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Why is the AppStore Rejecting AdBlocking App Updates?

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Popular ad blocking applications like Adblock and Weblock have explained that Apple has stopped accepting updates to their applications, on the grounds that they violate a section of the AppStore Developer Guidelines.  Which one?  Well, the requirement stipulates that apps should be useful, unique and provide some kind of value.  More specifically Apple states: “your app should include features, content and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website.  If your app is not particularly useful, unique or “app-like”, it doesn’t belong on the App Store.  If your App doesn’t provide some sort of lasting entertainment value, or is just plain creepy it may not be accepted”.

Why is this an issue for Adblock and Weblock?  They are both VPN-based adblock apps who recently had their updates rejected.  Again, why is this an issue? The adblocking app installs certificates on your device to block advertisements both in Safari and other applications.  The issue for Apple is that they want advertisements through Safari.  Apple indicated that they “have always supported advertising as one of the many ways that developers can make money with apps”.

weblock

If you want to block the advertisements, you have to find an app that uses the Safari Content Blocker.  Further to that, they haven’t removed the actual applications from the AppStore, but rather are just blocking future updates.  Does this make sense?  And is it fair?  For one, this has been a rule of Apple’s since day one.  So how did the apps make it into the AppStore to begin with?  I think that if you set a rule, you should have to follow it, regardless.  I mean, isn’t that the point of a rule?  Further, how can you take something away that you’ve already allowed?  Apple is saying that the apps “slipped through”.  What kind of system do you have in place that allows this to happen?  Maybe those approving apps should have been paying more attention.

I find the premise behind the AppStore very interesting.  In order for your app to make it into the AppStore it has to be “useful, unique and provide some kind of value”.  That’s kind of harsh, don’t you think?  What if it’s just useful and unique and provides no value?  And further to that, how can you measure value?  Who is making that judgement call?  I picture one guy sitting in an office reviewing the apps.  I realize that I’m being facetious, but it seems kind of ridiculous.  How can you say that these adblocking apps aren’t useful?  Or that they don’t have value?

It seems that Apple is changing the rules mid-game.  If there are, in fact, criteria that your app has to meet, make it know.  Make sure everyone knows what that means.  What does that look like?  And how do you define “not app like”?  I have a really hard time with arbitrary rules.  If you don’t want their apps available in the AppStore, come up with a better reason for rejecting them.

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