Apple relaxes, clarifies new incentivized sharing rules for the App Store

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Two weeks after altering the App Store's rules and issuing rejections to apps that reward users for watching videos or sharing app updates on social media, Apple has reportedly relaxed the new restrictions and begun to give app developers more clear guidelines.

Rather than banning any app that incentivizes users to watch videos or connect the app to their social media accounts, Apple is said to have told developers that they must simply stay clear of such promotions that are designed to manipulate the App Store's ranking system, according to TechCrunch. The iPhone maker has also begun reversing bans made under the previous, more strict rules.

Specifically, Apple does not want developers to reward users for reviewing, rating, or downloading apps, either from the same developer or others. Developers can reward the watching of advertisements or sharing app progress on social media, however — including those for other apps — as long as the users are not instructed to take any of the forbidden actions in the process.

Apple first changed the rules earlier this month, rejecting apps that included incentivized content for violating sections 2.25 and 3.10 of the App Store's review guidelines. Those sections prohibit promoting apps other than those from the same developer and doing anything to manipulate the App Store rankings, respectively.

Tuesday's clarifications are likely a result of Apple attempting to strike a middle ground between allowing developers to take advantage of these widely-used methods to make money and increase organic awareness of their apps and protecting the App Store's ranking system from abuse. High rankings in the App Store's top charts can mean millions of dollars in revenue for developers, a huge incentive to cheat.