Apple Shares More Details on Parental Control App Crackdown

Following an email from Phil Schiller to a MacRumors reader yesterday addressing a report from The New York Times on Apple's removal of a number of App Store apps focused on screen time monitoring and parental controls, Apple has issued a public statement sharing additional perspective on the situation.

apple screen time screen icons
The statement, entitled "The facts about parental control apps," is very similar in its details to the email from Schiller, highlighting how Apple "became aware" over the last year that these apps were using Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology to monitor all of the activity occurring on the user's device or devices used by their family members.

MDM technology is intended for enterprise users to manage their company-owned devices, and Apple says the use of MDM by consumer-focused apps carries privacy and security concerns that resulted in Apple addressing the situation in its ‌App Store‌ review guidelines in mid-2017.

Apple says that it notified developers of apps affected by its crackdown on this disallowed usage of MDM, giving them 30 days to modify their apps before pulling them from the ‌App Store‌.

Parents shouldn’t have to trade their fears of their children’s device usage for risks to privacy and security, and the App Store should not be a platform to force this choice. No one, except you, should have unrestricted access to manage your child’s device.

When we found out about these guideline violations, we communicated these violations to the app developers, giving them 30 days to submit an updated app to avoid availability interruption in the App Store. Several developers released updates to bring their apps in line with these policies. Those that didn’t were removed from the App Store.

Apple also directly addressed observations in this weekend's report that the move gives the appearance of anticompetitive behavior:

Apple has always supported third-party apps on the App Store that help parents manage their kids’ devices. Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security.

While Apple is firm in stating that competition did not play a role in its crackdown on these apps, the timing is certainly curious. Apple began the crackdown shortly after rolling out its Screen Time feature in iOS 12 last September, despite several of these apps having used MDM for a number of years.


Developers quoted in The New York Times and who have spoken to MacRumors have also expressed frustration with Apple's original communication on the issue. The developers detailed multiple attempts to obtain more information on exactly what changes needed to be made to their apps, but Apple's support staff reportedly either failed to respond or provided unhelpful and non-specific responses before pulling the affected apps.

Top Rated Comments

realtuner Avatar
45 months ago
Apple is obviously trying to avoid an investigation into their anti competitive actions. More than one group has accused apple of anti competitive behavior. Innocent until proven guilty doesn't mean no investigation should take place.
Except there are no anti-competitive actions. Just whiny developers who got caught abusing enterprise certificates looking to shift the blame to Apple. They’ve all copied the Daniel Ek (Spotify CEO) playbook of whine.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
briko Avatar
45 months ago
If it's true that developers were abusing MDM, then it highlights a long-existing problem with the App store: the shoddy app review process. This certainly is not the first time that Apple removed existing apps after they "became aware" that some feature was being abused. Often times, Apple is the one making these features available to developers, so it's especially shocking that they can't more easily identify this abuse.

That 30% cut Apple takes from every transaction is supposedly there to support the App Store ecosystem. The review process is supposed to be screening apps for quality and conformance to rules and guidelines. Where is all that money going? It certainly isn't going into app discovery or search functionality. To this day, I can search for an app by name, but the top result is an advertisement for something completely different. That's the kind of thing you'd expect from Google, not form from a service that already collects a sizable portion of revenue from the developers on the platform.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
realtuner Avatar
45 months ago
It is nice apple responded but it should be under oath in court.
Can't be in court since nothing wrong was done. Nice try.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ateslik Avatar
45 months ago
Screentime is missing a major feature: ability to request unlock remotely versus having to do it on the device directly.
You’re wrong. The kids request unlock from me all the time via remote. I grant it sometimes, and sometimes I don’t, as it is designed. Works great.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
citysnaps Avatar
45 months ago
Hey Phil, while you are at it, why not fix all the bugs and glitches associated with the screen time feature?
How long ago did you inform Apple about the bugs and glitches you're experiencing?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pepe4life Avatar
45 months ago
Hey Phil, while you are at it, why not fix all the bugs and glitches associated with the screen time feature?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

ipad pro m1 feature

Gurman: Apple Event This October Remains Unlikely, No Touch ID for iPhone 15

Sunday October 2, 2022 6:41 am PDT by
Apple is developing new iPad Pro, Mac, and Apple TV models, and at least some of these products will be released in October, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. However, Gurman continues to believe that Apple is unlikely to hold an event this month. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said "the big iPhone 14 unveiling last month was probably it for Apple in 2022 in...
maxresdefault

Apple Responds to Video Testing Crash Detection Feature With Junkyard Vehicles

Friday September 30, 2022 9:11 am PDT by
The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern recently traveled to Michigan to test Apple's new crash detection feature on the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra. In response, Apple provided some additional information about how the feature works. Stern recruited Michael Barabe to crash his demolition derby car with a heavy-duty steel frame into two unoccupied vehicles parked in a junkyard — a 2003...
Hero0005

Best Apple Deals of the Week: M2 MacBook Air Hits New All-Time Low Price at $1,049, Plus Sales on AirPods Pro and More

Friday September 30, 2022 9:05 am PDT by
This week's best Apple deals focus on the AirPods Pro, AirPods Pro 2, and M2 MacBook Air, including numerous all-time low prices on these devices. You'll also find up to 50 percent off discounts on Anker and Eufy accessories on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us...
Apple SIM Card

Apple SIM No Longer Available for Activating New Cellular Data Plans on iPads

Sunday October 2, 2022 8:04 am PDT by
As of October 1, Apple SIM is no longer available for activating new cellular data plans on supported iPad models, according to an Apple support document. Introduced in 2014, the Apple SIM was designed to allow iPad users to activate cellular data plans from multiple carriers around the world. Initially, the Apple SIM was a physical nano-SIM card, but it was embedded inside later iPad Pro...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
iOS 16 Wallpaper Spectrum Feature

Five Wallpaper Apps to Check Out for iOS 16's New Lock Screen Depth Effect

Thursday September 29, 2022 9:08 am PDT by
One of the biggest new features in iOS 16 is a completely redesigned iPhone Lock Screen. The new Lock Screen is entirely customizable, letting you change the colors and fonts, add widgets and new wallpapers, and more to make your iPhone uniquely yours. Of course, even before iOS 16, you could customize your Lock Screen with a wallpaper of your choice. iOS 16 takes the Lock Screen wallpaper...
top stories 1oct2022

Top Stories: Stage Manager Expands to Older iPad Pro Models, No October Apple Event?

Saturday October 1, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
While we had been expecting a follow-up October Apple event focused on Mac and iPad announcements, it sounds like we might not be getting another event after all. Instead, the pending updates in those product segments could be considered minor enough that they may be announced via press releases. It wasn't all bad news, however, with Apple announcing that it will be expanding an on-device...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.0.3 With More Bug Fixes Following iPhone 14 Launch

Monday October 3, 2022 7:53 am PDT by
iOS 16.0.2 was released last month with several bug fixes for iPhone 14 issues, excessive copy and paste permission prompts, and more. Now, evidence suggests that Apple is planning to release iOS 16.0.3 with additional bug fixes. Evidence of an upcoming iOS 16.0.3 software update has shown up in MacRumors analytics logs, which have been a reliable indicator in the past. There are several...
dynamic island alan dye

Apple Executives Talk About iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island in New Interview

Sunday October 2, 2022 10:48 am PDT by
In a new interview, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, and Apple's vice president of human interface design, Alan Dye, sat down to discuss the thinking behind the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island and how it was developed. During the interview with the Japanese magazine Axis, Federighi, who oversees the development of iOS, said Dynamic Island represents the...