Is Apple Violating Its Own Rules with Self-Promotional Push Notifications?

Iphone Promotion Notification Credit: Steve Lederer / Twitter
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Some Apple users are accusing the company of violating its own App Store guidelines after a series of promotional push notifications.

Over the past few weeks, Apple has used several of its first-party applications to send out a slew of push notifications. Perhaps more importantly, those notifications were used to promote or advertise the company’s new services or products.

Apple’s Promotional Notifications

For example, Apple sent out a push notification on Tuesday informing Apple Music users that the streaming platform was now supported on Amazon Echo.

And last week, users took to Twitter to complain about receiving a push notification from the TV app promoting a CarPool Karaoke episode with Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber.

To be clear, Apple has used the TV app to send out promotional push notifications in the past. But it’s hard to ignore that Apple has become a bit “notification crazy” over the last month.

In addition to the aforementioned notifications, Apple also sent other promotional notifications through the Apple Store, App Store and Apple Music — promoting iPhone trade-in prices, iPhone XR and XS purchases through the iPhone Upgrade Program, HomePod discounts and App Store credits.

Some of these push notifications seem to be targeted. The App Store credit promotion, for example, was only sent out in certain markets (even though the bonus credit is available to everyone). Others, like the CarPool Karaoke episode, were seemingly pushed to a wider range of consumers.

Is Apple Violating Its Own Guidelines?

As you might expect, quite a few people aren’t happy about the flurry of unwanted push notifications — and some are even claiming that Apple is violating its own App Store guidelines.

Those guidelines forbid push notifications from being required to use an app, but they also state that push notifications “should not be used for advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes.”

In addition, there’s a section of the guidelines that urges developers not to “spam, phish or send unsolicited messages to customers.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that Apple created the App Store guidelines for registered third-party developers — not itself.

Apple doesn’t need to get its own apps approved through the App Review process. So, from a legal standpoint, those guidelines likely don’t apply to its own apps. That goes for apps that come preinstalled or first-party apps that must be downloaded from the App Store.

How to Deal with Annoying Notifications

If you’re particularly annoyed by random notifications, you can turn them off for Apple’s apps by going to

  1. Settings
  2. Notifications.
  3. Just tap on the problematic app, then tap the toggle next to Allow Notifications.

Alternatively, you can swipe left on a notification and select Manage. From here, you can either set notifications from that app to Deliver Quietly, or just turn them off entirely.

Of course, these methods all-or-nothing propositions — there isn’t any granular notification control available.

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