Apple has reportedly started cracking down on apps offering the ability to download music from third-party services like YouTube that normally don’t allow users to do so. In addition, a separate report claims that Apple has also started going after apps that incentivize users to either watch ads or share content through social media networks.
The first report comes from MacRumors, which notes the App Store has replaced results for the search query “music download” with an advertisement for iTunes Radio followed by other music services like Spotify (pictured right). At first glance it appears to be Apple simply cleaning up search on the store (I’d expect to get iTunes Radio, Spotify, etc for the search “music download”), but MacRumors also claims that “Apple has asked them to remove audio downloading functionalities from their app, perhaps to prevent potential piracy.” For now the apps still live on the App Store and the change doesn’t appear to have taken place in countries outside iTunes Radio availability. Results in the Canadian App Store continue to show apps for download music illegally from YouTube and other online services.
Another report has popped up claiming that Apple is also not too happy about apps that are encouraging users to watch ads or share to social networks in exchange for rewards. A report from TechCrunch detailed the change, which also appears to extend to apps promoting apps other than their own through the methods mentioned above.
It’s worth noting that Apple’s App Store guidelines have always had rules against promoting other apps and we’ve seen Apple reject apps in the past that include functionality that might compete with the App Store. There are a lot of grey areas in the App Store guidelines.
We’ll have to wait and see if this is part of a broader change to the App Store in iOS 8, which also introduced app bundles, Editor’s Choice picks, app video previews, and more, and if Apple is truly going to remove these third-party music downloading apps for good.