Over the past few months there has been a lot of news within the event industry about the new updates to Apple App Store Review Guidelines and what this means for event apps. With the new iPhone launch, Apple has been completing an overhaul to the App Store that affects us and the entire event industry. There is a lot of noise right now in the event industry sharing conflicting viewpoints on what’s going on. Many companies have shared their opinion on how these changes will not affect event apps. Our team proactively reached out to Apple to make sure we had the latest and most accurate information on the topic. We have discussed the changes in depth directly with Apple, and in this post we will share with you what we have learned from Apple.
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What Has Changed?
Apple has added Clause 4.2.6:
"Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected."
This is added in their app guidelines as a way to clean up the app store by removing cloned copycat apps. Apple no longer wants to have template apps in the App Store.
They have also added Clause 4.3:
“Don’t create multiple Bundle IDs of the same app. If your app has different versions for specific locations, sports teams, universities, etc., consider submitting a single app and provide the variations using in-app purchase. Also avoid piling on to a category that is already saturated; the App Store has enough fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra apps already. Spamming the store may lead to your removal from the Developer Program.”
This is a way to consolidate apps with similar features and functionality.
Why Has This Happened?
When an app is popular, mostly with games such as Flappy Birds, there are a lot of copycat apps that come out. This confuses users and leads to them downloading the wrong app. We know that our apps are not templated “copycat” apps since they each have different functionality, design, content and implementation. Unfortunately, Apple has painted all apps with a broad brush and does view this as a template app, because our clients’ event apps share some of the same functionality. Apple has an automated approval process that picks out apps automatically, identifies them, flags them and then rejects them from the App Store if they share the same codebase. Apple has told us directly that event app companies will not be able to find a way around these regulations and we will have to work with Apple to maintain the most valuable solution for our customers.
What Does Apple Recommend?
Apple’s guidance to the event industry is for event app companies to consolidate all of their event apps into a single container app. A container app is a single app that shares similar functionality and is the home for all brands and events. For example, the LOOPD Container App would be the only app that attendees would download to access all of their events for different brands. We understand that a container app affects the brand value for our customers, and we are doing several things to protect the brand value and overall attendee experience.
How Are We Maintaining Brand Value for Clients?
We are creating an experience for our customers that is focused around their brand from the start. We’ll be offering branded websites for customers that contain a link to their event list or event and a link to add the event to their Google or Apple Wallet. An attendee can click on the link to get access to download the LOOPD Container App. If the LOOPD Container App is already downloaded, then the link will automatically open the app to the event list or event page. This will be a very similar experience to currently opening an event app. When an attendee adds the event to their Google or Apple Wallet, a branded card for the event will appear with another link to access the event. We want to make sure that our clients’ brands are always front and center for their customers.
Will There Be A Grace Period?
We are in discussions with Apple to give our existing clients a grace period while we work to consolidate individual event apps into their new container app. We’re working with Apple to come up with a realistic and safe plan that will give our team enough time to transition clients over to the new LOOPD Container App. During the grace period, event app companies like us can continue to submit branded event apps to the App Store. The apps submitted before the grace period will stay on the App Store and can be downloaded after the grace period. After the grace period, the apps can’t be updated anymore, and that’s why we recommend that all of our current customers work with us during the grace period to ensure the longevity their apps require can be realized.
Can Event App Companies Submit Apps Under Their Client's Accounts?
An event app can be submitted under a client's account as an approved team agent, however, the app has to be unique. If the app is not unique then it will be rejected by the 4.2.6 and 4.3 clauses in the Apple App Store Review Guidelines under the automatic rejection process we described earlier. Companies are still allowed to internally distribute their app through a mobile device management (MDM) solution and remain completely unaffected by the App Store changes. An MDM is a type of software that can be used to deploy apps securely to employees’ mobile devices. This is a good option for companies who hold several internal events each year and can actively manage all of their employees’ mobile devices under their internal corporate IT policies.
What Are We Doing?
We are updating our mobile product offerings with a LOOPD Container App that will show an attendee a list of private events that they have access to for a brand once they login or enter an access code. An attendee will be able to search for the event within the brand and then tap on the event to access the appropriate event app. The event app that they tap on will have unique branding similar to how our event apps work currently. The app only needs to be downloaded once and then an attendee will also be able to click on a link from an email, website or Wallet app to automatically access the event list for a brand. When an attendee logs in they will then receive a personalized and enhanced experience for that brand. We plan to have this available by the end of 2017. We’re also updating our HTML5 mobile web app with the latest progressive updates for offline and connectivity features. Our goal is to have our mobile web app experience identical to a native app experience and we’re going to support a downloadable web icon that will live on an attendee’s home screen!
What Are The Benefits Of The LOOPD Container App?
There are several advantages to the LOOPD Container App. First, it increases the security of the App on the App Store by creating less generic apps for each brand. Second, our QA team will not have to divide their efforts among many apps and that will lead to a higher quality experience. Third, it will be easier for a client to upgrade and manage their apps. Fourth, the app retention will be higher after the first event since attendees will use the same app for several company events. With higher app retention, the event marketing team at each brand will be able to reduce their cost and time around app download campaigns.
We’d like to thank all of our customers using the LOOPD App. We will continue to work hard to improve the experience of the LOOPD App, and we’re going to continue working with Apple to make sure that we deliver a unique and high-quality container app. Our goal at LOOPD is to provide an app that keeps attendees informed at all times, and enables attendees to plan their event journey. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact us at email@example.com.