Apple starts removing apps that incentivize social sharing
Apple has begun cracking down on apps that offer incentives to users for watching videos or sharing on social networks. The move is said to be a broader push to change how content discovery is handled in the App Store in iOS 8. Apple has outlined the following policy changes to reject several apps:
2.25: Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or to provide significant added value for a targeted group of customers.
3.10: Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.
The new changes indicate that apps cannot incentivize social sharing for in-game rewards, a practice that is fairly widespread. Games like Candy Crush, for instance, lean heavily on Facebook sharing for in-game rewards or additional lives. In addition to social sharing, Apple is delisting apps that promote other apps. An anonymous developer forwarded a rejection email to TechCrunch which suggests that Apple will be looking to remove non-compliant apps retroactively:
On occasion, there may be apps on the App Store that don't appear to be in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. We work hard to ensure that the apps on the App Store are in compliance and we try to identify any apps currently on the App Store that may not be. It takes time to identify these occurrences but another app being out of compliance is not a reason for your app to be.
Going forward, it is appropriate to remove any form of incentivized rating, or ad viewing, etc.
With the redesigned App Store in iOS 8, users can find new content by trending keywords, category and subcategory, related search terms and more. What is obvious with moves like this is that Apple is trying to lock down on content discovery and making it easier for users to find apps from its own services. It is not clear as to what extent social sharing is permitted, but it is evident that Apple is cracking down on the more non-standard practices used by developers to monetize.