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Apple is strictly enforcing its rules against third-party app update services

Why it matters to you

Your iPhone could get that little bit safer thanks to Apple's stricter enforcement of long-existing rules regarding the App Store.

Apple is getting increasingly strict about the App Store, and is set to start seriously enforcing a few rules that it has had from the beginning. Apple has never officially allowed developers to use non-App Store mechanisms to update their apps, however to date it has largely looked the other way when developers do so. According to AppleInsider, however, that’s no longer the case.

Developers have begun receiving notices from Apple telling them to remove any offending code before the next update. According to Apple, that code violates two rules. However, some developers note that Apple is now interpreting those rules in a “more narrow way.” The rules themselves include section 3.3.2 of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement, and the App Store Review Guideline 2.5.2.

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Rollout.io will perhaps be most affected by the new rules. The service is a popular iOS troubleshooting and update tool, and it allows developers to “push code-level exchanges” to their iOS apps. That’s largely used for fixing bugs and updating data, without developers having to go through the lengthy Apple update approval process.

The move makes sense for Apple. If developers are able to circumvent Apple’s approval process, it can leave apps open to being hacked — which is obviously a problem for Apple, which has created a sense of unhackability on its devices. According to Apple, forbidden update frameworks can leave apps open to man-in-the-middle attacks, which can “pose a serious security vulnerability to users.”

AppleInsider also theorizes about why the changes are coming now. The stricter enforcement comes just days after WikiLeaks released documents suggesting the CIA had developed exploits for iOS — so it’s possible that this enforcement could close up some of those exploits. Whether that’s the actual reasoning or not, the fact is that the new enforcement of the rule will make iOS a slightly safer operating system.