Back in June, Apple held the Worldwide Developers Conference and during this event it was announced that developers which are deploying apps onto Apple’s App Store platform will need to apply the company’s ATS policy. ATS is App Transport Security and the deadline for this feature’s implementation was set to the 1st of January 2017. What this whole thing means exactly is that developers were asked to encrypt the communications that occur on their apps. As Apple initially set up a deadline for this change, it now looks like the Mac manufacturer is giving developers more time.
Prior to Apple’s ATS, developers would create app communications using third party frameworks which were considerably less effective in contrast. The new ATS feature allows app developers to encrypt communications using HTTPS and thus scoring much higher on the efficiency board. This isn’t exactly a new feature as ATS has been around since iOS 9. It’s a more complicated situation as far as the relation between Apple and its developers goes.
In a brief statement, Apple gave developers an update as to what was to be expected. It reminded the community about the fact that last year it first came out with ATS, and went on to specify that the deadline for implementation has been extended. Towards the frustration of many, this message did not include a precise or even vague date for that matter. According to Apple, more details on what’s to come and the fate of ATS will be arriving in the near future.
On one hand, Apple had been forcing developers to encrypt with HTTPS for inter-server connectivity, but at the same time offered several options for how app developers are affected by ATS. Among these options, developers had the option of completely dumping the feature, although it is unknown what the fate of that option will be. That’s not to say that it’s for the better, as many of the recorded cases show a weaker and more vulnerable setup where developers tinkered with the original settings for ATS. Going way above the 90% mark, the amount of apps within the best 200 that went around some measures put in place by Apple goes to show how the community reacted to the feature.
While some app developers might just not agree with ATS fully, some simply aren’t able to comply with Apple’s requirements yet, that being the reason why they bypass certain options within ATS. Apple is certainly looking to enforce ATS as soon as possible, with the feature being debated as a requirements for App store acceptance. What that means is that people who want their app in the Apple App Store have to feature ATS into their product. The only cases where an app wouldn’t fully abide ATS requirements would have to be heavily justified. So far, Apple only managed to push its developer community towards a 5% active ATS app base. This only comes as a 2% increase from the previous amount which was 3%.
The situation hardly comes as a surprise for anyone that has been keeping up with the app standards. Most iOS app developers and competent entities would have told you that Apple needs to give them more time if it wants them to comply to their ATS regulations. In its current state and app spread, ATS isn’t going to be fully operational and found on all iOS apps for quite a long time to come. With that in mind, people are wondering whether Apple identified their mistake and the reason for which we aren’t seeing any new deadline announced is because it has been sate yet. It could be that Apple is still trying to figure out if it wants to pursue this initiative or alter/remove it in the end.
With 2017 comes a fresh start and an opportunity for Apple to re-think some of its strategies. It definitely looks like the company is taking its time deciding the fate of ATS and how it can be integrated into today’s app industry. The only thing we can hope for is a new deadline or at the very least a new update letting everyone know what the situation looks like. In any case, we won’t seeing an App Store full of ATS compliant applications any time soon due to the sheer complexity of the project, and the changes that need to be made before this initiative can succeed. The upcoming weeks should hold more answers for wary developers and skeptical app creators.