53 Replies
      Latest reply: Nov 17, 2017 10:12 PM by pilenos RSS
      tomkincaid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

        Like many developers of travel apps, I have different guides for different cities.

         

        The main reason for this is search, an app can only be optimized for so many keywords and if multiple cities were combined into a single app, it would not show up in search for people looking for a guide for most of those cities even though the app has guides for them.

         

        Another reason it to not require a separate download. For travelers with poor internet connections, having a container app that requires multiple in-app downloads is less desirable than just downloading the whole app up-front.

         

        I notice many developers are allowed to have dozens of apps like this. All the same app with just different content for numerous cities. Here are some examples:

         

        https://itunes.apple.com/us/developer/ulmon-gmbh/id306906820

         

        https://itunes.apple.com/us/developer/travel-guide-offline-maps/id1086721423

         

        https://itunes.apple.com/us/developer/etips-ltd/id330954824

         

        I just had my apps rejected with this note. Can someone explain how other developers are allowed to do this and not me and what I could do to be allowed to do the same as they are?

         

        "2.20 - Developers "spamming" the App Store with many versions of similar Apps will be removed from the iOS Developer Program

         

        We noticed that your app provides the same feature set as other apps you've submitted to the App Store; it simply varies in content or language.

         

        Specifically, all of your travel guide apps have identical icons when installed on the device.

         

        Apps that use the same - or very similar - icons make it difficult for users to find apps and are considered a form of spam.

         

        Please combine apps with a common features set into a single "container" app that uses the In-App Purchase API to deliver different content."

        • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
          PBK Level 6 Level 6 (2,205 points)

          If I had to guess as to why other developers are allowed to do this, based solely on what you posted, I would offer 2 possibilities: the other developers lead more wholesome lives or, more likely, the other developers use different icons for their similar apps. 

            • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
              tomkincaid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

              I'm hoping it's the icons too. But they are not aksing me to change the icons, they say I have to combine the apps. Maybe I can try to appeal. Also the threat is not to have the apps removed, it's to have my whole developer account removed.

                • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                  PBK Level 6 Level 6 (2,205 points)

                  "Specifically....." usually points to a key issue. "Please...", in English, means 'optional'; albeit in Japanese it means 'required'.  I'd go with the icon and add in the app review notes something like "this app is very similar to XXX but because it has different content it appeals to a different set of users who do keyword searching using very different key words". 

              • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                tomkincaid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                I changed the icons and the apps are now approved.

                  • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                    boywithk9 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                    @tomkincaid, I just received a similar note from Apple for many of our apps, although they were not in review. They just wrote me out of the blue to say I must create one "container" app within 30 days or they will remove all my apps from sale.

                    We are writing to let you know about new information regarding your app currently live on the App Store.

                    Upon re-evaluation, we found that your app is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. Specifically, we found:

                     

                    Design - 4.3

                    Your app provides the same feature set as other apps you've submitted to the App Store; it simply varies in content or language.

                     

                    Next Steps

                     

                    To resolve this issue, please combine apps with a common features set into a single "container" app that uses the in-app purchase API to deliver different content.

                     

                    To ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store, please submit an update within 30 days of the date of this message. If we do not receive an update

                    within 30 days, your app may be removed from sale.What's ironic is that their request is contradictory. Their suggested approach will necessarily result in removal (whether by me or them) of the app (each of them), since I can't convert them into a single app.

                     

                    In our case, all our icons are already different. They have the style of our brand, but there is a unique image on each app icon.

                     

                    Is there any additional detail you can provide about your experience? Did you get any pushback on your appeal, or did they just drop the whole "container" app idea?

                      • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                        KMT Level 8 Level 8 (9,645 points)

                        >combine apps with a common features set into a single "container" app that uses the in-app purchase API to deliver different content.

                         

                        What's to prohibit you from delivering a single mega app, with all those others mergerd into a bundle, and selling it for one price, vs. IAP pick/choose?

