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Apple's secret app rules that are ruining iOS developers

iOS 7 might be seen as the largest update Apple has released as it completely redefined the look of iOS, but iOS 8 is a much bigger change for developers.

Apple has added over a thousand new APIs to iOS 8, allowing developers to dig deeper into the mobile OS. Widgets on the Today page, plug-ins to Health, Cloud Drive and other third party apps, and connection between iOS and Mac OS X devices are all part of the update.

However, adding these new features to future or existing apps is proving a challenge for developers. Several apps have been rejected due to how developers implement the new features, allegedly because they did so in a way that Apple does not approve. Even though Apple has rules regarding the use of APIs, developers claim Apple is making its own rules behind-the-scenes, to reject some of the new apps. Stratechery’s Ben Thompson claims disagreements between three major Apple executives on how apps should implement the new APIs are leading to the confusing rejections.

Developers are being rejected for unwritten rules, like using the iCloud Drive plugin, adding a calculator widget to the Today panel and adding a note-taking tool on the Today panel. Apple appears confused as to what the Today panel should be used for, whether it should be interactive or just for glanceable information.

Some developers claim the confusion could lead to abstinence from the new features, others claim it could make Android even more of a viable alternative for new updates.

Even though iOS tends to be more strict on what is not allowed, it also delivers much more income to developers than Android—despite Android having double the users.

Most developers claim over 80 per cent of income comes from iOS, this is why iOS continues to be the primary platform for app and game updates, whilst Android and Windows Phone get updates later.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.