Apple Cracks Down on Application Demos, Outlines App Store Rules
Computer maker Apple announced the second beta of Mac OS X 10.6.6, with support for the forthcoming Mac App Store, which also includes new rules for developers, most notably a ban on trial versions of applications destined for the company's online application storefront. The instructions were posted on Apple's developer Website.
"To promote a more consistent user experience, Mac apps submitted to the App Store must write files in the appropriate location. This avoids users being confused when applications store data in unexpected areas of the file system (e.g., storing databases in the user's Documents folder or storing files in the user's Library folder that are not recognizably associated with your application)," the site reads. "Your Web site is the best place to provide demos, trial versions, or betas of your software for customers to explore. The apps you submit to be reviewed for the Mac App Store should be fully functional, retail versions of your apps."
The post states that because the Mac OS X Aqua user interface provides users with a consistent visual and behavioral experience across applications and the operating system, providing an "aesthetically refined" use of color, transparency and animation, users can create your own custom controls, but the element or behavior should support Apple's interface design principles. Laura DiDio, principal at ITIC, told Apple blog MacNewsWorld that because there's a lot of competition in the mobile market, Apple's willing to be more flexible with mobile apps.
"However, it's being more stringent for the desktop because if you have a beta or trial or even an alpha version of an app for the desktop out there, it might cause incompatibility problems or cause hardware or software to malfunction, or even introduce malware," she said. DiDio added that Apple might be susceptible to developer backlash, as the updated restrictions "might discourage a certain segment of the population that feels Apple's being elitist and closed," a charge that has been leveled against the company on previous occasions.
Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at online electronics marketplace Retrevo, also cautioned that the new rules might cause some developers to release unfinished applications onto the Web under the guise of completion. "The restrictions might force developers to prematurely label their programs complete," he told the blog. "If I were a developer and I needed the exposure, I might be tempted to make that leap and rename my beta version as final."
In September, Apple published its App Store Review Guidelines, which were meant to give app developers clarity when building for the company's mobile products. The document details the requirements for developers and breaks down the "broad themes" that define an acceptable app, noting that the guidelines could evolve over time. Unacceptable components include applications that "are primarily designed to upset or disgust users" as well as those that feature "excessively objectionable or crude content."
According to a November report published by the Apple blog MacStories, the company will push through an iOS 4.3 update in December, with a subscription-billing capability for apps. Quoting an unnamed "reliable source," Apple is reportedly building the iOS 4.3 to include not only the usual maintenance tweaks and bug fixes, but also "subscription billing APIs." The update could also improve AirPlay, which enables wireless content to stream from Apple mobile devices to Apple TV and supported speakers.