Apple Opens the Door to Advertising in Notifications

Why This Matters

Apple has always been strict on advertising through app notifications, but it’s apparently relaxed the rules as long as users can opt-in (and opt-out).


Busakorn Pongparnit / Getty Images

Apple’s new developer guidelines are out, and they now allow developers to advertise to users via notifications, something Apple has strictly forbidden in the past.

The big picture: These new guidelines ostensibly get developers behind the fact that a majority of iOS (and iPadOS) users have upgraded to version 13. As 9to5Mac points out, all new apps and updates must be created with the iOS software development kit by April 30, 2020. The apps must also be compatible with all current Apple-supported devices, like the latest iPhone 11 Pro or the latest iPad. Sign in with Apple must also be implemented by the end of April for apps that use other services to authenticate, like Facebook and Google.

By The Numbers

  • 70% of all Apple devices use iOS 13
  • 77% of all devices shipped in the last 4 years run iOS 13
  • 57% of all Apple devices use iPadOS
  • 79% of all iPads run iPadOS

What they said: “Push Notifications should not be used for promotions or direct marketing purposes unless customers have explicitly opted in to receive them via consent language displayed in your app’s UI,” writes Apple in the guidelines, “and you provide a method in your app for a user to opt out from receiving such messages.”

As The Verge notes, this new change may be motivated by a couple of times that Apple bent its own rules and sent out push notifications that read like ads. This could be a way for the company to continue the practice without looking like it’s getting away with special treatment as the platform holder.

The bottom line: Don’t worry too much that we’ll suddenly have a ton of ads in our push notifications. Apple’s guidelines still say “Do not use Apple Services to spam, phish, or send unsolicited messages to customers, including Game Center, Push Notifications, etc.”

Ultimately, you might get a few more push notifications that let you know about sales or other useful information from apps you have installed on your iPhone. Remember, though, you have to agree to let it happen, and you can opt-out at any time. That’s not too horrible, is it?

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