Why You Can’t Find Parental Control Apps in the iOS App Store

Illustration for article titled Why You Can't Find Parental Control Apps in the iOS App Store

iOS: If you’re having trouble finding a good parental control app in the iOS App Store, there’s a reason for that: MDM, or Mobile Device management. According to Apple, apps using MDM “incorrectly” pose serious security risk, and so the company is cracking down—but what does this actually mean?

What is Mobile Device Management?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a general term for any technology that allows one device to be controlled and/or monitored by another remotely. Parental control apps on iOS often rely on MDM as a means for controlling screen time, applying content filters, and collecting usage reports, because it’s the only way to obtain device permissions for these kinds of activities. Otherwise, your everyday app on the App Store can’t control your device to this great a degree.

This isn’t some newly implemented technology. MDM has been present on iPhone for years now, with Apple overseeing MDM certification for its devices and even controlling all MDM-based actions on iOS apps.

So why is Apple now so worried about apps using this feature in a way it wasn’t intended? The company now claims that apps with MDM can leave your personal data vulnerable and open to exploitation by hackers, hence the purging of parental control apps from the App Store.

On paper, the move makes sense. If an unwilling person is tricked into installing a certificate from a less-than-stellar app, they’ve just given over the keys to their digital kingdom—a privacy breach Apple would very much like to prevent.

“MDM does have legitimate uses. Businesses will sometimes install MDM on enterprise devices to keep better control over proprietary data and hardware. But it is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device. Beyond the control that the app itself can exert over the user’s device, research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes,” reads a statement Apple published last last month.

Developers (try to) fight back

Several developers with parental control apps now affected by the new MDM policy have responded to Apple’s claims, and their arguments highlight some inconsistencies with Apple’s reasoning.

One app, OurPact, uses MDM to allow parents to set screen time limits on their child’s devices. OurPact’s developers released a statement using Apple’s own MDM documentation to refute the alleged security risks. You can read the full statement here, but the gist of the argument is that since Apple controls the entire MDM review process for iOS apps, properly vetted apps should not pose any of the risks Apple is warning against. As well, OurPact has been open about what it does and how it does it:

“OurPact’s core functionality would not be possible without the use of MDM; it is the only API available for the Apple platform that enables the remote management of applications and functions on children’s devices. We have also been transparent about our use of this technology since the outset, and have documented its use in our submissions to the App Store,” the company’s statement reads.

Photo: OurPact

Some have suggested Apple’s actual reason for removing these MDM-enabled parental control apps is to curb potential competition with iOS 12’s screen time feature. However, other reports point out that many of the apps were purged for various other violations unrelated to MDM, like the prohibition on creating “an App that appears confusing similar to an existing Apple Product, interface, app, or advertising theme.”

If you ask us, the whole this is a net loss for Apple’s customers, even though it is the security-minded approach to take.

What Apple’s purge means for you

Policy disputes between Apple and app developers are one thing, but the biggest concern for iOS users—especially for parents—is that parental controls/screen time apps are being removed from App Store.

This would be less of an issue if Apple provided developers with its own API for controlling screen time, but it does not. More importantly, many of the removed apps like OurPact, Kidslox, and Qustodio included features that iOS parental controls do not—such as filtering web content on non-Safari browsers and cross-compatibility with Android. Their absence leaves parents with fewer options for monitoring their child’s screen time (though there’s debate over just how effective screen time limits can be).

Hopefully, the outcry from developers and the feedback from users will force Apple to at least open up a discussion about the future of parental control on the App Store. For now, however, you might as well settle for using the parental control features built into iOS 12. They’re not as robust when compared to the rival apps, but it’s probably your safest bet for locking down your kids’ activities right now. It might soon be your only one.

[“source=lifehacker”]

Apple App Store Review Guidelines Updated With Remote Mirroring Changes, Free Trial Details, and More

Apple App Store Review Guidelines Updated With Remote Mirroring Changes, Free Trial Details, and More

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Non-subscription apps developers may offer a free time-based trial period
  • Apple says that apps cannot mine for cryptocurrency
  • Apple also released changes in terms of data security

Apple on Monday quietly posted an update to its App Store Review Guidelines in categories such as safety, performance, business, design, and legal. Alongside the unveiling of iOS 12 that is available to developers for beta testing, Apple has officially introduced the new App Store guidelines that it uses to decide which apps can appear in the store. In the new guidelines, Apple has introduced revisions related to free app trials, cryptocurrency mining, data security, and more.

First up, Apple has detailed updates to safety guidelines, and it includes directions related to objectionable content, user-generated content, kids category, and more. The company has told developers to provide users with an easy way to contact them. In terms of data security, Apple says, “Apps should implement appropriate security measures to ensure proper handling of user information collected pursuant to the Apple Developer Program License Agreement and these Guidelines and prevent its unauthorised use, disclosure, or access by third parties.”

Another notable change appears to be surrounding multi-platform services. It appears to be related to apps like Steam Link, which Apple rejected last month. Later, the company said it was working with Valve to make sure the Steam Link app fit within the company’s guidelines. Now, the company is saying that apps operating across multiple platforms may allow users to access content acquired elsewhere, but that content must also be available via in-app purchases.

