of unaffected solutions, but it seems to be changing daily. Besides, we cannot test every single solution ourselves. If you have any info, feel free to share it in the comments below.

Is Google’s Play Store affected?

Not at all. As is often the case, it would seem that Apple and Google have very different ways of doing things. The latter is equally affected by “bad apps” but they are sweeping them under the rug rather than destroying an entire side industry.

In contrast to Apple, Google is very strong on search and is able to just remove low-quality apps from their search algorithms. This seems like a much fairer approach to us, one that works quite well for the World Wide Web.

So what happens next?

Unfortunately at this stage the answer is the same for everyone: we don’t know. As you can imagine, Apple’s decision could have a disastrous effect on thousands of small businesses who use drag and drop builders for their apps. There isn’t much to do except wait and see.

However, here are some takeaway points:

  • If you have an iOS app in your pipeline with an unaffected app maker, you should maybe think about rushing the submission. There is no guarantee that your app maker will be able to keep submitting to the App Store forever.
  • Apple has not banned “template apps” retrospectively. This means that your previous iOS apps made with app makers are ok and you should be able to update them.
  • A lot of app makers are focusing their efforts on Progressive Web Apps. This is a way of avoiding these kinds of problems in the future.

Once again, do let us know about information you have regarding this situation as many users are waiting to know what to do next.

  • napcat

    At our company our apps are also being blocked. We are not an “app maker”, and don’t use any “app maker” service, but we have some custom layouts the are used to some types of apps. The content is totally different, the menus are diferente, but the main layout is similar. Our apps are now being blocked by the guideline 4.3 Spam.

    This is a big problem. They rejected our appeal in the new review.

    • Florian (Tooltester Network)

      Hey, thanks for the comment and sorry to hear you’re affected too. Quite a few independent developers have reported the same problem online and it’s very hard to make sense of Apple’s decision at this stage.

      • Vicki

        Everyone, if your apps were removed due to app store’s 4.3 rule, contact me at vickizhang1983@gmail.com. Let’s fight together! Our aim is to make SAIC file the case, then we may have the chance to talk/negotiate with app store and put pressure on app store to adjust its unreasonable 4.3 rule.

    • napcat

      I hope they go back on their decision to block this kind of apps/content.

      This is going to affect a lot of people, small and big companies and also independente developers. We are debating to find a solution with Apple. If anyone knows anything that might help, I appreciate the sharing of information.

      Does anyone have an Apple contact number? Has anyone had an app approved after being blocked?

    • Florian (Tooltester Network)

      Hi – a question popped up on another thread and I was hoping you could answer: what kind of framework does your company use for building apps?

      This is what a user is suggesting:

      “Goodbarber (Web/Hybrid-app with HTML5/JavaScript parts?!) – iOS submissions declined
      ShoutEm (React Native, which converts directly to native Java/Objective-C) – iOS submissions approved”

      What do you think?

      • napcat

        We are using Ionic (HTML5, Angular4.x, SCSS/CSS3, TypeScript/ES5) as our main framework with custom build scripts.

        We were on the phone with an Apple representative. The information they gave us is they don’t want massive use of the same frameworks. Very popular frameworks could be penalized for this if developers don’t think out of the box. If they use the same framework their apps must feel different, have different content and original UI/UX usability (at least of it’s not native, it seams the exception).

        • Florian (Tooltester Network)

          Very useful info – thanks for that!

          • napcat

            To me it looks like a way of censorship… if you are not native you must work harder and be totally different, that’s the price to pay if you go with a popular framework. If you go native, (or your final result is native source code) ok, then, you are good to go…

        • Alexander Potemkin

          Apologize, was Ionic framework outcome was considered to be not good enough?
          We are about to submit an app build with Ionic and that makes me worrying.

        • @napcat:disqus Does your framework uses backend data for App generation in runtime (I mean view and data) or you compile it everytime you have a change?

          • napcat

            At some point, in the build stage, theres some call to our database. But in “runtime”, when the app is running, only the menu could be changed by the backend. If theres new features/views, a new build needs an a publish to the store needs to be done. We don’t implemented code push (or similar) yet.

      • Theodore Batzakas

        We had our apps rejected too. They are written in Obj-C compiled with Xcode.

        • @theodorebatzakas:disqus Have they specified the reason? Our apps have passed successfully. Though we built them with our own platform with Xamarin. I believe anyone who produce true native App could be rejected for other reasons, like bad UI or lack of useful content.

