App Store Review Guidelines


'App Store Review Guidelines' Articles

Vaporizer Manufacturer PAX Calls on Apple to Rethink Vaping-Related App Ban

Apple last week removed all vaping-related apps from the App Store and updated ‌App Store‌ guidelines to prohibit apps that facilitate or encourage the use of vape-related devices. Apple never allowed apps that sold vape cartridges, but it did allow apps that offered up vape-related news or provided controls for vape devices. Some companies, such as PAX, relied heavily on Apple's ‌App Store‌ to add technology to vaporizer devices and those companies are unhappy with Apple's recent ban. PAX today penned a missive calling on Apple to rethink its decision as PAX creates several vaporizers that are designed to be controlled and customized through iOS and Android apps. The now-banned PAX Mobile app, for example, let PAX vaporizer users do things like adjust the vaporizer temperature, set parental controls, verify the authenticity of cartridges, and change the colors of the lights on the devices. PAX says that while it respects Apple's leadership, it is concerned with Apple's ban because it prevents consumers in legal stages from "having access to important information and the ability to better control their cannabis experience." Apple decided to ban all vaping-related apps after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,172 lung injury cases linked to e-cigarette or vape products containing vitamin E acetate, found primarily in products "informally" sourced from friends, family, or in-person or online dealers. In a statement, Apple said that it agrees with the CDC's opinion that the spread of vaping devices is a "public health crisis and youth

Apple Removing Vaping-Related Apps From App Store Today Amid Public Health Concerns

Apple is removing all vaping-related apps from the App Store today, according to Axios, shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,172 lung injury cases linked to e-cigarette or vape products. In a statement issued to Axios, Apple said it agrees with expert opinions that vaping is a "public health crisis" and a "youth epidemic":We take great care to curate the App Store as a trusted place for customers, particularly youth, to download apps. We're constantly evaluating apps, and consulting the latest evidence, to determine risks to users' health and well-being. Recently, experts ranging from the CDC to the American Heart Association have attributed a variety of lung injuries and fatalities to e-cigarette and vaping products, going so far as to call the spread of these devices a public health crisis and a youth epidemic. We agree, and we've updated our App Store Review Guidelines to reflect that apps encouraging or facilitating the use of these products are not permitted. As of today, these apps are no longer available to download.Apple had already took a step in this direction in June, when it updated its App Store Review Guidelines to indicate that apps encouraging consumption of vape products are not permitted on the App Store. Vaping-related apps already installed on iOS devices will continue to function. Note: This discussion thread is located in our Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Apple Softens App Store Guidelines Related to Third-Party Ads in Kids Apps and 'Sign in With Apple'

Apple today updated its App Store Review Guidelines with changes to third-party advertising and analytics in kids apps, as well as additional criteria for when apps are required to use Sign in with Apple. Kids apps The guidelines now state that, in limited cases, third-party analytics may be permitted in kids apps provided that the services do not collect or transmit any identifiable information about children, such as their name, date of birth, email address, location, or unique device identifier. Apple says third-party advertising may also be permitted in limited cases, provided that the services have publicly documented practices and policies for kids apps, including human review of ad creatives for age appropriateness. Apple had previously implied that no third-party ads or analytics would be permitted in kids apps whatsoever, but several developers of kids apps expressed concerns that this would harm their business models, leading Apple to delay the requirements and make the changes announced today. Moreover, apps in the App Store's Kids category or those that collect, transmit, or have the capability to share personal information from a minor must include a privacy policy and must comply with all applicable children's privacy statutes, such as the U.S.'s Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Newly submitted kids apps must follow these guidelines immediately, while existing apps will have until March 3, 2020 to be fully compliant, according to Apple. "As we got closer to implementation we spent more time with developers, analytics companies

Apple Reverses Course and Allows Parental Control Apps to Use MDM Technology With Stricter Privacy Requirements

As one of many updates to its App Store Review Guidelines this week, Apple has indicated that parental control app developers are again permitted to use Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology in their apps, so long as they do not sell, use, or disclose any data to third parties for any purpose. An excerpt from the newly added Guideline 5.5:You must make a clear declaration of what user data will be collected and how it will be used on an app screen prior to any user action to purchase or otherwise use the service. MDM apps must not violate local laws. Apps offering MDM services may not sell, use, or disclose to third parties any data for any purpose, and must commit to this in their privacy policy. Apps that do not comply with this guideline will be removed from the App Store and you may be removed from the Apple Developer Program.This comes a little over a month after The New York Times reported that Apple had removed or restricted many of the most popular screen time and parental control apps on the ‌App Store‌ since launching its own Screen Time feature in iOS 12 last year, raising concerns over potentially anticompetitive behavior. In response to the report, Apple said it had discovered that some parental control apps were using MDM, putting the privacy and security of children at risk. "These apps were using an enterprise technology that provided them access to kids' highly sensitive personal data," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement issued to The New York Times on Monday. "We do not think it is O.K. for any apps to help data companies track or

