Apple has made some adjustments to its developer guidelines today, adding new rules that app makers must follow to have their software included in the iOS App Store. First, after announcing that iPhone users will be able to help medical researchers gather more data for clinical studies, Apple is establishing some very specific rules that developers must adhere to if they wish to participate in ResearchKit.
"Apps conducting health-related human subject research must obtain consent from participants or, in the case of minors, their parent or guardian," reads new guideline 27.9. "Such consent must include the (a) nature, purpose, and duration of the research; (b) procedures, risks, and benefits to the participant; (c) information about confidentiality and handling of data (including any sharing with third parties); (d) a point of contact for participant questions; and (e) the withdrawal process."
Researchers must now provide a point of contact and spell out how participants can withdraw from a study
Mandating that apps offer a point of contact for human subjects involved in studies is a significant change. At least two of the apps that Apple announced on stage Monday — and helped create — already offer a point of contact, though developers hope they can take communication even further. In an interview with The Verge, Sage Bionetwork's John Wilbanks said, "We haven't yet cracked how to ask questions. That's something that we are going to try to figure out next, for instance, can we come with some sort of peer-to-peer system where people can ask questions." The company worked with Apple to build two ResearchKit-compatible apps, MyHeart Counts and Share the Journey. That Apple now requires developers to make clear the withdrawal process is also a welcome change, though it faces other challenges as part of its latest move to improve health.
Another new developer guideline spells imminent death for apps that rip music, videos, and other content from services like YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo without obtaining permission. Guideline 8.6 warns that apps attempting to do this will be rejected during Apple's review process. Other new additions, according to 9to5Mac, help solidify the rules around where and how developers can use Apple Pay, the company's mobile payments system.
Correction: The article originally stated that the apps developed by Sage Bionetwork lacked a point of contact. In fact, the apps do provide point of contact. We apologize for the mistake.