                        • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                          PBK Level 6 Level 6 (2,205 points)

                          Your note may be 'similar' but it is, in fact, quite different.  The OP's note from App Review - as I indicated in my response above - has a 'specific' requirement relating to the icons and a 'please' request relating to other matters.  Your note has a 'specific' requirement relating to 'same feature set ... only varies in content or language."  Your 'please' request is contained in their suggestion as to how you might resolve their 'specific' requirement; in that sense it is clearly a 'Japanese style' please.  (Boy my note above was precient if I must say so myself because the OP failed to mark it as correct.)

                           

                          You can delete all but one of your apps and that will resolve the problem.  Alternatively you can follow what they are suggesting - combine the apps into one app that offers each set of 'content or language' differentiation through multiple IAPs.  If you want to convert your current users you can:

                          1) create a single app that combines the features through the purchase of an IAP

                          2) create updates for each of your current apps telling the user that they should switch to the single app

                          3) in each update you need to:

                                a) tell App Review that you are doing the update to convert current users and tell App REview about b, c and d

                                b) remove the update from sale within a month or two of its launch

                                c) add to each update some mechanism to communicate 'purchased' to the single app - you could use shared space in the user's iCloud key-value file or the keychain or various other techniques

                                d) in the single app search for the 'communication' from the update apps and if appropriate grant the user certain IAP rights.

                           

                          Good luck!

                          • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                            chuckc192000 Level 3 Level 3 (120 points)

                            I'm sorry about what happened in your case, but it's good to see Apple is starting to clean up some existing problems on the App Store.

                              • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                Moddassar habib Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                Guideline 4.3 - Design

                                 

                                We noticed that your app provides the same feature set as other apps you've submitted to the App Store; it simply varies in content or language.

                                 

                                Next Steps

                                 

                                To resolve this issue, please combine apps with similar feature sets into a single "container" app. You may want to consider using the in-app purchase API to deliver the different content to your users.

                                 

                                Best regards,

                                App Store Review

                                hi my  apps rejected this issue are you help me

                          • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                            dpolalex Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                            Hello,

                            I have around 400 Apps (since 2012) that based on white label code and recently I start publish new feature for the first 10 apps with version 3.4.0. Resolution Center got rejected all my apps with next note:

                            From Apple

                            4. 3 Design: Spam

                            4.3 - Consolidate

                             

                            We noticed that your app provides the same feature set as many of the other apps you've submitted to the App Store; it simply varies in content or language.

                             

                            Apps that simply duplicate content or functionality create clutter, diminish the overall experience for the end user, and reduce the ability of developers to market their apps.

                             

                            Next Steps

                            To resolve this issue, please combine apps with similar feature sets into a single "container" app (using the in-app purchase API to deliver different content if appropriate).

                             

                            We encourage you to review your app concept and incorporate different content and features that are in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.

                             

                            Best regards,

                            App Store Review

                             

                            I submit appeal to the App Review Board and after open case number I reply back with next notes:

                            Per case # 1164552840 - Not a Spam and cannot be Consolidated. App is branded for specific dealership and cannot be combine into a single "container" app

                            1. App is Branded for a specific Dealership (Bundle ID is specific to dealership) and use branded dealership assets and cannot be consolidated

                            2. App is completely stand alone and serve only one dealership with specific car inventory, servicing appointments, loyalty rewards, special offers within dealership

                            3. App has unique keywords that targeted only to one dealership

                            4. App have setup with Keywords that have great care to set these keywords up in such a way as to prevent multiple Apps been return on a single search within iTunes, which preventing spamming of the search results

                             

                            Resolution Team still rejected our apps.

                            Any help?

                              • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                tim.christensen Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                Did this get resolved?  If you have any suggestions please share.   I am having a similar issue with the same business model and am currently being rejected.  

                                • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                  jonk.. Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                  well if no one else will say it,  thank God Apple is doing this,   anyone who is spitting out 100 apps a year is not writing legit apps and this really is filling up the app store with spam. Seriously?  400 apps in 4 or 5 years....  that is the very definition of spam/churning templates,  the "this isn't fair" has been used for every Apple rule to date, and well yes Apple is not fair,  but eventually your "competitors"  will get the same Apple email,  I would hope because I really can't stand these spammy apps all doing the same exact thing from anyone,  including multiple developers sharing templates,  remember the flappy bird, and all the just incredibly spammy copies...   well that is what Apple is after,  and God's speed Apple on that rule.

