After Uproar, Apple Makes Room for Rival Parental Control Apps

This week at WWDC 2019, Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines and many of those changes seem to be directed directly at the kinds of contention that recently led to questioning whether Apple can be trusted with the App Store to start with.


A leading daily, stated that the company seems to be backing away from its posture that screen time and parental control apps shouldn’t have entry to the same powerful mobile device management (MDM) and VPN APIs that big companies do — a stand which the company efficiently used earlier this year to get rid of a whole bunch of those apps just as it was jointly introducing its own Screen Time feature.


As far as the VPN API goes, apps that provide “parental control, content blocking, and security” also have a conditional exemption.


It’s not clear that the suppression is completely over, or that any of the previously prohibited apps — which recently grouped together to demand that Apple publicly release a new committed parental control API for them to use — will actually make it back into the store.


A new API would obviously have been a more logical solution if Apple truly thinks that MDM is as innately dangerous as it informed the world in April. These changes make it appear like Apple’s fears were excessive, or that it’s willing to endanger on that belief to satisfy those developers.


There’s a key dodge, though: both of the new rules would allow Apple to pick and choose winners and losers. MDM is allowed “in limited cases,” whereas parental control apps can use VPN if they come “from approved providers.”

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