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Templated Apps

Apple Ban on Templated Apps Affecting a Number of Small Businesses

December 8, 2017

Apple has been making substantial changes to the App Store in 2017.

Along with a complete redesign of the app in iOS 11, Apple has been focusing on cleaning up the marketplace of “problematic and abandoned apps.” One of the changes has been widening the ban on templated apps. And a new report from TechCrunch is showing the impact the change is having on app-building companies and small businesses.

Many app-building companies have been told any apps submitted after January 1, 2018 will be rejected. The status of any existing apps is also murky:

What’s unfortunate about the expanded policy enforcement is that these app makers specifically target the small business market. They build apps for businesses that don’t have the internal resources to build their own apps or can’t afford to hire a custom shop to design a new iOS app from scratch.

Instead, these companies help small businesses like local retailers, restaurants, small fitness studios, nonprofits, churches and other organizations to create an app presence using templates, drag-and-drop wizards and various tools to put together a more basic app that can then be customized further with their own branding and images.

And that change is affecting many small businesses who depend on the app makers because they aren’t able to pay for a completely custom app.

“There was no way in June [when the guidelines changed] that we would have said, ‘that’s going to target our apps,’” ChowNow CEO Christopher Webb told TechCrunch of how he first reacted to the news. “Apple had told us you aren’t being targeted by this from a quality standpoint. So being hit now under the umbrella of spam is shocking to every quality developer out there and all the good actors.”

Apple’s concern over template-based apps for restaurants, Webb added, also doesn’t make sense because “there’s only so much you can do with apps that perform the same utility – ordering food.”

The ban is drawing concern from Congress as Congressman Ted W. Lieu recently wrote Apple asking the company to reconsider the ban.