As some of you may have heard, the Ionic View app was removed from the app store by Apple last week and is still unavailable in the store as of today (it is still available on Android, of course). In the interest of transparency, I want to update the community on what is going on and our thoughts on how we move forward.

The story starts two weeks ago when we received an Apple App Store rejection for our Ionic View app, an app that helps developers test their Ionic apps as they build them.

Initially, the rejection was for the use of a QR code to allow developers and testers to quickly load an app. We removed the QR code and disabled public app testing, and resubmitted. A week later, our app was rejected again and removed from the store by Apple due to something we missed as we fixed the QR code issue. We fixed that mistake and resubmitted but at that point the app was already out of the store.

Today, a week after the last resubmission, we received notice that our app violates a different part of the App Store ToS, specifically 2.5.2 that specifies “Apps should be self-contained in their bundles, and may not read or write data outside the designated container area, nor may they download, install, or execute code, including other apps.” This is a grey area in the ToS that we have always felt in compliance with, considering Ionic View merely loads web content like a custom web browser, and is incapable of executing any additional native code outside of the binary we ship to the app store. In fact, later sections of the App Store ToS explicitly mention that loading outside code is okay as long as it uses WebKit or JavaScriptCore, though the developer testing nature of Ionic View is admittedly different from the traditional use case of an app loading web content updates.

After over two years of no problems, this was a surprise to us!

We have been in contact with other cross-platform tooling companies, even those not based on Cordova or WebViews, and they have received similar rejections or threats of rejection from Apple. This indicates that Apple is changing their policy against developer testing apps in general, and if that is the case, we expect that all cross-platform tooling companies will have their testing apps removed from the app store soon.

To be clear, this issue does not mean that Apple is rejecting hybrid or JavaScript apps. Rather, it is isolated to developer testing apps. Any claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate and we have received zero reports from the Ionic community that their apps are being rejected.

We are working with Apple to find a solution. In the meantime, we are working on a way forward that lets us achieve the main goal of View to make it easier for developers to build apps quickly, while being compliant with App Store guidelines.

Thank you for your understanding, and stay tuned for updates as we receive them from Apple.

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  • Matt

    This is very unfortunate news, Apple is just the worst with their moving targets. I had a social networking app rejected because a user had created a group with the word “test” in the name. The review process always seems to be a gamble at best :/

  • AvivCallander

    Will this also affect apps that have the push updates feature?

    • yesimahuman

      No, Apple explicitly allows this functionality in 4.7 for apps that perform updates using WebKit (or JavaScriptCore), which is how this functionality is implemented, as long as the app maintains its expressed functionality. Both Deploy and Microsoft’s CodePush work this way. See the guidelines here:

  • Phil

    Unfortunately this is the norm for Apple. They want everyone to stay within their own ecosystem and use their testing app TestFlight.

  • Scott Bolinger

    That sucks. We have a developer testing app in the store too, we’ll see if they take it down.

  • PG Apps

    That’s why I hate Apple and its burocracy. They always take more time than the rest of the world to implement industry standards and you have to pay to publish in their store. They are so special…

  • davidgeller

    This happened years ago with Titanium – though they didn’t have a specific testing app. They were, at the time, even questioning the whole notion of Javascript apps. It’s very unfortunate. They clearly don’t have a consistent policy here and I’d argue that a vast number of sophisticated games are shells for things built on Unity and other platforms and go against Apple’s policies on loading code. Also, Apple’s own learning app for Swift would appear to break their own rules. These are the VERY SPECIFIC reasons why I so enjoy building PWAs with Ionic. I’m tired of the App Store hassle.

  • davidgeller

    I’d recommend you reach out to your local representatives and state Senators and see if they’re interested in exploring this deeper, on your behalf.

  • Jesse

    Thank you for sharing this Max.
    I think this is an unfortunate misstep by Apple, they seem to be doing this a lot lately.
    Ultimately any browser would appear to break this rule as defined.

  • Sam

    Any update on this. When can we expect a way out on this. I have built a new app, yet to share with users.

  • Corey Roth

    What about open sourcing the entire app and posting the code to GitHub and let people just download it and deploy it to their devices on their own.

  • Jaime Lossada

    How is this going? Any news?

  • Jay Jungalwala

    Any update on this? Not having Ionic View support for iOS is a HUGE drawback — we can’t launch new version of our app until this is resolved.

  • Grant

    Currently I’m utilising Firebase hosting in order to save the PWA online as a demo for my Apple-only clients. Perhaps Ionic can work on something similar to Ionic Lab that demonstrates a faux iPhone simulation containing the PWA within that utilises a CLI built-in hosting deployment for continuous development. This could alleviate some of the developer and client stresses posed by Apple – as this standoff probably isn’t going to see a resolution where Apple allows code execution within an app specifically for the grey area Ionic poses.

  • Jim Young

    What alternatives besides FireBase are out there to test Ionic apps? Can TestFlight be used to test Ionic apps? Drawback is having to need UUIDs. Any suggestions?

  • lilian brun

    Just for the record… TestFlight is down too !

    • Chris Madsen

      Why would TestFlight be down, it is maintained by Apple.

  • Kåre Skuland

    Hi. Any news on this?

  • Felipe Esteves

    Hello Gents. We’d need an alternative. This is the most great feature of Ionic.Something even on the browser. something must be done ASAP.

  • Facundo Decaminada

    any news? i just had paid the private share to show to my ciients with iOS and they cannot download the viewer

  • Biafra Radio

    Put the .ipa file here so that we can download it for the moment. Thanks.

  • Cédric Jullien

    unavailable this day… -(

  • Hari Gadiraju

    Guys…why not just give us an enterprise build or even the XCODE project of the IONIC View so we can install it locally on our machines.

  • Nicholas Houle

    Any update to report?

  • sykespro

    Started my first app using Ionic 3, created a Pro account and know I’m questioning is this a good investment. There is no notice during the Pro signup process that mention this issue. I want to be optimistic. Please provide an update…

    • Matt Netkow, Ionic Team

      Hi there, we understand your pain! Unfortunately, Apple’s decision has forced us to sunset Ionic View, as View doesn’t have much value when only used on a single platform or as a self-signed app. More info here, including next steps:

  • Clement Ng

    Is there any latest updates on when will the Ionic View available in the Apps Store? It had been 2 months since the removal and yet this is the only update that had been announced. Please provide an alternative solution if possible. At least some updates on the progress would do.

    • fluxx

      I second this. I understand it’s not the fault of Ionic at all, but this app was crucial for my workflow. I would highly appreciate an update, even if the update means no solution yet.

    • Matt Netkow, Ionic Team
  • Abdul Osman

    How is this going? Any news?

  • Abdul Osman

    where is ionic view ??

  • dianikol

    Guys using TestFlight for ios is not that bad. You can’t upload your app 10 times in a day maybe but this shouldn’t be an issue