The Problem of App Store + Play Store Gatekeeping
In today’s mobile ecosystem, an app’s success depends heavily on solid App Store and Play Store positioning. However, this means complying with evolving regulations that affect everything from app size to functionality, waiting out lengthy, complicated review processes when you submit an app to be listed on the App Store and Play Store and then doing it all over again when it’s time to update.
The alternative to jumping through these hoops is app anonymity. Apple has made the App Store the exclusive vehicle for delivering apps to iOS devices, and Android devices come with Play Store already installed. In an odd twist, compliance with App Store and Play Store policies has become nearly as important as your app’s mission and content.
Apple and Google release new mobile app policies regularly, with deadlines that must be met in order to stay listed in each store. While many compulsory updates can be viewed as positive for consumers, like tweaks to data security and family-friendly controls, they can simultaneously feel restrictive and overcomplicated from the developer’s perspective. The level of app-parameter control exercised by Apple and Google strikes a sinister note when you consider that these two entities are so dominant that any rules they impose basically shape what the public consumes online.
Recently, the UK competition regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released findings from their ongoing probe into the power Apple and Google wield over operating systems, app stores, and web browsers. The CMA findings assert that, since mobile devices are overwhelmingly either iOS or Android, Apple and Google have assumed outsized control over the content, pricing and available features. Truly, every aspect of our relationship with mobile devices is impacted.
The “our way or the highway” Apple/Google duopoly can impede innovation for mobile app developers. The constant work of compliance can be a drain on resources. Some of the most exciting hardware features, like contactless payments, are offered only to app developers in limited, “special use” scenarios. The CMA probe revealed that Apple and Google provide various degrees of preferential treatment to their own app products.
Additionally, information gathered through their roles as “app-o-sphere” gatekeepers gives Apple and Google access to all the ingredients needed to create their own versions of successful apps submitted to their stores.
Governments have begun to take notice and call for reform. Change is coming. In the meantime, compliance with App Store and Play Store policies remains a necessary evil for developers for the foreseeable future. Amid the rapid pace of the mobile ecosystem, mechanisms to increase efficiency are taking on ever greater relevance, including those that help developers reduce time navigating tricky App Store and Play Store approvals.
Our team at Do Genius On recently introduced Mobile Cascading Style Sheets (MCSS) as a tool to streamline mobile app development, not only upfront but for the entire life of an app. With MCSS, developers can update key aesthetic features without the need for full re-versioning and submission of updates to the App Store and Play Store. Core elements of the user experience can be refreshed immediately within the app, without requiring end-users to download new versions, a win for developers and users alike.
If you’re a mobile app developer who hasn’t tried MCSS yet, please go to GetMCSS.com to make your life easier today.