          • Theodore Batzakas

            They stated rules 4.2.6 and 4.3 but we build online ordering apps for restaurants under contract and we thoroughly test them for usability and performance. It’s the first rejection we get.

          • That’s strange. Can you show an example? The thought in my mind are the Apps visually similar? I.e. looks different just in sense of color, etc. so could be treated as clones.

          • Theodore Batzakas

            Of course they look similar in some sense, they are all online ordering apps based on the current online ordering trend. There is a list with the menu items, a thumb of the dish, descriptions, details pages with items, cart, delivery options etc. Also they have different colors, logos, content, and they are targeted to different clients! One in a city in Europe, another in a city in USA etc. If we have 2000 restaurants it’s impossible to come up with 2000 layouts and 2000 codebases for the same thing! Especially with what is needed to maintain and support with the cost at minimum. no?

          • Florian (Tooltester Network)

            As an user suggested on another thread, the types of apps affected the most are: magazine, city apps, radio apps, university apps, event apps, restaurant apps etc.

            It doesn´t change the fact that they will be rejected, even if native. Apparently the Apple suggestion is to create a wrapper with a directory for multiple apps inside. But everyone feels like they’re playing detective without any clear information still.

          • napcat

            Exactly, at some point it’s what is happening. We build a lot of city apps, university and events apps. They all seems to be blocked. The thing is… the clients, at least our clients, don’t want a wrapper app. They want their brand with an exclusive app, they don’t want to be mixed width other competitors. I search the store for my brand, and I find my app is different from: I search an app aggregator in the store and then I search for my brand/business. The apple suggestions does not fit in this market. It’s theirs store, they can make the rules they want, but they are not thinking in the real implications.

          • Var

            Then maybe you could have 1 app with Multi-stores ???

          • Theodore Batzakas

            This means we have to abandon what we do. We are totally against marketplaces because of the way they work and we target separate restaurants that want to have their own native apps. If we are to become a marketplace then we are out of business.

      • Carlos Zinato

        We’re using Axway Titanium (converts to native) and our event apps are being rejected as well. And we also don’t want to have a single app with all events of different types and competitors, this makes no sense at all.

  • Theodore Batzakas

    I believe that most of the affected platforms are legitimate and serious businesses. It’s unfair to fire developers and lose customers because Apple failed to deal with copycats effectively. My personal opinion is to start a petition (maybe with a service that later can be converted to a formal “provisional and protective measures”) document filed against Apple if they don’t remove this rule. I DO understand that they are the owner of a proprietary service like AppStore but we really need to take care of our endeavours and lives.

    • Florian (Tooltester Network)

      Hi, we agree, this is a very heavy handed approach to the problem. A petition sounds like a good start. We found that app makers aren’t exactly likely to cooperate with one another, but if you want to get something started and post it here we’ll let everyone know about it.

      • Vicki

        If your apps were removed due to app store’s 4.3 rule, contact me at vickizhang1983@gmail.com. Let’s fight together! Our aim is to make SAIC file the case, then we may have the chance to talk/negotiate with app store and put pressure on app store to adjust its unreasonable 4.3 rule.

    • napcat

      Would you manage to do something like that? A petition seems good ideia, but don’t know if it will be really affective…
      Another project from my company hit the wall, this time an city app. We are seeing no the lights at the end of the tunnel.

      • Theodore Batzakas

        I will help and support it, but I ‘d prefer to have somebody who’s native language is English and will use it more efficiently write it. Also, I think we should keep it to a minimum feasible, for example to at least ask that the rule is changed to be able to send branded apps that have some interactivity to offer and the by nature are not able to be consolidated or tremendously changed in ui (I really don’t believe that anyone can come up with 2000 different-enough ideas for an online shop for mobile device or a restaurant menu). Also, I don’t know if a site like avaaz or something like that makes sense or if there is any other more serious way to push for such requirements. I am open to ideas.

      • Vicki

        If your apps were removed due to app store’s 4.3 rule, contact me at vickizhang1983@gmail.com. Let’s fight together! Our aim is to make SAIC file the case, then we may have the chance to talk/negotiate with app store and put pressure on app store to adjust its unreasonable 4.3 rule.

  • Gonzalo

    There is a new possibility. Make Casey Neistat hear about this. If he makes a video (he would probably understand and talk about the situation) everyone would new about this. Any thoughts?

  • Gonzalo

    There is a new possibility. Make Casey Neistat hear about this. If he makes a video (he would probably understand and talk about the situation) everyone would knew about this. Any thoughts?

