Leetmorry Leetmorry -3 years ago 104
iOS Question

App Store rejection due to Firebase phone auth

Our app uses Firebase phone auth. The App Store review has rejected the app due to pushes being required:

Guideline 4.5.4 - Design - Apple Sites and Services

We noticed that your app requires push notifications in order to function.

Specifically, we noticed if the Push Notifications setting was not enabled on our device, we encountered an error message after entering our phone number within the app.

Next Steps

Push notifications must be optional and must obtain the user's consent to be used within the app.

And they've also attached the screenshot that depicts Firebase error "Remote notifications and background fetching need to be set up for the app [...]"

Firebase documentation states that APNs notifications are absolutely required for phone auth to function:


To use phone number authentication, your app must be able to receive APNs notifications from Firebase. When you sign in a user with their phone number for the first time on a device, Firebase Authentication sends a silent push notification to the device to verify that the phone number sign-in request comes from your app. (For this reason, phone number sign-in cannot be used on a simulator.)

However App Store review guidelines state that Push Notifications must not be required in order for the app to function: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/

4.5.4 Push Notifications must not be required for the app to function, and should not be used for advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes or to send sensitive personal or confidential information.

Users need to sign in before they can use the app (the app is about sending digital GIF invitations to your guests and sharing photos), which is why Push Notifications are basically required for the app to function, if the sign in method is Firebase phone auth.

We have tested the app a lot, and the authentication works without a problem when push notifications are enabled (on real devices, both in distribution Ad Hoc builds with production environment and development builds with sandbox environment).

Come to think of it, how did App Review team even disable Push Notifications? The notification center setting does not stop actual pushes, it just doesn't display them.
Setting is turned off
We have tested with this setting off, and firebase phone auth works fine, pushes are still coming through as expected.

I am very surprised with this issue, as Firebase is a huge service provider. Did anyone else encounter this issue?
Are there plans to remove APNs requirement for phone auth? Is there maybe some other way to use Firebase phone auth without pushes?

Answer Source

Firebase support has confirmed this bug and has given the response to this issue:

to me
Thank you for the detailed information Leet. This is indeed an odd situation, and our Phone Auth engineers are taking a look. I'll get back to you as soon as I have an answer.


to me
Hi Leet,

Our engineers are working internally on a long-term fix for this, but in the meantime, would like to meet with you to see if we can figure out a workaround.

It appears that there is indeed a bug in Firebase phone auth / Firebase UI.

While the only solution currently is to wait for Firebase team to fix it, there is an alternative service - Fabric Digits (which Firebase phone auth is aiming to replace). After purchasing Fabric, Google has announced that Digits will be discontinued on September 30th, but untill that time it will remain functional.
We have initially developed the app using Digits, then migrated to Firebase phone auth only to be rejected, and thus reverted back to Digits. Lets hope Firebase team fixes phone auth before September 30th.

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