Last week I talked about a recent controversy with apps that used VPN APIs for things that they were not intended for. This week brought with it more hiccups after a change in policy around gambling apps caused quite a few removals from the store. To sum it up, apps that involve gambling of any kind (either real or simulated) must now be on the App Store account of a corporate entity rather than an individual.
I think the change itself is probably reasonable given the regulations and liabilities around gambling. It’s also a good sign that Apple are continuously looking at the rules of the App Store and tweaking them where it makes sense. What I think could be handled so much better though, as with many things that Apple does, is the communication around the changes. It appears that the review guidelines are not yet updated with the new policy and the method of communication to affected developers seems to have been an email which arrived after their apps had been removed from the store.
I haven’t mentioned yet that the removal process in this instance also seemed to be a bit over zealous with several false positives being reported. I don’t think this is worth talking much about as it seems to be a mistake which is getting quickly corrected. However that would have been so much simpler to determine if the change had been communicated clearly.
The ironic thing is that better communication would benefit Apple as much as it would us developers. Instead of Twitter and blogs exploding with overreactions to every change, Apple could get out in front of the conversation and quash the controversies before they explode. At the very least, the App Store guidelines must start getting updated to accompany policy changes, but I think a news post or similar before they happen would also be a great step forward.