  • Alessandro Aureli

    Hi, any updates ? Goodbarber status quo since 22 Aug

    • Hi Alessandro, unfortunately we don’t have any more recent updates either. Looks like they are still waiting for feedback from Apple. They seem to enjoy the power they hold over the App Store quite a bit.

      • Alessandro Aureli

        Hi Rober, Check out Goodbarber bill board. Some good news came up today (sep 11th) They are changing pricing for future iOS submissions, projects ill be pre-filtred, selected by GoodBarber. It ll be much higher (i suppose) cost for iOS submission per app. Any way things are moving forward.

        • napcat

          Can’t find the details… Do you mind to share the link? Thank you.

          • Alessandro Aureli

            You need a goodbarber account to follow the link

      • Katrina Dawe

        Hi Robert, has your company or do you know any company that has submitted their apps under multiple different developer accounts to try to avoid this rejection issue? Has their been any success? My company has been greatly affected by Apple’s new guidelines.

        • Florian (Tooltester Network)

          Hi Katrina, sorry to hear about your problems. We’re still finding it hard to establish why certain apps get rejected and not others, and developer accounts don’t seem to help.

        • Theodore Batzakas

          They reject it from other dev accounts as well.

  • Mathew Reay

    With all due respect Florian, you should just rename this article “every app builder is going to have issues so prepare yourself & we have a really good financial agreement with GoodBarber so we continue to praise them even though they cannot publish any apps”. I’ve spoken to Apple and any app that is built using an online drag & drop interface will have issues (regardless of quality) — if you haven’t already spoken to Apple regarding this, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • Alexander Potemkin

      For me it looks a bit engaged, indeed. But BuildFire in written confirmed that they (much less beautiful) apps are perfectly fine in terms of AppStore story and goes online well.

      Can you, please, share more details related to your conversation with Apple?

      • Gary Batson

        Buildfire no longer allows the reseller to publish an app with their developer account. They’re requiring the customer create their own account. Could this have something to do with their success in getting apps approved?

    • Lauren

      TBH, this is the best response on this board so far. I do not know why this website is so far up GB’s behind. They have no good news, no real great plan… there’s nothing making them any different than any other builder at this time

    • Florian (Tooltester Network)

      Hi Matthew, I agree on one point, which is that having a relationship with all these app makers is actually working against the article: most of the companies have now contacted us to say they’re the only ones who have no problems with Apple. We have to update their statements, but as you can imagine it’s hard to verify every single one of them.

      However, I do maintain that GoodBarber are still the most transparent about these issues. You can read their update published yesterday, for instance, which clearly states what is happening, how many apps are successfully submitted and what their new process will be.

      Finally, as you say, only Apple holds the keys to this, so it’s the only real source you’d need. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in their decisions, which is why we’re trying to “crack the code” here. If you have any good information, feel free to share it with other users.

  • napcat

    Is there any news on this subject?

    Has anyone else been able to successfully contact Apple and get concrete explanations?

  • Peter

    Why are your reviews 100% Biased, I still cant fathom why are you giving a basic app builder like Good Barber so much importance…even my 5 year old can create better apps….we moved to Appy Pie from GoodBarber and these guys are a class apart…in 3-4 attempts they get the app approved!!

  • Edward Bradley

    Goodbarber is flatly telling me that they will not submit any new apps to the ios app store. They are only submitting updates to existing apps. They give no schedule of when they will start submitting new apps and refuse to give any schedule or news. There is no point paying for the monthly fee.

    • napcat

      I was in contact with Apple. They will let us update our current apps, but not submit new ones.

      Probably this is a global change and everyone affected will be able to publish new update to their existing apps. Can anyone confirm this?

      • Vicki

        If your apps were removed due to app store’s 4.3 rule, contact me at vickizhang1983@masonsoft.com. Let’s fight together! Our aim is to make SAIC file the case, then we may have the chance to talk/negotiate with app store and put pressure on app store to adjust its unreasonable 4.3 rule.

    • Vicki

      If your apps were removed due to app store’s 4.3 rule, contact me at vickizhang1983@gmail.com. Let’s fight together! Our aim is to make SAIC file the case, then we may have the chance to talk/negotiate with app store and put pressure on app store to adjust its unreasonable 4.3 rule.

    • Florian (Tooltester Network)
  • Edward Bradley

    There is an obvious solution to this problem. Everyone stop using Apple products and switch to Android.

  • Jose Salcedo

    Good Barber is down and have the worst customer service ever!

    • Alessandro Aureli

      since 7hours now…. and we did not received any maintenance advice usually we get this 3-4 days before maintenance. Hope it is for a good reason. I believe server ll up 8-9 am Paris time.

