Apple has revised its App Store guidelines to allow apps built using templates and other app-generation services. The decision -- a one-eighty on its previous policy that banned such apps in the name of preserving quality -- is supposed to make it easier for small businesses and non-profits to offer their own apps without the expense or expertise of building their own. But it's Apple, so there are of course some caveats.
While it's now fine for organizations to use an app template, they have to be the ones to publish the app in the App Store, not the building service. This means that despite the lack of in-house expertise pushing them to use such a service in the first place, they'll still have to be up to speed with licensing agreements and have an understanding of the app publishing process. But, to take out the sting, Apple says that from early 2018 it'll do away with the $99 developer fee for government and non-profits.
Apple seems to have turned its attention away from the way apps are being made, and is now focusing on their combined impact in the field. It doesn't want apps to look too similar, and it doesn't want them to just operate as a wraparound for what could simply be a website. Of course, some could argue a broad similarity makes them easier to use (everyone will know where the menu button is, for instance), while a standalone app, similar as it may be to the company's website, offers them autonomy from the larger companies --Just Eat and Facebook, for example -- which they're otherwise reliant on for space in the digital sphere.
The requirements in place could still prove limiting, particularly for the kinds of businesses that would take advantage of this change. However, Apple ultimately wants to open up its app ecosystem to more authentic users, and doing away with the ban on app templates is a good start.