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Wow! I want to see how Apple and Google will treat this hole in the wall of their walled gardens. Updates that don't go through their app stores.

Apple at least already allows this for Javascript based apps, particularly Meteor as an example: http://info.meteor.com/blog/apple-hot-code-push-mobile

When talking about Apple, I find it easier to think of just two state for apps (that use this): Rejected and not-yet-rejected. Also, there aren't App Store _rules_, they're just guidelines. Apple is still able to pick and choose that they enforce and reject apps for their own reasons.

For this particular issue, Apple allows apps to dynamically download Javascript and other web tech (in order for web browsers to work), and they explicitly mention that they're not into you pushing big updates:

    provided that such scripts and code do not change the primary purpose of
    the Application by providing features or functionality that are inconsistent
    with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application as submitted
    to the App Store.

As always, the App Review Team gets the final say on a case-by-case basis for whether you'll get through or not.

Why cynical? Apple specifically added a carve out for JavaScript. A big update is fine as long as you arent changing the purpose of the app.

Not cynical, just realistic and speaking from past personal (and others) experience of Apple rejecting apps for whatever reason they feel like (if any).

IMO, Apple specifically carved out the exception for JS for WebKit/WebViews, to make using web views in apps possible. I'm quite certain they didn't have in mind React Native[1] auto-downloading JS bundles to bypass App Review. Apple wouldn't be a fan of that.

Now, the complete opposite of this is their favoured tech for developing new Apple TV apps, TVML, explicitly allows and is designed for updates bypassing App Review. In fact, most of the app logic and UI is delivered from your own server.

[1] Actually, the guidelines mentions 'WebKit framework'. Does React Native use 'WebKit framework'? Edit: It uses JavaScriptCore which I guess is a part of WebKit http://trac.webkit.org/wiki/JavaScriptCore

Because "purpose" is totally open to [Apple's] interpretation.

This isn't really a hole. This has existed forever. Apps could always embed webviews and load files from the local filesystem.

You weren't allowed to update over the wire until last year. The JavaScript carve out is particularly important.

You could, and still are, able to download html/javascript/css to the phone, and then load those files in a web view.

Apple will no doubt disapprove any App that uses this. Google has always been "ok" with apps that install directly so presumably it won't really bother them. Obviously Microsoft will support it in Apps they sell through the Windows app store.

Given the stuff you can change its pretty clear you could completely change the user experience. So yes, it would be a pretty big "hole" in the app experience management policy.

Apple has already given permission to update anything that uses HTML/JAVASCRIPT. Which react native does.

Wrong. Many apps that have been in the app store for years use this technique. Apple in fact explicitly allows this.

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