Apple has begun clamping down on third-party tools that allow users to recommend apps to their friends, with releases equipped with an app search facility also now prohibited.
No official announcement has been made, but PocketGamer.biz understands that apps are now liable to be rejected if they feature "filtering, bookmarking, searching, or sharing recommendations."
We've been contacted by one developer whose app discovery tool has recently been blocked by Apple because it includes such features, with App Store regulation 2.25 - which restricts apps that could be confused by consumers as app stores in their own right cited within the reasoning.
Share and share alike?
As a result, it appears Apple has stretched the remit of 2.25 to cover sharing via email or social networks. The ability to search the App Store within third-party apps also now seems to be restricted.
It's a move that, in theory at least, threatens scores of titles already active within Apple's ecosystem - and, for the first time, not just those engaged in pure app discovery, either.
"Our app is primarily focused on sharing recommendations to your friends," the developer, who wished to remain anonymous, told us.
"I have not seen this rejection notice before and believe that it is a new one. We thought that basing our recommendations on sharing was suitable for Apple, as it had previously stated that if you bake in social or local into your app discovery, you would be fine.
"However, either we are not social enough, or Apple is going back on its position. Either way, it appears the scope of 2.25 continues to grow and I think they aim to be the only provider of recommendations for apps, along with being the distributor."
The email sent to said developer by Apple directly points to apps that "include filtering, bookmarking, searching, or sharing recommendations are not considered as significantly different from the App Store."
However, as the image below attests, these new conditions do not feature within App Store regulation 2.25 itself.
Regulation 2.25 as it stands today
Though it's hard to gauge just how many studios have been faced with a similar rejection letter, one developer behind a rival app discovery platform has told us that the wording 'looks familiar'.
This apparent covert expansion of regulation 2.25 risks adding to the confusion iOS developers already feel, the developer behind the recently rejected app told us, with the community being left in the dark about the way Apple applies its own regulations.
"Regulation 2.25 was put into effect last fall and the scope of what it entails has grown quite large since then," he said.
"At first it seemed Apple was targeting the Tapjoy network and apps that would 'game' its top charts. Next, AppShopper fell because it was too similar to its storefront.
"Finally, AppGratis got that axe and seemingly our app as well, although I remain hopeful that we might be able to adjust our UI to appease Apple.
"Discovery on mobile remains an issue. If iPhone users cant be connected to great apps, then the whole ecosystem suffers.
"If Apple decides it wants to be the sole source for recommendations of iPhone apps - and do something as drastic as discontinue its affiliate network - it wont win. Apple loses, developers lose, and most importantly, everyone with an iPhone loses."
A logical leap would be to suggest that Apple's supposed move against apps that sport recommendation tools has been instigated in preparation for a realignment of its own approach on this score, though that's little more than speculation at this point.
UPDATE: It appears not all new app discovery platforms are suffering at the hands of Apple's new regulations.
Are you a developer who has had your app rejected for similar reasons? Drop us an email at keith.andrew[at]pocketgamer.co.uk.
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.
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