Apple has reversed the course in its prohibition of the parental control app OurPact, which means the rejected software can back to the App Store in its original form and without any limitations or limitations. The move marks the end of a month-long dispute between Apple and a number of parental control companies affected by Apple's limitations.
The fact that Apple removed or prevented updates from many of these apps (including OurPact) raised eyebrows because it allegedly resulted from a sudden change in policies that reclassified the apps as unsafe, due to the technology they relied on for the management of devices for children. The problem was that these apps used a series of utilities called MDM or multiple device management, designed to manage hardware in IT and school environments. It was still allowed in the App Store in a variety of enterprise-level apps after Apple's change of rules, despite the fact that it used exactly the same technology and apparently put their users at the same claimed risk.
Everything turned upside down just before Apple's annual WWDC developer meeting a story The New York Times that put the developers of the parental control app in the spotlight. The report reported how Apple's ban seemed to coincide with its own rollout of the built-in Screen Time parental control tool in iOS 12, suggesting that Apple's motives involved self-interest.
In response, Apple took the unusual step of publishing a letter from Phil Schiller, his global marketing manager, who explained that the apps endanger users' privacy and security, and therefore had to be removed. A group of parental control app apps developers (including OurPact) joined forces and demanded an Apple API so that their apps could function within the new limits of iOS, if they could use the existing MDM tools permanently.
But in another turn, Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines during WWDC to enable parental control apps with MDM (and VPN tools), apparently in response to the controversy. And now, with OurPact – the app with the most public impact – officially back in store, it seems that the whole thing is finally over.
Still, even with this controversy finally packed, it is a good reminder of the near-total power that Apple exerts over the App Store and what apps are allowed or not allowed. Even if this specific incident has apparently been resolved, given the nature of the tight Apple game-controlled control, chances are that this is not the last time this kind of controversy will pop up.