                                    • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                      vervelab Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                      There are legitimate reasons to white-label an app. For example, there are white-labeled apps for restaurants. The functionality is exactly the same but the branding is different. I think its nice that Apple is cleaning up the store, but a blanket ban on white-labeled apps is going way too far.

                                  • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                    StefanoPietrosanti Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                    Hello, we've got same troubles of yours: different customers (beauty saloon) for different app ids.

                                    I did follow this way because each saloon has got it's own template (colors, button, fonts)  sharing some common features like booking or promo. I can't create a container app, since I need different store icons for each saloon (content is also totally different).

                                    Anyone has got some news? Anyway we used to release apps like that since 2 years ago and we never had troubles .

                                    • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                      AndreVicente Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                      Has anyone got a solution?

                                      I have the same problem. I have applications for different companies and have no way to put them in the same applications because they use icons, colors, webservices and different configurations.

                                      • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                        sndrox Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                        Same reply from the AppStore guys, which in our case is somehow impossible as we develop personalized radio station apps.

                                        A single container app in our case, as well as others, is simply unmeaningful.

                                         

                                        There must be a way to differentiate applications which are similar in concept (radios and others) but different in presentation.

                                        I mean, a radio app MUST have a volume, icons to change station (if more than one), buttons to chat, messaging and so on.

                                        • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                          mstenroos Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                          We are experiencing the same as the rest of you, with another hiccup. Since all 14 of our apps (differentiated by state/province) are paid apps, consolidating 13 of them into the one with the most current users will lead to those users losing the money they spent on the original app. If the container app remains a paid app, then there is no way to transfer the othher 13 to that paid app withhout them buying it again. If the we change the container app to be free app with an in-app for each set of content, then we are forced to create this container app as a completely new app - losing 5 years worth of positive ratings and reputation (4.6 star rating over 5 years). Plus, a free app that immediately asks for $6 in-app purchase will get WAY more negative reviews than a $6 paid app.

                                           

                                          It is amazing to me that Apple is not providing any means to help support a transition such as this. Provide promo codes for the 25000 paid users that are about to lose access to their app, or provide a means to transfer purchases from one app to another. Without one of those two options, customers are going to get a very raw deal.

                                           

                                          Anyone get around the above issues or have a plan to do so?

                                           

                                          For transferring in-app purchases, we will probably settle on using the Ubiquitous Key Value Store (https://developer.apple.com/library/content/documentation/General/Conceptual/iCloudDesignGuide/Chapters/iCloudFundametals.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40012094-CH6-SW26 ) to store some info about what in-apps had been purchased in the other apps, so that we can at least apply those to users that do re-purchase the new app. Unfortunately, as per above, that does not help with transferring purchases, but might help someone with a solution for transferring in-apps.

                                            • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                              PBK Level 6 Level 6 (2,205 points)

                                              You will need to issue a revision to your current apps that allows them to communicate with your 'new' container app.  I suspect that if you indicate to App Review that the update is meant to accomplish this communication link then they will let you do that.

                                               

                                              The revised app can use one of these methods to communicate to the container app that it exists and that it does or does not contain various IAPs:

                                               

                                              1) shared space on the user's iCloud Account

                                              2) shared space on the device's keychain

                                              3) look into "canOpenURL" and create a special scheme that does nothing - here one app (the new container app) asks the device if there is an app on the device that can open a new scheme that might be called "dummySchemeForApp3".  The new revision for, for example, App 3 tells the device that it is prepared to handle a URL with the scheme "dummySchemeForApp3".  It isn't actually prepared to handle such a scheme but it says it is in the plist.  The container app will do a canOpenURL, discover that its companion 'app 3' must exist on the device and upgrade accordingly.

                                               

                                              Also:

                                              >a free app that immediately asks for $6 in-app purchase will get WAY more negative reviews than a $6 paid app.

                                              It won't if it does something a little interesting and leads the user to purchase the IAPs.  It also will get downloaded by many more users; albeit, most of them 12 year olds.

                                                • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                  mstenroos Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                  Thanks for the list of alternate approaches. Those can all work for in-app purchase communication. They can also potentially work if you want to create a new and free container app, and use IAP to purchase the content.

