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derFunkenstein
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Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:03 am

Mini rant:

So some of you guys know I work on a mobile app that's basically a parent/student portal for their schools. A user logs in to look at schedules, grades, attendance, discipline, meal service, and so on. The back-end instances where the schools do all their data entry and stuff is administered by the schools. I mean, my employer hosts it, but schools decide who can and can't log in. what a user can see, etc. Ever since the dawn of time, the mobile app has a "New user?" link that, when the user taps it, directs the user to contact their school for an account (not us). On Wednesday, I submitted a new build for review and this morning Apple rejected it. I'll let the App Store review guys explain why.

From Apple
3.1.1 BUSINESS: PAYMENTS - IN-APP PURCHASE
Business 3.1.1

Your app includes a reference to account registration, which is considered an access to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the app. Specifically, after entering a school district's ZIP code or name, a "New User?" button is present on the login window.

This feature does not comply with the App Store Review Guidelines.

We've attached a screenshot for your reference.

Now, the screenshot was taken on an iPad with this little dialog box in the middle so I cropped it.  You can see the cropped screenshot here. Apple has been approving the app with this link for more than a year. But whatever.

I get that they're trying to stop things like what Spotify did back in June, but for crying out loud. We don't make any money on this app. The parent portal it's connected to is part of the "base" package that the company sells, so we don't even make anything extra on the portal. It's just something schools expect to have when they buy the administrative package. 

Our solution was to re-submit without this link appearing. No money changes hands because we can't figure out how to implement the web app's online payment module without giving Apple a 30% cut of your kids' lunch money.  That's where we are.
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morphine
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:25 am

No exceptions for non-profits?
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derFunkenstein
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:38 am

Well, we're totally for-profit, and we're the ones submitting the app as part of our total package. Our competitors do the same thing, although I will note that the package used by my daughter's school district does not have a "new user" button, either. So if you can't log in I guess you're just supposed to know who to contact. 

If you're asking about the lunch money comment, we'd love to link schools' web stores in the app (which schools use for free, and those companies make money on parents paying processing fees when they make a deposit), but we're equally sure that those links would be a violation. We don't make a penny off those transactions, either, but again, schools want those integrations so we provide them.

What's galling to me is that they've allowed this thing for a year–approving several builds after the kerfuffle with Spotify–and they're choosing now to enforce this thing completely out of context. Meanwhile, I have important new features to roll out and this thing is literally all that's stopping me. 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:14 pm

Resubmit with the feature, and maybe the next Apple guy will let it thru?
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:26 pm

Sad-but that's apple-"If we can't make money on it piss off."
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:39 am

Try again with minor changes as per what they have suggested?
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:28 am

seankay wrote:
Try again with minor changes as per what they have suggested?

Read the rest of the thread. The problem is that their "suggestions" require removal of desirable features and/or paying of a 30% surcharge on any transactions made through the app.
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derFunkenstein
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:51 am

At this point it has now gone three or four rungs up the ladder internally. They started asking about what the paid content is, who pays for it, what payment methods are there, what is (the main admin package) and what does it cost, stuff that they honestly have no business asking.  

If you guys have school-age kids (or have had them in the last 5 years or so), you know that whatever admin package your kids' district uses has a mobile app that lets you check grades and attendance and stuff. That's exactly what this is. I submitted a new build of that app for company X with a helpful feature reminding parents that the district controls who logs in, and it's turned into this.
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Sun Sep 25, 2016 1:19 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
If you guys have school-age kids (or have had them in the last 5 years or so), you know that whatever admin package your kids' district uses has a mobile app that lets you check grades and attendance and stuff.

Unless I develop something for my homeschooled kids, I can't relate. 8)
 
arunphilip
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:13 pm

Are there similar apps (by vendors other than yourself) on the App Store that you can compare to see how they've gone about it? And, through your professional circles would you be able to reach out to them to understand how they've addressed this issue (or to confirm if they've just been lucky till date)? This information is not IP nor does it give a competitive edge, it is the vendors vs. Apple, so I shouldn't see why the others would hesitate in sharing any info they have.
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:15 pm

arunphilip wrote:
This information is not IP nor does it give a competitive edge, it is the vendors vs. Apple, so I shouldn't see why the others would hesitate in sharing any info they have.

Err... if one vendor has figured out a way around it and another one hasn't, how is that NOT a competitive edge for the one who's figured it out?
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seankay
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:52 am

just brew it! wrote:
seankay wrote:
Try again with minor changes as per what they have suggested?

Read the rest of the thread. The problem is that their "suggestions" require removal of desirable features and/or paying of a 30% surcharge on any transactions made through the app.

My bad :(
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:32 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
Err... if one vendor has figured out a way around it and another one hasn't, how is that NOT a competitive edge for the one who's figured it out?


And it's not just one that it will equalize if everyone uses it and thus disappear as a marginal advantage, it's something that if publicized will spur Apple to watch for and eliminate for everyone.

