Apple Issues Guidelines For App Developers

by Ferman Aziz

Apple has just released a detailed statement for app developers, explaining what the company expects in terms of content and quality from third party app developers and most importantly, what elements could get an app rejected. If you’re an amateur app developer currently dreaming to make it big by developing the next most widely used iOS app, you need to read these guidelines carefully.

This is the first time Apple is sharing what goes on behind the scenes when an app is submitted for company review and the language used in the document is direct, frank and honest. It’s a wise move to make these rules and regulations public so unnecessary protests and criticism over a rejection can be minimised. Developers are advised to appeal to the company’s review board if they feel a rejection is unjust and not run to the press to trash them publicly.

The guidelines are pretty simple and make sense. Here are some major points that Apple wants you to know and be careful about if you’re a third party app developer:

  • 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 behaviour 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.
  • This is a living document, and new apps presenting new questions may result in new rules at any time. Perhaps your app will trigger this.

The document goes on to explain in detail the rules set for rejecting apps with certain content. Some of them are as follows:

  • Apps that include undocumented or hidden features inconsistent with the description of the app will be rejected.
  • Apps that duplicate apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them.
  • Apps that browse the web must use the iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.
  • Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.
  • Apps which appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product or advertising theme will be rejected.
  • Apps that misspell Apple product names in their app name (i.e., GPS for Iphone, iTunz) will be rejected.
  • App user interfaces that mimic any iPod interface will be rejected.
  • Apps that look similar to apps bundled on the iPhone, including the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstore, will be rejected.
  • Apps that create alternate desktop/home screen environments or simulate multi-app widget experiences will be rejected.
  • If your user interface is complex or less than very good it may be rejected.
  • In general, the more expensive your app, the more thoroughly we will review it.
  • Professional political satirists and humorists are exempt from the ban on offensive or mean-spirited commentary.
  • Apps that include games of Russian roulette will be rejected.
  • Apps containing pornographic material, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as "explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings", will be rejected.
  • Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic (ex "Chat Roulette" apps) will be rejected.
  • Apps that enable illegal file sharing will be rejected.

You can read the complete document issued by Apple here.

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