A couple of days ago, Apple announced the following on its developer portal:

Beginning January 9, app screenshots will be locked in iTunes Connect once your app has been approved. New screenshots may be uploaded when you submit a binary for an update to an existing app or a new app.

This obliterates a common tactic used by scammers, where they’d get a crappy app approved and then later switch out the grabs to mock-ups or even images from entirely different games. The process was memorably outlined on the Panic blog, where ‘Mooncraft’ turned out to be not exactly like Minecraft, instead being a really basic block-dropping game.

Well known iOS developer Matt Gemmell was positive about Apple’s decision, but I’ve since seen plenty of bellyaching on forums. “Why should the majority be punished to deal with a relatively small number of scammers?” “It’s so unfair that I can’t now update my grabs all the time, for marketing!” “Apple’s walled garden just became even more walled!”

Aside from the fact developers should more often be showing off their apps without added crap in App Store grabs (as I point out in How to boost the chances of getting your iOS game reviewed, part of my press tips series), devs should realise something very simple yet important about Apple’s update: it benefits everyone.

Users can now look at an App Store grab and be sure that’s the app they’re going to get. This means they will be more likely to trust the system and more likely to use it. That leads to increased income. The compromise: you can’t change your App Store grabs approximately every six seconds; but perhaps that’s not even a negative thing and could lead to more developers carefully considering the grabs they upload, rather than bunging something up quickly and figuring they can make things better later.