Apple will now allow push notifications to be used for advertising, so long as users agree to receive the ads first.
As spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple updated its App Store guidelines today with a change to its traditionally strict restrictions around push notifications. Apple has long banned apps from using notifications for “advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes,” but that changes today. Apps can now send marketing notifications when “customers have explicitly opted in to receive them.” Users must also be able to opt out of receiving the ads.
The change follows a couple incidents over the past two years in which Apple bent its own rules by sending out push notifications that read a lot like ads. Since other companies’ apps could be banned or have their push notification privileges revoked for that behavior, the moves were criticized as another example of Apple getting away with special treatment because it controls the platform.
Apple’s intention has generally been a good one here — no one wants to be spammed with notifications, especially not marketing messages they didn’t request. But the flat out ban led to some ambiguities that this new policy may be able to clear up. Can a retailer use a push notification to tell you about a sale, if you’ve already installed their app? Can Amazon encourage customers to buy a new phone through its app, as it recently did? Some of these notifications might be useful, and Apple’s new policy could let them through while giving customers control over whether they actually see them.
There were a handful of other updates that came down from Apple today, too. 9to5Mac says that Apple set a deadline for when Sign in with Apple has to be implemented: April 30th. The single sign-on system is supposed to offer a more secure alternative to Facebook and Google sign-ins, which are widely offered as a quick way to get people using a new app.
Apple also said it will more heavily scrutinize fortune telling and dating apps and will reject them if they do not “provide a unique, high-quality experience.” They’re now included under the same spam rules as fart and burp apps.
Another added rule bans apps that can be “used to commit or attempt to commit crimes of any kind by helping users evade law enforcement.”