The developer of Brave Browser, a chromium-based browser that automatically blocks ads and trackers, had to update the iOS version to remove key features in order to comply with Apple's strict App Store regulations. Apple has come under fire in recent times from developers for antitrust practices and for stifling future technology advancement of rivals.
On Thursday, Brave released a new version of the browser for iOS devices – iPhones and iPads. In the new version, the app no longer rewards users for using the browser and opting to view ads. Also, it is no longer possible for users to tip creators, a key feature of Brave.
Following the release of the iOS 14, Apple notified Brave that the Brave Rewards System violated guidelines 3.1.1 and 3.2.2 of the App Store.
“Brave Rewards is built on the Basic Attention Token (BAT) and is a new way to value attention, connecting users, content creators, and advertisers. Users are rewarded in BAT with 70% of the ad revenue share of the privacy-preserving ads they opt into viewing, and they can support content creators they love by rewarding them with BAT. There are currently over 985,000 Brave verified content creators,” the company explained in a blog entry giving the reason for the iOS version update.
Guideline 3.1.1 prohibits an app from allowing users to tip (spend money) unless it is done via in-app purchase through Apple's payment systems. Brave users would transfer the BAT they earned while using the browser to a content creator, through a feature called Tipping. However, after the latest update for the iOS version, that will no longer be possible.
Guideline 3.2.2 prohibits “tasks for cash.” The rule prevents apps from requesting 5-star ratings in exchange for something like points or access to a higher level in a game. Brave was not giving BAT in exchange for favorable ratings. However, somehow Apple saw the opt-in system for viewing ads that rewarded users with BAT as “tasks for cash.”
Although “disappointed” they had to make the changes, Brave encouraged users to continue using the browser as it is still “the same fast and privacy-preserving iOS browser they know.”
The changes only apply to the iOS version of Brave – the desktop and Android version were not affected.