“You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase,” Apple said. For remote mirroring applications like Steam Link, the company also outlined that the host device for such apps must be a personal computer owned by the user, all account creation and management must be initiated from the host device, any software or services appearing in the client are fully rendered on the screen of the host device, and may not use APIs or platform features beyond what is required to stream the Remote Desktop, and more.

The guideline revisions also include new details regarding in-app advertising. According to Apple, ads must be appropriate for the app’s audience and may not target sensitive user data. Apple says, “Ads displayed in an app must be appropriate for the app’s age rating, allow the user to see all information used to target them for that ad (without requiring the user to leave the app), and may not engage in targeted or behavioural advertising based on sensitive user data such as health/medical data (e.g. from the HealthKit APIs), school and classroom data (e.g. from ClassKit), or from kids (e.g. from apps in the Kids Category), etc.”

Also, interstitial ads or ads that interrupt or block the user experience must clearly indicate that they are an ad. They also must not manipulate or trick users into tapping into them, and must provide easily accessible and visible close/ skip buttons large enough for people to easily dismiss the ad, the company says.

Talking about cryptocurrency, Apple has released some new details and specifically said that apps cannot mine cryptocurrency in the background. Also, apps may facilitate virtual currency storage, given that they are offered by developers enrolled as an organisation. For ICOs, Apple said, “Apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), cryptocurrency futures trading, and other crypto-securities or quasi-securities trading must come from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions and must comply with all applicable law.”

Also notable is that Apple has described how developers can offer free trials of their apps. Previously, it allowed free trials of subscription-based apps, but now any app can offer a free trial. Apple says that non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial by using a ‘non-consumable’ in-app purchase. It said, “Non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period before presenting a full unlock option by setting up a Non-Consumable IAP item at Price Tier 0 that follows the naming convention: 14-day Trial.” Also, before the start of the trial, apps must clearly identify its duration, the content or services that will no longer be accessible when the trial ends, and any downstream charges the user would need to pay for full functionality.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Microsoft’s new workplace mixed reality apps pop up in the Store

Microsoft's new workplace mixed reality app previews pop up in the Store

During its Build 2018 developer conference last week, Microsoft introduced two new mixed reality apps designed for the workplace. At their reveal, Microsoft said the apps would be available in a limited-time preview starting on May 22. However, both apps have now been spotted by noted Microsoft watcher WalkingCat in the Microsoft Store a little earlier than expected.

The first app, Microsoft Remote Assist Preview, is available only for HoloLens users and is intended as a way for workers to remotely collaborate with experts on their Microsoft Teams contact list. Within the app, workers can take advantage of video calling, image sharing, and mixed reality annotations. Combined, the features are meant to enable workers to keep their hands free while being guided through a task.

The next app, Microsoft Layout, is a design app for mixed reality. Users can use Layout to view 3D models in a room at real-world scale, allowing them to see how a room will look in the physical space around them or in a virtual space. The layouts can then be shared and edited with others in real time. We briefly tried out Microsoft Layout with a Windows Mixed Reality headset and it works as advertised, though it’s slightly buggy in its preview form.

Both apps represent Microsoft’s determination to make HoloLens and mixed reality apps a reality in the workplace. That’s something we’ve already seen with companies deploying HoloLens to help out in everything from operating rooms to automobile design studios. However, there’s quite a bit of room left to expand as the mixed reality space continues to grow.

If you have a HoloLens or Windows Mixed Reality headset, both apps are listed in the Microsoft Store now.

[“Source-“windowscentral]

Apple Now Allows Developers to Add Up to 10 Screenshots on App Store

Apple Now Allows Developers to Add Up to 10 Screenshots on App Store

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Developers on the App Store can now add up to 10 screenshots
  • Previously, up to five screenshots per device form factor were allowed
  • The new change doesn’t affect apps listed in the Mac App Store

Apple has now allowed app developers to add as many as up to 10 screenshots per device form factor for their apps listings on the App Store. The new change has increased the maximum number of screenshots that can be added to app listings on the App Store from the previous limit of five screenshots per device. The change is applicable to the App Store for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, and it doesn’t affect the number of screenshots displayed in search results. This means search results will still include three portrait screenshots or one horizontal screenshot.

“You can now display up to 10 screenshots on your product page on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, to show customers more of your app’s experience,” reads the announcement on the Apple Developer site. The latest development is mainly aimed at helping developers attract new users by showing different features of their apps.

As reported by 9to5Mac, developers can submit up to 10 screenshots for each device form factor their apps support, across all iOS devices as well as 1080p and 4K Apple TV resolutions and Apple Watch form factors. To give more visual cues about their apps in addition to static screenshots, developers have also been provided with the ability to add three video previews.

Notably, Apple hasn’t yet applied the new changes for apps available on the Mac App Store. This means that the apps listed on the Mac App Store will continue to come with up to five screenshots.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]