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
33 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
33 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
33 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
33 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
33 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
33 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)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
bluetti eb70 main

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Bluetti EB70 Portable Power Station and 200W Solar Panel

Friday September 3, 2021 11:13 am PDT by
For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with MAXOAK to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a Bluetti portable power station and an accompanying solar panel. Bluetti makes a range of portable power station options that are useful for camping, emergencies, power outages, off-grid living, and similar situations. The Bluetti EB70 is a solid middle of the road option that offers 716Wh and...
personal hotspot 1

Apple Acknowledges Personal Hotspot Issues Affecting Some iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 Users

Saturday March 21, 2020 10:04 am PDT by
In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has acknowledged that some iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 users may experience issues with Personal Hotspot. Apple has told Authorized Service Providers to expect customers who are unable to connect to a Personal Hotspot or experience frequent disconnection from one. Customers may also...
iphone 13 teal with text

Apple Begins Preparation for iPhone 13 Production Ahead of Fall Launch

Monday June 28, 2021 3:29 am PDT by
We're just a few months away from when Apple is expected to reveal the 2021 iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 13." In preparation for its launch, it has been pulling in shipments of different components needed to produce the new iPhones, according to a report from DigiTimes. In years past, Apple released its latest iPhone lineup, alongside a new Apple Watch, during a September event at Apple Park....
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Partners With Delta to Provide Free In-Flight Music and Podcasts Service

Thursday September 2, 2021 12:59 am PDT by
Spotify has announced a new partnership with Delta that will see the streaming service take over the "audio" section of Delta's in-flight seatback entertainment, making select playlists and podcasts freely available to all passengers. You are now free to roam about the cabin—and get the music and podcasts you love at 30,000 feet. Beginning today, we're taking off in a new partnership with...