                                                   

                                                  However, I have no desire at all to have a free app, that just frustrates users when they open it and realise that they can't do much without paying inside the app. We are still evaluating our options and considerin both approaches.

                                                   

                                                  So far, the leading approach will be to enable app to app comunication via the iCloud key/value store to allow for enabling in-app features. Then, re-publish our most used app as the container app, still at a full $6 purchase price. Within the other apps, notify users that we are moving to the new container app and collect their emails for us to notify them when the new app is available. When we email the users, drop the price to $.99 for a set period of time to make the pill easier to swallow. We will miss some users, and they will be mad. Users will be mad no matter which approach we take to be honest.

                                                   

                                                  Thanks for the reply, looks like many people are in the same boat, with very few paddles or life jackets.

                                                    • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                      PBK Level 6 Level 6 (2,205 points)

                                                      >However, I have no desire at all to have a free app, that just frustrates users when they open it and realise that they can't do much without paying inside the app.

                                                       

                                                      Why would they get frustrated if they get a free app and it does just a little, promising to do more if they buy the IAP?  Especially if your description of the app includes this fact.  And this gives you a chance to 'market' to the users who might be interested but $6 is a lot for an app.

                                                        • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                          mstenroos Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                          Why do users get frustrated with this? Because of psychology I guess. It happens all the time. People don't read product descriptions at all, and get the hopes up with a free app, and then are disappointed. I prefer paid apps because the "pain" of purchase is upfront and forgettable.

                                                           

                                                          Regardess, we will be going that route (free with 14 in-app purchases, trials for each one). By using iCloud ubiquitous key/value store we can get information on which inapps and standalone apps the user had installed. For the the one app that we are converting to the container app, there is the chance that due to a re-download or auto-update, we won't get the iCloud properties to tell us that they had purchased that app prior to us switching to free. For that case, we will use receipt validation to check what version of the app was originally purchased, and what date the original purchased happened. This way, we can activate that in-app "product" as well. I think with the combination of iCloud shared prefs and the receipt validation, we should be able to transition users over "seemlessly". Users might still be a bit upset, but hopefully keep their pitchforks at home.

                                                           

                                                          Thanks PBK for the feedback. If anyone needs any assistance with adopting the processes outlined above, let me know.

                                                    • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                      asweLab Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                      Is there any real resolution regarding this design 4.3 rejection?

                                                       

                                                      Our account belongs to a parent company which owns many subsidiary companies. Each has its own mobile app and shares some general app architecture and functions and of course provides certain company-specific functions. This app rejection design 4.3 seriously affects all our mobile app submission. We can no longer arrange app submission for new app or app upgrade. This really impacts our business. Seems this rule is tightened starting from end of June 2017 but poorly explained to public and affects many parent companies' strategies and app management. Any idea?

                                                       

                                                      Hope Apple can seriously review this design 4.3 rule which should stop real spam app but allows white label apps for different entities under parent company or any similar scenario like "University" app. It does not make sense to offer a single container "unversity" app for "XXX University aliance" which actually offers services for many individual universities under the same aliance. Where is the uniqueness and differentiation? Apple, please give us a good answer.

                                                        • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                          mstenroos Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                          No resolution that I have heard of. Apple approved our last round of updates and gave us a 2 month grace period to transition the 14 apps to a single app. I tried filing an appear, but they never even responded to it, as the app updates had been approved, so the appeal process doesn't even get entered.

                                                           

                                                          From the person I talked to, they made it very clear that although you can appeal, the appeal with not amount to a change in direction. They are enforcing the policy, and are not making exceptions.

                                                      • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                        AndreVicente Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                        I have a question about the technology used. My applications are hybrids, I'm not sure if this problem could have been caused by this or if it has nothing to do. Has anyone had this same problem with native app?

                                                        • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                          thomasdrbg Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                          We're having the same problem and it's a real blocker. The impact seems big on a lot of companies.

                                                           

                                                          Do you think that adding extra features (new sections, new forms...) per app would work?

                                                           

                                                          Or creating a new developer account per client?

                                                           

                                                          @AndreVicente Our apps are native.