If I got something through Apple's defenses I absolutely would not say anything to anyone. I'd keep it as quiet and easy to overlook as humanly possible to avoid any possible attention.

It's like arunphilip is from another planet or something...
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:40 am

just brew it! wrote:
arunphilip wrote:
This information is not IP nor does it give a competitive edge, it is the vendors vs. Apple, so I shouldn't see why the others would hesitate in sharing any info they have.

Err... if one vendor has figured out a way around it and another one hasn't, how is that NOT a competitive edge for the one who's figured it out?

Because you can't advertise it as a feature, without risking Apple's attention. But yes, I get your drift - little chance they'll share something like that and risk losing their edge, however temporary it might be.
That said, the first part of my suggestion should still hold good:
Are there similar apps (by vendors other than yourself) on the App Store that you can compare to see how they've gone about it?


@Glorious - wrong side of the bed? I am from the same planet. :wink:
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:49 am

arunphilip wrote:
Because you can't advertise it as a feature, without risking Apple's attention. But yes, I get your drift - little chance they'll share something like that and risk losing their edge, however temporary it might be.


arunphilip wrote:
@Glorious - wrong side of the bed? I am from the same planet


Think about what you said in the first sentence I quoted above, and then think about how that might effect what you are talking about in the second sentence.

If the risk is "Apple's attention", a company "losing their edge" vis-a-vis other companies is the least of their concerns when it comes to "sharing".

Right?
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:55 am

The parent access app used by my daughter's school shows meal service history, but does not have a way to make a payment inside the app. But I can make a payment on the web version, and the district says there's no way to enable it in the mobile app. At least in this case, one competitor is equally stuck on this. You can't just log in willy nilly on these apps, either - you need an in. I'll have to find somebody that has access and ask them to look into it. And then it could be that it just isn't turned on at that district.

At any rate, there have to be exemptions. There's no way Newegg or Amazon give 30% to Apple, and I can't image how a PayPal app would work sending money person-to-person, yet all of those things exist.  That's really out of my hands, though; people higher-up than I have to get such exemptions.

My main concern is getting the app approved. They haven't taken down the existing version, thankfully, because that would be pretty brutal.
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:07 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
At least in this case, one competitor is equally stuck on this. At any rate, there have to be exemptions.

Would a letter from the superintendent/head of the school district help clarify?

Also, going back to the original rejection, you mentioned that Apple's wording was:
Your app includes a reference to account registration, which is considered an access to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the app. Specifically, after entering a school district's ZIP code or name, a "New User?" button is present on the login window.


How did they conclude that monetary transactions were possible, from just a 'New User' link? Was it through analysis of the app code?

Glorious wrote:
If the risk is "Apple's attention", a company "losing their edge" vis-a-vis other companies is the least of their concerns when it comes to "sharing".
Right?


Agree. I was hoping the other vendor might just mention even something along the lines of "Yes, we've had problems with registration links and Apple approval", or in the negative. That would have helped the OP know whether his was a unique case or not.
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:17 am

The only reason given was the link and direction to contact the school for a login. Hopefully it'll get sorted today.
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:21 am

I would hope that Apple has the ability to exempt non-profit and taxpayer funded entities.  If they don't, someone should force them to through litigation (I understand this could take years).

Might want to start sharpening up your google-fu.
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:29 am

I would suggest designing the feature to be enabled / disabled remotely without the need for a client update.

Disable it during app review and enable it after it is released.
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:31 am

Prestige Worldwide wrote:
I would suggest designing the feature to be enabled / disabled remotely without the need for a client update.

Disable it during app review and enable it after it is released.


While you might very well get away with it, if you don't you're potentially in serious trouble:

Derfunkstein wrote:
They haven't taken down the existing version, thankfully, because that would be pretty brutal.
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:34 am

derfunkstein wrote:
I would hope that Apple has the ability to exempt non-profit and taxpayer funded entities.


Why would that help? Derfunkstein's company certainly has those for clients, but it's a for-profit entity as he has said.

I understand that this functionality doesn't violate the spirit of the prohibition, but that detail isn't a trivial wrinkle, it's a substantial rift.
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:35 am

Turns out there are exemptions for "physical goods" in section 3.1.5 of the guidelines. I had never looked into it before because I was just told we can't do this. So now I don't get the why, but that's fine. I have a backlog to work on while people getting paid more than me figure this out. :lol:

https://developer.apple.com/app-store/r ... uidelines/

Same with Google:

https://play.google.com/about/monetization-ads/
Last edited by derFunkenstein on Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:36 am

Prestige Worldwide wrote:
I would suggest designing the feature to be enabled / disabled remotely without the need for a client update.

Disable it during app review and enable it after it is released.

Any chance you're a Volkswagen employee? :D

No offence intended, just a cheeky reference to their emission management "technology".
 
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Re: Stupid app store guidelines strike again

Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:44 am

Lol, fair jab.

I'm not, but stuff like that is a fairly common practice in the mobile freemium games market.
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