This iOS tweak means your iPhone alerts could soon get a lot more annoying

App Store
App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has updated its developer guidelines.
  • Part of those changes means apps can now send ads as push notifications.
  • Users must opt into them, though.

Sending ads via push notifications is something that Apple's developer guidelines made clear wasn't allowed. But that didn't stop many developers from doing it anyway. Now they can do it without fear of repercussions – so long as they get the permission of users first – after Apple updated those developer guidelines yesterday.

The specific text comes in section 4.5.4 (opens in new tab), with Apple noting that users must opt-in via "consent language displayed" in an app's interface.

4.5.4 Push Notifications must not be required for the app to function, and should not be used to send sensitive personal or confidential information. Push Notifications should not be used for promotions or direct marketing purposes unless customers have explicitly opted in to receive them via consent language displayed in your app's UI, and you provide a method in your app for a user to opt out from receiving such messages. Abuse of these services may result in revocation of your privileges.

This comes after Apple has skirted its own rules for years, with many developers pointing to notifications promoting services like Apple TV+ and Apple Music. It will be very interesting indeed to see whether Apple also ensures users opt into these notifications. Given its history of ignoring its own developer guidelines, I'd suspect not.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • This is literally why I have notifications turned off for nearly everything. Off is my default choice if an App asks me. I go through the list once in a while and turn them off unless there is an overwhelming reason not to. Right now I think Messages, Mail and BBC are the only notifications I have turned on. As we get deeper into the political season I may turn BBC off.
  • For me it just depends on what the app is for. Most of my apps that use notifications do have them switched on, but stuff like games really shouldn't need notifications unless it's multiplayer where somebody can invite you to a game, and an app that converts different measurement systems or a calculator shouldn't have notifications either