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New iOS App Store guidelines ok timed demos but put the kibosh on the Steam Link App

Apple has updated its App Store guidelines following its WWDC keynote this week, offering new rules for free trials and screen mirroring apps like Valve’s rejected Steam Link iOS app in the process.

Apple has updated its App Store guidelines following its WWDC keynote this week, addressing new rules for free trials and screen mirroring apps like Valve’s rejected Steam Link iOS app in the process.

The new guidelines are already up on Apple’s developer portal, so those mobile-minded devs out there should be sure to give the document a full read in order to stay on the up-and-up with Apple.

One of the key changes that popped up in the new update allows developers to introduce free timed trials for more apps on the app store. Previously, the ability to offer things like time-based free trials were limited only to subscription-based applications and games. Now, developers of non-subscription based apps can build those limited-time free demos into their apps, though Apple notes that the duration and content of the trial must be clearly identified from the get-go. 

Other changes regarding data security, new Siri-based commands, ad guidelines, and cryptocurrency rules are included in the update as well. But one other particular area of note is the section dealing with ‘Remote Application Mirroring’.

Valve recently had its Steam Link App rejected from the App Store (though it was approved for a short period), a decision that Apple chalked up to “business conflicts with app guidelines.” The new App Store guidelines shed a bit more light on what exactly was amiss with the Steam Link App. 

Section 4.2.7 now notes that apps that remotely mirror specific software or services are allowed on the App Store, but must comply with a number of individual rules. There are four rules all together that deal with this kind of app, but the one likely responsible for Valve’s mishap is the final one:

“The UI appearing on the client does not resemble an iOS or App Store view, does not provide a store-like interface, or include the ability to browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the users. For the sake of clarity, transactions taking place within mirrored software do not need to use in-app purchase, provided the transactions are processed on the host device.”

Since the Steam Link App was largely the exact same, full Steam-mirroring app already in use by a number of other platforms, it would’ve seemingly run afoul of Apple’s new rule against using remote application mirroring to browse and purchase software on the host device.

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