When we started developing custom apps in 2014, we were able to create individual apps for churches at a very low cost. Churches were able to have their very own mobile app without having to pay the earth for a custom developed app. The apps would be available in Apple and Android stores with integration for iKnow Church as well as a number of resources available to non-logged in users such as podcasts, calendar view, social feed as well as receiving push notifications.
Since then, particularly since 2017 as the number of apps reached a few million in Apple and Android stores, there came stricter rules on what types of apps could be created. Apple had an individual approve each app before it was released, and there were numerous times when apps created by iKnow were rejected by Apple for no good reason, often involving back and forth answering their questions until they then approved them. As an example, one particular time in 2017 iKnow submitted apps for 3 separate churches with exactly the same functionality - 2 were approved straight away and 1 was rejected. The rejected one involved us having a conversation with an Apple employee in California to try and get this app approved. Over time, the number of apps in the Apple and Android stores has increased, along with the security and verification measures. This has exponentially increased complexity and difficulties for companies to produce bespoke, unique apps for individual organisations. With further measures taken by Apple and Android to ensure apps hosted on their stores are relevant and current, it has become an immensely difficult task to produce unique apps for churches.
Apple then required each organisation to have their own Apple Developer account which, for charities, did not cost anything, it did create extra work and requirements for the charity, particularly as the verification process could take time. Prior to this, we were able to manage all the apps within our own Developer account making the process simpler and requiring little involvement from the church.
In 2019 we launched our own iKnow Church app which was free for churches to use and could be used by any of our churches and their members at no additional cost. We’ve added further functionality to this app over the years since then.
Because of the success of the iKnow Church app, and the extra complexities around the Custom Apps, we took the decision in 2022 to withdraw the Custom App for any new churches.
Over the last 18 months we have had additional requirements from both Apple and Google (including one in August where we had 2 weeks notice), requiring app developers to update all of their apps. Creating individual apps is a time consuming process, even when it is a minor update. As a result we’ve taken the decision to pause Custom App development and updates for the foreseeable future so we can focus on the main iKnow Church software and the iKnow Church app.
We realise this is disappointing for churches that have a Custom App and we hoped that we wouldn’t need to make this decision. There may be a time in the future when we can re-introduce the Custom App (Although pricing may be different) but for now we are not able to do that due to the time that Custom Apps require for development, building and submission to the App stores. For churches that have a Custom App, we can reset the account so you can use the iKnow Church app and will credit your account for the previous 2 months where you have been paying for your Custom App without the ability to use it.
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