iOS 14 Requirements for Third-Party Browsers and Email App Developers

August 6th, 2020

iOS 14 Requirements for Third-Party Browsers and Email App Developers
David Bell

by David Bell

CEO at Gummicube, Inc.

With iOS 14 on the horizon and a new beta released, app developers are preparing their apps to run properly on the new OS. Developers behind email and browser apps may have a little extra work to do, as Apple has published special guidelines and settings that these sorts of apps must use to be set as default alternatives to Safari and Mail.

Default Apps

When users first activate an iPhone, it comes pre-installed with Safari as the default web browser and Mail as the default email app. Yet there are other apps on the market that users may prefer, such as the mobile versions of Chrome or Gmail.

Users can replace Apple’s apps as the default web and mail apps for their phones to instead use third-party apps. In order for them to do this, the apps must adhere to new rules that Apple has just released.

Web Browser Apps

For a web browser app to replace Safari as the default, it must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Must meet functional benchmarks, including a URL text field, search tools and a “curated” list of bookmarks
  • Provide adequate user privacy
  • Ensure proper access to internet resources
  • Must not use UIWebView
  • Specify HTTP and HTTPS schemes in its Info.plist file
  • Cannot illicitly access photo files, location, HomeKit databases or health databases
  • Cannot poll for Bluetooth devices while running in the background

These requirements are in-line with other App Store guidelines, such as the privacy requirements. Other requirements, such as the URL text field and access to internet resources, are essentially the bare minimum requirements for an app to be considered a “web browser.” Yet these are still necessary to ensure Apple has all bases covered and to prevent anyone from gaming the system.

Mail Apps

The list of guidelines for email apps is shorter than for web apps and is primarily focused on setting minimum requirements. To be considered a default mail app, the app:

  • Must include correct scheme specifications in a plist file
  • Sends and receives messages from any valid email recipient
  • Can include user-controlled mail screening features

These are basic requirements that any email app should be able to achieve. They are still necessary to serve as protection against malicious apps that may try to set themselves up as defaults.

What Developers Should Do

The first thing app developers need to do is ensure their web browser or email apps meet these requirements. They are primarily functionality and security requirements that trusted apps should meet.

Certain guidelines, like how web browsers cannot use UIWebView, may require developers to adjust their apps before they can be set as a default.

App Store Optimization

What does this mean for ASO? It presents an opportunity for web browser and email app developers. If you’re developing a web or email app, you can get ahead of competitors unaware of the guidelines for being set as the default. It’s best to act fast to get a head start on the competition.

If your app does not include an option to be used as the default browser or email app, this could lead to negative reviews on the App Store. Poor reviews can lead to fewer clicks and downloads, which limits your performance and potential on the App Store.

The ability to be set as a default application creates new opportunities for developers, so they should optimize their apps to improve their visibility and conversions.

If they can reach more users and get set as the default apps, it could provide a boost for their overall growth and success in the App Store.

Want to learn more about App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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