On June 3, Apple announced an update to its App Store Review Guidelines that impacts all HTML5 apps in the iGaming and iLottery space:
Guideline 4.7. HTML5 games distributed in apps may not provide access to real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations, and may not support digital commerce.
This functionality is only appropriate for code that’s embedded in the binary and can be reviewed by Apple.
This guideline is now enforced for new apps. Existing apps must follow this guideline by September 3, 2019.
What do these changes mean for Jackpocket? Absolutely nothing! We’re proud to say that Jackpocket is built 100% natively using Swift 5. But real money gaming and lottery apps that aren’t compliant? Companies have three months to develop native products, or face removal from the App Store.
This is huge news and will be a big issue for gaming apps and for lotteries that have chosen to implement a white-label HTML5 solution. Built with HTML5 code, these solutions can run on multiple platforms, including iOS, but were not designed specifically for Apple’s native operating system.
So, what gives? Our CEO Pete Sullivan breaks it all down.
Why the policy shift?
From our point of view, Apple’s policy shift is happening for two major reasons.
1. Apple wants to ensure the App Store is full of apps that leverage the full potential of its extremely robust platform.
HTML5 and hybrid apps are historically clunkier and slower than native apps, and don’t follow the best protocols in terms of UI/UX. Additionally, they can’t take advantage of all the built-in functionality of Apple’s platform or use 3rd party SDKs (software developer’s kits) that are only accessible in Objective-C, Swift or other Apple supported programing languages. Apple has invested an enormous amount of time and resources into Swift 5, and it wants developers to build the most compelling products with it.
2. HTML5 leaves Apple open to huge potential risk.
Apps currently go through an in-depth review and approval process before they are added to the App Store. Even for app updates. After Apple fully vets the changes and approves them, the idea persists that the app won’t update until the next official version is submitted through Apple’s review process.
But apps that utilize HTML5 can call onto a server and essentially “update” the software, game, or interface without being resubmitted to Apple. Imagine Apple being put in a position where they approve an app or game that is compliant around particular regulations, and then that app gets updated on the fly and becomes non-compliant. It’s a huge risk.
What’s next for lotteries developing iLottery products?
You could say that lotteries are at a tech crossroads. So, what can state lotteries learn from the new App Store policy in terms of providing the best lottery product for the future?
“The build once, deploy many” approach may not pay off in the long run.
White-label solutions that follow this approach use the same codebase for Android and iOS, versus investing in a full iOS product. With that decision, they sacrifice user experience and performance for speed and cost.
Recruiting top technology talent is challenging, but key.
One reason it’s cheaper to build HTML5-based apps is that it’s much easier to find developers that code in that language. Finding good Swift developers is difficult and expensive. Finding great ones is nearly impossible. (But we’ve got ’em at Jackpocket!)
Maintaining your codebase is essential…
Most apps in the App Store only get updated every 6 months to a year! In order to stay on top of the latest technologies, platform changes, and user experiences, you need to update your app regularly. At Jackpocket, we introduce new versions every 2 weeks using continuous integration and deployments. Our players are then assured we’re always thinking about their individual experience and taking their product recommendations into consideration, building trust and loyalty along the way.
…but it’s easier said than done.
It’s going to be very difficult for the incumbent iLottery companies to maintain separate codebases for each jurisdiction. Being a multi-jurisdictional brand allows Jackpocket to keep the highest level of technology and codebase, through one app that’s available in multiple locations.
The bottom line?
Building a high-quality, cutting-edge product is difficult, and should be left to technology companies like Jackpocket that are incentivized to deliver the very best user experience. This demand makes us fully focused on providing the ultimate lottery play experience: a fun, simple ordering process, flexible payment options, social pooling, and a secure experience validated by third-party assessment.
Want to learn more? Check out Pete’s comments on the new App Store Review Guidelines in La Fleur’s Magazine.