Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mac App Rejected for Web Site Link

Jonathan Deutsch:

My 1 bugfix update got rejected because I link to my website.

How are my fellow Mac app developers dealing with Apple’s last gasp crackdown at their anti-steering provisions?

Are you making entirely separate versions of your website? Are you using query args to change behavior?

I should mention that this rejection is disingenuous; “purchases(s) are immediately presented” isn’t quite accurate - there’s a link to our store page yes, but even that has a link to the Mac App Store. Apple sent over screen shot “evidence” but conveniently cropped this out.

Of course it was a bug fix update, and the link has probably been there forever.

There’s been a lot of news about iOS apps being rejected for links, and legal efforts challenging that, but I rarely hear about it happening for Mac apps.

Unlike, say, Spotify, this developer is not trying to get around Apple’s fees. Apple is going out of its way to be offended. It’s not clear what the solution is if you want to comply with this ridiculous rule.


Is this about a general link out to your site? If so, fight that.

Jonathan Deutsch:

In my case, this is just opening a link to Hype’s main product page in the browser.


Even if I removed just this menu item, there’s other links in the purchase flow (like learning about pro vs standard, going to the professional product page, etc.) that I suspect they’d reject me for if they were upholding the same user-hostile logic.

Jonathan Deutsch:

I just submitted a solution where I add query args to the URL and if those exist my ‘buy now’ button will use an app url scheme to open the in-app’s payment page. We’ll see what they say (I don’t persist this across reloads and there’s plenty of other ways to get to our store).

I resubmitted with ?build=MAS on the offending links. Those pages strip the query string and change my Buy Now button to reopen my app to its Unlock screen.

Apple approved the update.

Whether they approved because of the changes, or just because, we’ll never know.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

You might (gasp) be trying to sell them something that Apple isn't getting a 27% commission on. Apple is starting to be douches.

Again I wonder why devs bother with the app store, especially because my experience of using it purely on the user side of things has been awful. Do the majority of mac users actually use it for downloading apps?

@Bri. I 100% agree with you.

However, several years ago I ran a poll over various social media networks and found that 56% of Mac users prefer the Mac App Store.

I'd recommend Jonathan Deutsch to ensure he has a version available outside of MAS and targets all of his marketing to the version on his own site, stop paying to promote Apple.

I'd also recommend asking for someone to call him and explain why a link to his website is prohibited.

Currently my top 3 apps are not in MAS, Apple's decision not mine. One is even to help other developers get their apps into MAS.

@old coot starting!? :)

@Bri, I wonder the same thing myself every time I get rejected! The Apple tax is much more than their financial cut. But @Sam is correct -- there's sufficient user demand, and I want to serve my users however they want to get my app (even if it is not financially or psychologically optimal for me).

> I'd recommend Jonathan Deutsch to ensure he has a version available outside of MAS

@Sam that's actually the issue - since I sell outside of the Mac App Store, they don't like that linking to my page allows flows where they can get that version.

> stop paying to promote Apple.

It is quite likely I'm going to remove the button on our website that promotes getting our apps on the Mac App Store after this, though it is more due to a culmination of rejections and app store issues we've faced over the 13 years on the store.

> I'd also recommend asking for someone to call him and explain why a link to his website is prohibited.

Should my next submission not hold up, I'll take your advice and go this route.

For right now what I did was added query strings to the URLs that happen to be in or adjacent to the purchase flow. Then my website changes the "buy now" button to a custom URL that goes back to the application and shows its In-App Unlock screen. We'll see how that goes.

I'm one of the morons who prefers to buy stuff from the App Store, for two reasons:

1. Updates are handled transparently. If I have 50 third-party apps installed, and they all do their own updating, often by just downloading the installer and running it, I have to go through this on average about once every other day.

2. Installing stuff on new Macs. Rather than looking up all of the licenses, finding the website to download the app, finding the proper very for the proper chipset, and going through that whole rigmarole, I just go through the App Store list and click "install, install, install."

Duckald Don

Every time I think about writing software for the Apple platforms I read something like this and dismiss the idea completely.

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