      • Alessandro Aureli

        it is up now

  • Jose Salcedo

    They have a Server Maintenance message and took down the whole site!

  • Mathew Reay

    This article needs an update… Shoutem is now seeing 4.2.6 rejections, and Apple has taken their preview app from the app store. You can see here yourself: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shoutem-preview/id1211732978?mt=8 and Buildfire is also seeing rejections now, and AppInstitute has been for a while. Florian, as a test/research, I would recommend that you email each of these companies and ask to see NEW APPS published this week as PROOF they are not affected, not updates, but NEW APPS. And if you’re looking to write a honest blog post or be an honest review site can you disclose your relationship with GoodBarber? And the other companies listed? Why is GoodBarber listed at the top of everything you write? If this is an article for developers to find iOS platforms they should be at the bottom IMO.

  • Ali Ispahany

    Hi,
    Chiming in from Mass Mobile Apps – I have read most of the comments in this thread, i can understand how all of you feel, and we share those feelings. I can report that we have had 2 detailed meetings with Apple, and we do have a clear understanding of what they are looking for.
    Thankfully our platform has not had these issues, and after our recent conversations with Apple, we have an even better understanding on the direction we need to take our platform to ensure that we continue to stay in the good books of Apple.
    We have introduced some features that really provide re sellers the ability to produce apps that will meet and surpass Apples standards. There are no submission fees for our ios apps in our platform.

    • Florian (Tooltester Network)

      Hey, happy to hear you guys are managing. Unfortunately we keep seeing rejections from every app maker who use templates, even those who guaranteed us they had no problems. Hope it’s not just a matter of time.

      • Ali Ispahany

        We dont use templates to build our apps, so i guess that could be a reason that we have not been flagged. And after speaking with the Apple rep i dont think it will be an issue for us. Let me know if you want to review our platform.

        • Florian (Tooltester Network)

          Oh sounds good for you guys! We’ll see if there is enough demand for a Mass Mobile Apps review in the future, thanks.

  • Ed

    Despite claiming it’s possible, as of October 31 you still can’t submit iOS apps on GoodBarber. They’ve stopped responding to all requests for information. We are a premium reseller and have heard nothing for four weeks. They’ve changed their offer, so claim to charge for iOS review, but in fact, five weeks after submissions were suspended, you can’t submit to iOS on GoodBarber.

    • Florian (Tooltester Network)

      Hi, from what we understand they have reached the maximum amount of iOS apps in their review queue at the moment, but some of them are slowly going through. We’ve asked them directly for more info and we’ll report it here shortly.

  • cmbeal

    Oddly enough, I think the answer is to starve Apple out. Apple cannot operate the Appstore effectively with out apps. PWA is the wave of the future, just as iOS was at one time. It made the Appstore what it is today. Evidently that time has passed. Most of the world is geometrically and exponentially going mobile, PWAs make things faster and easier for users. The buying public runs the market and they are very, very selfish and self centered. If Apple does not have apps that operate as well as a PWA to satisfy their customer base, their customer base will gradually and grudgingly move on to where they can get what they want and need. Imagine an Android PWA user and an iOS app user side by side starting up the same App, looking for the same information. The iPhone now becomes a relic. I’ll bet Google-Android hopes they never change! Will it be painfull for us little guys? Yea for about a minute. But in 52 years of doing sales and marketing in three major highly competetive industries, and now a fourth I have learned one thing. When somebody has you by the balls, you do what ever you can to take em back, otherwise they will squeeze them every chance they get. While you are jumping around screaming “Ouch” , they are putting their other hand in your pocket. I say we should all go PWA and let the public tell Apple what to do. F*K aPPLE.

  • blengyo

    news from GoodBarber: pricing reviews and now you have to pay extra cost (290€) for every new ios app you want to send to the apple store, and every new app must have a different developer account (so other 99$ billed yearly from apple). If there is any goodbarber reseller, better if italian, that want to discuss this problem please contact me at blengyo@hotmail.com . @disqus_fc6E5NHfoR:disqus , for example..

    • Hi there! Yes, that’s true. GoodBarber told me that this is actually an Apple rule. Given the recent difficulties of submitting apps to iOS they are now trying to encourage resellers not to use their own iOS accounts on their clients’ behalf.

      Here’s what Apple says in Developer Program License Agreement, 1.2:
      “You may authorize contractors to develop Applications on Your behalf, but any such Applications must be owned by You, submitted under Your own developer account”