Room for improvement: Apple allows developers to transfer apps using iCloud

Apple has long restricted the transfer of apps to other developer accounts. This year the possibilities have been significantly expanded.

Air up: Apple allows developers to transfer apps using iCloud

Apps, using Apple’s iCloud can now be transferred from one developer account to another. What sounds like a matter of course was not possible for a long time: it has long been possible to transfer apps that, for example, were sold by a developer to a company or were to be moved from a private to a company account – but only if they are not using cloud capabilities at Apple. However, since the iCloud is used by many developers and Apple also praises these functions, the non-portability was an obstacle. It is not known exactly how many developers were affected.

What developers use iCloud for

Apple introduced the iCloud functions for developers called CloudKit with iOS 8 at the WWDC developer conference introduced in 2014. There are three ways for apps to access Apple’s cloud. In the simplest case, key-value pairs are stored (key-value storage). This simple procedure is suitable if, for example, individual values ​​and settings are to be easily stored in the cloud. These are then available to the respective app on all devices that are logged into iCloud with the same Apple ID.

Then there are iCloud containers. In these there is a public and a private database. As with the apps at the system level of the iPhones and iPads, these storage areas are also sealed off from one another in the cloud. However, developers can share some data with each other on multiple apps all coming from them. In addition, developers also have the option of storing user files in the iCloud with their apps.

The iCloud is one of several factors in which apps in Apple’s ecosystem are linked to Apple’s services and individual developers . For example, when moving apps, developers must also remember to take precautions to ensure that push notifications, Apple Pay, the “Sign in with Apple” login service, and others continue to work after the move. Apple has support documents for this on its developer websites.

App transfer has existed since 2013

There is the option of transferring apps from your own developer account at Apple to another only since 2013. Since the personalized access cannot be redesignated, apps sold to another developer, for example, had to be completely removed from the App Store before the transfer was introduced and resubmitted with the other account. Existing users no longer received updates and the developers lost their previous ratings.

Where Apple slowed down the transfers

App transfer made things better – if it was possible. In addition to the previously missing iCloud support, there was also the temporary restriction that Apple developers of the App Store Small Business Programs were not allowed to transfer their apps. In the program, which launched in 2020, approved developers pay just 15 percent of each sale instead of the usual 30 percent to Apple. Developers who earn less than one million US dollars per year with their apps are allowed to participate. In February 2022, Apple changed the rules to allow app transfers in the program.

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