An App Store change that flew under the radar is hurting apps that display other downloads other than their own platform to users, and apps like FreeAppADay and AppShoppr could be finding themselves on the outs thanks to iOS 6. 

PocketGamer.biz was the first to report on these changes to the terms of service, which now forbids third-party app promotional services from the advertising of apps that these services do not own themselves. It’s a clear signal Apple is trying to further control the App Store, as it seeks to ban the third-party promotion of apps altogether.

The new clause in question reads: “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.”

The first indication of Apple’s move to crack down on any in-app promotional activities that might affect the App Store and its rankings came last year Apple updated its iTunes chart algorithm to support apps that had been downloaded organically. The tweak to its ranking algorithm would not take into account the rankings of apps downloaded through incentive programs that would otherwise help an app climb Apple’s App Store charts.

At the same time, this wasn’t the first time that Apple had made moves to protect its App Store and the revenue generated within iOS apps. Last year, the platform changed its policy and forced developers to change external links that would send users to an external site for subscriptions or purchases. Even Dropbox ran into an issue earlier this year when Apple forced the cloud storage service to remove from its iOS app a new account creation feature that simply linked to an external Web page.

Distribution and incentive services including Tapjoy and Flurry, which in fact do offer in-app incentives to download an app in lieu of paying for in-game benefits, aren’t directly affected by the changes. However it would be naïve to assume that Apple doesn’t have plans for curbing the practice of inorganically driving app downloads and sales more than the restrictions that the company has enacted already. 

Despite how its hurting these promotional services, Apple’s decision does make sense. Services like FreeAppADay and Tapjoy are heavily influencing Apple’s App Store, outside of its influence, and the company wants to surface apps that haven’t necessarily resorted to essentially buying their way onto the top 25 of their category. But as PocketGamer.biz indicates, it’s unlikely that these third-party promotional apps will be booted from the App Store altogether.

We’re still able to find and download FreeAppADay without any issues and it has been nearly three weeks since the terms of service were purportedly updated. Instead it’s more likely that these apps will be phased out over time as Apple begins to reject new updates to the third-party promotional apps in question.