How Apple’s App Review Guidelines could impact branded event apps Expert OpinionWorld

Attendify CEO, Michael Balyasny on how Apple’s App Review Guidelines could impact branded event apps.

For the past week there’s been a lot of buzz about changes to Apple’s App Review Guidelines and their potential impact on branded event apps. We’ve heard everything from rumours of a looming ban to a gradual transition away from white-label event apps. What’s really going on? What can we expect?

The short and somewhat unsatisfying answer is that we don’t know, and in all likelihood nobody really knows. What we can do is proactively prepare for any eventuality. We can also use this as an opportunity to explore ways to create better attendee experiences, create more value for event planners and drive better outcomes for sponsors. Change is often uncomfortable, but it breeds opportunity and creativity…

We spent the last two weeks making sure we’re ready, and have an exciting announcement to share, but first let’s take a step back and recap what we know.

Apple’s policy changes:
In June, Apple announced iOS 11 and introduced changes to their App Review Guidelines. There are lots of edits, but two that we’ll focus on due to their potential impact on mobile event apps:

Section 4.2.6: “Apps created from a commercialised template or app generation service will be rejected.”
Section 4.3: “Don’t create multiple Bundle IDs of the same app. If your app has different versions for specific locations, sports teams, universities, etc., consider submitting a single app…”

When we first saw these changes, we didn’t even consider that our apps could be called templates. Like most observers, our initial impression was that Apple is targeting thousands of spam and clone apps that clutter the App Store.

The apps Attendify builds are so much more; every app is a fully-featured private social network with powerful back-end management tools to help event planners bring attendees closer together. We’re proud of delivering consistent quality, 100 per cent native code, and a stellar end-user experience that’s unmatched in the industry. In addition, our view is that just because apps have similar sections, like a schedule, speaker listing, sponsor directory and maps, doesn’t mean they’re template driven. And we’re proud to have a skilled submit team that audits, QAs and submits each app manually, not using an auto-generation process.

As of today we’re operating like we always have and continuing to help our customers create beautiful mobile experiences for their attendees. Attendify’s branded event apps are still available for purchase and are being approved by Apple. We have however seen some of our competitors affected by the new guidelines, and some have been very vocal about their point of view, which raises the questions…

How will this impact mobile event apps?
This is where things get a little murky and we’re learning more from Apple every day. Fortunately there aren’t that many options. Apple will either recognise that branded event apps create value for the App Store ecosystem and should be omitted from their template policy, or individual branded event apps will be banned from the App Store. It’s as simple as that.

The way we package the mobile event experience is important, but I think it falls way down the list of priorities for most event organizers.

Yes, the transition could get a little tricky, but our role as app developers won’t change…we need to continue to deliver a great experience for event planners, attendees and sponsors. And not to get too philosophical, but we have to focus our efforts on what we can control.

How is Attendify responding?
We’ve made a conscious decision to roll with the punches. We’re going to get ready for whatever comes, and the great news is we’re already ahead of the game…

Most of the team at Attendify has been heads down creating a new kind of app. Some folks in the industry call it a “container” or “directory” app, others call it a “universal” app. The label doesn’t matter. What matters is that it provides a host of new benefits— and it’s ready.

Introducing the new Attendify app
The Attendify branded app is a fresh take on our current multi-event app, only difference being that anyone can publish events to it, instantly. That’s right, you don’t have to wait the typical 7 to 12 days it takes to publish an app in the App Store. There’s a beautiful home screen with featured events and the app makes it incredibly easy for attendees to find and join events. Every event has its own “profile” and the experience operates like any other branded event app as soon as an attendee joins.

This new app is live in the App Store and Google Play right now. No matter what happens, we’re ready to serve our customers with a mobile experience that has all the features and functionality of Attendify’s branded apps.

We’ve also kept things 100 per cent self-service, so planners can build apps for inclusion in the new Attendify app just as easily as they would build a branded app. All the same management and analytics tools are available from day one, and it’s only going to get better. Better yet, attendees can create one profile to access any event they attend that is housed in the Attendify app.

What happens next?

We’re going to keep making progress and moving forward.

As mentioned, our branded native apps are still available and we’re improving them every day. We’re going to update the new app as quickly as we possibly can. We’re adding a whole bunch of new features to make it easier to find events and make the app the best community building tool event planners can use to help their attendees connect on a deeper level.

We’re also going to add premium branding opportunities that give events within the Attendify app the presence and customization they need to stand out.

You can expect a few other announcements in the coming weeks, we’ve got some exciting new products in the pipeline that we can’t wait to share.

To all our customers: thank you for your continued confidence and trust. We’re working hard every day to make Attendify a bigger and better part of your events. We look forward to showing you what’s coming next.

Takeaways:

  • Apple updated their app review guidelines in June 2017
  • Changes to review guidelines are impacting some event technology vendors
  • Branded event apps can still be created and submitted on Attendify
  • No matter what happens next we’re ready to serve our clients with a new app
Tom Hall

Tom Hall

Editor, Exhibition World


Tom Hall

Editor, Exhibition World

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