Apple updates developer guidelines to cover ResearchKit, Apple Pay, media rippers

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Apple has made small but important changes to its official App Store Review Guidelines for iOS developers, addressing consent issues with the company's new ResearchKit platform, along with recurring payments under Apple Pay, and downloads of third-party music and video.

For ResearchKit, Apple is asking that apps not only obtain consent from participants, parents, or guardians, but state critical information up front before consent is given.

This includes the "nature, purpose, and duration of the research," plus "procedures, risks, and benefits to the participant," according to Section 27.9 of the guidelines. Apps must also explain confidentiality rules, including whether data will be shared with third parties, and provide contact information along with instructions on withdrawing from a research trial.

Introduced on Monday, ResearchKit is an open-source platform that allows medical researchers to broaden a study's sample size using iPhone hardware and data processed through the HealthKit framework.

New Apple Pay rules specify that if a transaction is for an automatically recurring payment, an app must "disclose the length of the renewal term and the fact that it will continue until canceled, what will be provided during each period, the charges that will be billed to the customer, and how to cancel."

Apple has also instituted a rule blocking apps that download music or video from third-party sources without their authorization. YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo are cited by name as examples of media sources, indicating that Apple is directly targeting apps designed to "rip" audio and video illegally.

Finally, a smaller tweak was made in regard to video streaming content quality. Under Apple's new guidelines, apps that stream video content over a cellular network for over ten minutes must use HTTP Live Streaming with a baseline of 192 kbps. The previous limit was 64 kbps.

Although apps sometimes slip past Apple reviewers, developers must officially comply with App Store guidelines if they want an iOS title to be published. The issue is particularly important for ResearchKit apps, since Apple could be held legally responsible if medical data is misused.