                                                            • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                              AndreVicente Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                              Thanks for the answer.

                                                              I have already tested to publish the app in the account of the client and the result was the same, they still said that if it continued to send apps with the same problem would be blocked

                                                                • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                  m.ugale Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                  So I have additional information : I talked with the Review Team, they confirmed that we cannot upload similar apps with different branding anymore.i

                                                                   

                                                                  The only way is to add specific and independant features for each app to make it unique. Hope this helps.

                                                                    • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                      mstenroos Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                      I specifically asked "what number of unique features must we add to each app to make it unique enough to prevernt rejection under this clause?". They told me that it would have to be substnatially different, and a single feature here or there would nto make a difference. And yes, we are also building native apps, so its not a questions of native or non-native.

                                                                       

                                                                      All the negativity around this had us pretty down, but I have spent a solid week on this, and getting to a place where I am still ****** about the change, but accepting it. Only because I am making progress on the development and have solved all the major hurdles (remote resource loading, region specific settings, etc). It is a huge undertaking, so try to get some grace period from your reviewer. We got 2 months, which is not ideal, but a lot better than not being able to do intermediate releases.

                                                                • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                  alexandre-ramos Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                  So, gentlemen, it's my turn to get notified by Apple.

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  What is the best way?

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  1 - Create individual accounts for each app?

                                                                  2 - Abandon the apple store and start publishing the apps using the enterprise account, and creating my own store?

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  What is your suspicion?

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  Thank you.

                                                                  • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                    leopsantana Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                    This new guideline is absolutely ridiculous! I can't see how it is a better experience for our endpoint user. Apple is forcing a lot of companies to change their business model. App Store is going to offer a poor market for the developers.

                                                                    • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                      djibouti Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                      Has anyone tried changing their apps to B2B apps in response? I don't think it's something you can enable once the app's been on the App Store so it's a huge disruption for existing users, but I want to know if it's at least an option for new clients.

                                                                       

                                                                      I'm also getting 4.2.6/4.3 rejections for a "white label" app for specific clients (my own code, not another service).

                                                                      • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                        matt1982 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                        Yeah we also got hit really hard with this one. We make apps for small fast food/takeaways etc. They dont have a huge development budget so a lot of the code underneath is re-used.

                                                                         

                                                                        A single container app is not an option as we need to be able to let them send push notifications with special offers and promo codes for weekly deals. We already have a container app and compared to the individual apps we see hardly any usage at all maybe 5% total usage.

                                                                         

                                                                        Its a huge problem for these small businesses make no mistake. I cant see any positives for the end user food ordering public its just an extra hassle for them.

                                                                        • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                          polafson Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                          Just got burned. Had created matching games with the characters from different sticker packs and was going to bundle each matching game with the appropriate sticker pack and offer all at discounts via bundles but Apple can't be persuaded of the benefit to the end user. The first three were approved. On the 4th and final the rule kicked in. Too bad they've lost the ability to think.

                                                                          • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                            Helloboyese Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                            Hi!

                                                                             

                                                                            I have the same problem as you, before could upload similar applications with similar characteristics and apple approved me without problems, now when sending an update I have removed the almost 20 applications that had this is crazy!

                                                                             

                                                                            Apple is changing the rules and have made a very bad changes

                                                                            • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                              Pironiiuss Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                              Only resolution we have come up with (container app is not a solution for our high end clients) is to get each client to set up their own developer account.  It is a lot of extra work for them but the only way for them have the app they want.  Each of our apps have different designs, colors and different content (data), yet was labeled with the same rule.

                                                                              • Re: Having Multiple Similar Apps
                                                                                pilenos Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                                                                                Guys, if you have enough resources there's still another way: you could create separate account for each of your apps (would work fine for white label and similar business models).

                                                                                I've tried that way and also got 4.3 rejection, so our aim now is to figure out how apple's review algorithms find identical or similar apps and how we could pass through it. We should find a way to confuse/obfuscate code and app's structure, so the bot can't identify copies.

                                                                                If there's no fair review, we should find our own way to make it fair. I understand that this method would help those who just spam on AppStore, but at least that'll attract apple's attention to our problem and problem in its algorithm