Michael Tsai, referencing Apple’s App Store guidelines on user generated content in relation to Parler’s recent app rejection:
If you go by Apple’s written guidelines, multiple apps were compliant, yet rejected anyway. If you go by Apple’s stated objections, none of the major apps are compliant, yet they’re in the store, anyway.
Regardless of your opinion about Parler, it’s clear that Apple’s policies are not enforced uniformly. And yes, I agree with the likely rebuttal — the App Store is a private platform, Apple makes the rules and can remove an app for any reason. But there’s a difference between what they can do and what they should do. Without any predictability to policy enforcement, developers are left in the dark. And the smaller developers are the ones hurt the most.
Unlike Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, smaller developers are stuck building apps that are well within the lines of acceptability. Otherwise they risk their livelihood. They don’t have the option to build something that pushes the envelope because they aren’t afforded the same lax enforcement that the bigger companies receive.
Apple needs to get a handle on their policies. Refine their wording, train app reviewers well, and enforce the policies evenly.
But I would also advocate for opening the platform. Because no matter how hard Apple tries, the review process will never be perfect. Just let developers distribute their own apps. Add an option in settings to allow installation from outside the App Store, disable it by default, and display a strongly worded notice when it’s toggled. Whatever you have to do.
The developer community and the platform itself would greatly benefit from a bit more freedom.