As many developers have already experienced (see https://forums.developer.apple.com/thread/82935, https://forums.developer.apple.com/thread/82964, https://forums.developer.apple.com/thread/46910), Apple started to agressively apply the 4.3 guideline asking the developers to consolidate their existing apps into 1 container app. We experienced this ourselves recently.
Our apps are designed to help people pass their UK theory test. As there are 5 different vehicle categories (which are not related to each other in any way) we obviously have an app for each of these categories. Apple is asking us to bundle cars, motorcycles, lorries, etc all into one container app.
We already responded to the App Review team highlighting many reasons why we believe that this is a wrong application of the 4.3 guideline. Some of these are listed below:
- We develop all the code ourselves and we do not use any commercial templates.
- These apps target different sets of users (even the age profile is different)
- These apps contain different revision materials
- We cannot use on-demand resources to download the necessary images because users often use our app when they commute and London underground does not have a reliable network connection. Including all image resources into 1 container app would make its size too big to be downloaded over cellular. And if it gets downloaded - 4/5 will be unused by each user.
- Such apps are available not only on the App Store but also in the form of CDs and text book material. And even the governmental organisation which sets the actual test splits them by a vehicle category: https://www.safedrivingforlife.info/shop.
- In our opinion, given how mature this market is outside of the App Store, users have a clear expectation that they can search for "motorcycle theory test" and find the app they need. However, if we bundle 5 apps into one we would lose many relevant search terms. How is this a good user experience if the app which users might find helpful is not available in the search results for their consideration?
- Obviously, all our competitors also separate apps by a vehicle category
From our point of view Apple is going too far if it requests that all apps like ours are consolidated. We do not think that we are engaging in spam of any kind by releasing car theory test and motorcycle theory test separately.
Unfortunately, our experience with an App Review team has been extremely frustrating. In fact, we had to ask them twice to clarify what they mean until they told us that they want us to consolidate our theory test apps. Needless to say, when we message them with some arguments they simply copy-paste the 4.3 guideline.
It seems that the App Review team has no authority to discuss the guidelines or to consider how they should be applied. If they stumble upon some triggers - they will tell you that you need to consolidate.
It would therefore be great to reach someone at Apple who actually has the authority to evaluate these guidelines more flexibly. And if you guys know how to do this it would be of great help! It would also be helpful if some Apple employees who monitor these forums could pass this information on internally.