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Apple reportedly loosens new guidelines for apps that incentivize sharing

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Earlier this month, Apple reportedly began swatting down apps that reward users for various actions including watching advertisements, rating the app, and purchasing other apps, but as TechCrunch now reports, that policy is loosening up a bit.

Seemingly out of nowhere, app developers were hit with a wave of rejections for apps that offer the user a reward for doing things not necessarily related to the app itself, including writing a review in the App Store. Games that provide the player with in-game prizes for such actions stand against Apple's app guidelines, but only recently has the rule been applied in such a strict manner.

Now, some of those same apps are reportedly being allowed back on the digital marketplace, while others are not. Apps that incentivize ad views -- for example, watching a video or posting on a social network for a small amount of in-game currency -- have once again been given the all-clear, while apps that reward the player for App Store ratings or reviews are still on lockdown.

The difference here is clear: Watching an ad and getting an in-app bonus affects nobody but the user, while being rewarded for penning an App Store review trivializes the ratings system entirely, and is essentially the same as buying reviews directly, which is of course prohibited.

The rule makes sense, especially from Apple's perspective, as any measure to manipulate App Store rankings is not only harmful to the app economy but can also lead to subpar software getting top billing on the store charts. From the point of view of an App Store user, I was OK with the more strict approach, as I'm perfectly happy paying for an app upfront to get the full experience, rather than being forced to toss a post on Facebook or sit through a video ad while the app promotes itself as being "free."

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