Apple Publishes App Store Review Guidelines

Following the publishing of a brief statement on App Store Review Guidelines this morning, Apple has released its App Store Review Guidelines. Engadget posted a link to the full document, a 7-page PDF describing what’s acceptable when it comes to an app’s functionality, its use of push notifications, location data, and much more.

After many instances where developers have experienced inexplicable delays in seeing their apps approved or had their apps abruptly removed after approval, these guidelines will likely be useful for developers to ensure they’re working on products that will be accepted by Apple.

In the document’s introduction, Apple lists a few overall guidelines that are pretty blunt:

  • We have lots of kids downloading lots of apps, and parental controls don’t work unless the parents set them up (many don’t). So know that we’re keeping an eye out for the kids.
  • We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted.
  • If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.
  • We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.
  • If your app is rejected, we have a Review Board that you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps.

In particular, we appreciate the note about fart apps and those that don’t “do something useful” since we’re a little tired of seeing apps that do nothing more than manufacture odd sounds, deliver fake prognostications and trite and useless information on sex and dating, and more ourselves.

Reading through these guidelines reveals that Apple is, as always, clearly concerned about the user experience and security. Explicitly forbidden are apps that do things like pull location or other personal information without the user’s express consent, as are apps that download any code or send unsolicited push notifications.

Just last month, we saw tap tap tap’s Camera+ app removed from the App Store, presumably because the app had an easter egg feature that enabled the iPhone’s volume buttons to be used to trigger the camera’s shutter. Item 10.5 in Apple’s guidelines now clearly states in black and white that this is not acceptable: “Apps that alter the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, will be rejected.”

Another example of an app that was the victim of Apple’s guidelines is Nick Lee’s Handy Light app that included a hidden feature that allowed users to tether a computer to an iPhone to use its cellular data connection to provide an internet connection. Item 2.4 in Apple’s guidelines states “Apps that include undocumented or hidden features inconsistent with the description of the app will be rejected.” Handy Light was pulled from the App Store a few hours after it was released.

All in all, we hope that these guidelines will be prove to be useful to developers so that we can see more high-quality apps in the App Store and fewer apps that offer cheap thrills and little functionality.


Guillermo | Social Media apps

I wish the guidelines would have been published long ago. But better late than never.
I Think that the rules are ok. At the end, they own the store and they have the right to accept only the would apps.
It works like a supermarket. You cannot sell anything in Wallmart. They have quality control and commercial rules too.

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