New App Store Guidelines Affect Many Catholic Church Apps

We are living in a world of fast-paced technology and Apple has always been at the forefront of the tech space. Apple recently released iPhone X as well as the new version of the Apple Watch.

Many people watched these announcements with excitement at being able to add their facial expressions to an emoji, but there was another announcement made during this presentation that slipped under the radar; the new guidelines for the Apple App Store.

These guideline changes are directly affecting most parish apps in the App Store today. Here is a quote from a Tech Crunch article highlighting some of these changes:

“Following its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple released updated App Store guidelines that included a new rule allowing it to ban apps created by a ‘commercialized template or app generation service.’ Many companies have recently been given a January 1, 2018 deadline, after which point any new apps they submit will be rejected by the App Store Review team, they’ve been told by Apple. In the meantime, some have been able to maintain their existing apps, but it’s unclear how long that will last.”


This change to what kinds of apps will be allowed in the App Store (Apple Developer Guideline 4.2.6) has already been causing a stir among a number of church app companies. The new guideline reads as follows:

4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences. Another acceptable option for template providers is to create a single binary to host all client content in an aggregated or “picker” model, for example as a restaurant finder app with separate customized entries or pages for each client restaurant, or as an event app with separate entries for each client event.

So what does this mean for my church?

Starting January 1, 2018, Apple is going to start rejecting new church app submissions to the App Store where the app is built on the same template (looks and functions the same) as other apps. Some existing apps may be allowed to remain in the App Store for a period of time.

Many app companies, including the church app companies listed below, offer services for small businesses, events, or churches to easily build an app with unique content but the structure and functionality of the app are the same as all others produced by the app company. This has resulted in thousands of business, organization, and church apps that look and function the same. Apple would like to see more unique, customized and innovative apps being developed for users. Cutting down on the clutter of ineffective Apps in the App Store is one step they are taking to head in this direction.

Church app companies affected by new App Store guidelines
These companies have acknowledged publicly that they are being affected

  • Aware3 Apps
  • Custom Church Apps
  • eChurch
  • Subsplash
  • Seraphim ChurchApp

Other companies that may be affected include Parish Solutions, Liturgical Publications, and Our Sunday Visitor (formerly Catholic Parish Apps). We have not seen public confirmation yet regarding these companies.

Does this affect my church?

Affected: If your church currently has its own app on the App Store with a unique icon and name, your app company is likely affected by this new rule. (Example: St. Mary’s Church tells parishioners to download the St. Mary’s app on the App Store.)

NOT Affected: If your church has an app within a universal app, such as myParish, then your app company is NOT affected. (Example: St. Mary’s Church tells parishioners to download myParish App in the App Store, then search for St. Mary’s within the app.)

What should I do?

If you think your app company is affected by this new guideline, we suggest the following:

  1. Contact the company and ask for confirmation that your parish’s app will remain in the App Store.
  2. Confirm that your parish app meets the new guidelines set by Apple.
  3. Confirm that your app will continue to receive updates (without updates it will quickly become outdated).
  4. Ask your app company what their long-term plan is for developing new apps. With the amount of time and cost associated with development, some companies will not have a compliant app available by the deadline.

Other Solutions

If your church is looking for a new app and you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on an app development company, you will want to consider a universal (consolidated) app. Universal apps, such as myParish, provide the same features (and more) as a template-based app. Universal apps also have greater familiarity among parishioners and churches and are easier to find in the App Store because more people know about them. It is a lot easier to find an app with a unique name than to scroll through a list of 100 church apps named St. Mary’s.

myParish App, the leading Catholic parish app on the market, will not be affected by these changes because it was built from the ground up as a universal app and not template-based.

As a company, we want to make sure your needs are met during this time of uncertainty. To learn more about myParish App you can visit our website.

If you need any assistance or clarification on how these changes may affect your parish, feel free to call our customer support line at 1-800-997-8805. We are dedicated to giving you the best knowledge and service.


For further information here are links to supporting articles:

Let us know how we can help you accomplish your communication and evangelization needs. From all of us here at myParish App, God Bless!

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