Apple Cracking Down on Developers Spamming the App Store With Duplicate Apps

Just one day after exposing a handful of developers spamming the App Store with duplicate VoIP apps, a clear violation of the ‌App Store‌ Review Guidelines, TechCrunch reports that Apple has removed many of the apps from the ‌App Store‌. However, the report notes that plenty of duplicate apps remain available in other categories, such as photo printing. MailPix Inc., for example, has released three different apps that all offer same-day photo printing at nearby CVS or Walgreens locations. All three apps appear to be virtually identical in functionality. By releasing duplicate apps on the ‌App Store‌, developers are able to game the search results by using different names, categories, and keywords. As the report mentions, the primary issue here is that Apple is not consistently enforcing its App Store Review Guidelines, which warn developers that "spamming the store may lead to your removal from the Developer Program." This can lead to an unfair playing field for developers who do abide by the rules. With millions of apps on the ‌App Store‌, it is likely that quite a few other duplicate apps have slipped through the cracks, but hopefully the increased awareness results in Apple cracking down more on these rule-breaking developers.

Apple Changes App Store Rules to Allow Users to Gift In-App Purchases to Friends and Family

Apple today made a tweak to its App Store Review Guidelines, allowing developers to implement a new feature that will let iOS users purchase in-app content as a gift. Right now, iOS users can purchase paid apps as gifts for other iOS users, but there's no way to purchase in-app content as a gift. As more and more apps work on a free-to-try or subscription basis with various content only available through an in-app purchase, this change to the in-app purchase rules makes sense. The new in-app purchase gifting rule is outlined in Apple's updated App Store Review Guidelines. Before the change: "Apps should not directly or indirectly enable gifting of in-app purchase content, features, or consumable items to others." After the change: "Apps may enable gifting of items that are eligible for in-app purchase to others. Such gifts may only be refunded to the original purchaser and may not be exchanged." It's not entirely clear how gifting an in-app purchase will be handled, but Apple may be planning to add new in-app purchase gifting options to its App Store interface. Apple may soon send more information about the in-app purchase gifting change to developers. Right now, to gift a paid app to a person, a user needs to open up the App Store, tap on the three dots icon next to an app's price, and choose the "Gift App..." option. This brings up an interface for sending an App Store credit for a specific app to a contact via

All New and Updated App Store Apps Required to Have a Privacy Policy Starting October

Apple has announced that, starting October 3, 2018, all new apps and app updates will require a privacy policy in order to be submitted for distribution on the App Store or through TestFlight for beta testing purposes. Apple already requires a privacy policy for apps that access personal information, including apps that offer subscriptions, accept Apple Pay, or use Apple frameworks such as HomeKit, HealthKit, or CareKit. Now, the requirement will extend to all apps, including basic ones that do not share data in any way. It does not appear that existing apps on the App Store will be affected by this move until they are updated on October 3 or later, so long-outdated apps may remain without a privacy policy if they are no longer maintained. Apple detailed the upcoming changes in the News section of its App Store Connect portal for developers on Thursday:Starting October 3, 2018, App Store Connect will require a privacy policy for all new apps and app updates in order to be submitted for distribution on the App Store or through TestFlight external testing. In addition, your app's privacy policy link or text will only be editable when you submit a new version of your app. To add or edit your privacy policy for the App Store: 1. Go to My Apps in App Store Connect, and click on your app. 2. Under App Store, click on App Information. 3. In the top right corner, add your privacy policy link for iOS apps or macOS apps, or enter text directly for tvOS apps. 4. Click Save. To add your privacy policy link to your app for external TestFlight distribution: 1.

Facebook Removing Onavo VPN From App Store After Apple Says It Violates Data Collection Policies

Facebook today removed VPN app Onavo Protect from the iOS App Store after Apple decided that it violates App Store data collection policies, reports The Wall Street Journal. Apple earlier this month told Facebook officials that the Onavo app, which serves as a virtual private network, violates June App Store rules that prevent apps from harvesting data to build advertising profiles or contact databases. Earlier this month, Apple officials informed Facebook that the app violated new rules outlined in June designed to limit data collection by app developers, the person familiar with the situation said. Apple informed Facebook that Onavo also violated a part of its developer agreement that prevents apps from using data in ways that go beyond what is directly relevant to the app or to provide advertising, the person added.Facebook and Apple met last week to discuss the Onavo app, and last Thursday, Apple suggested that Facebook voluntarily remove the Onavo app, which Facebook agreed to do. Onavo, a free VPN, promised to "keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web," but the app's real purpose was tracking user activity across multiple different apps to learn insights about how Facebook customers use third-party apps. Whenever a person using Onavo opens up an app or website, traffic is redirected to Facebook's servers, which log the action in a database to allow Facebook to draw conclusions about app usage from aggregated data. As of earlier this year, Onavo for iOS and Android had been installed on more than 33 million devices,

Apple Revamps App Store Guidelines, Sets New Rules for Remote Mirroring Apps Like Steam Link

Alongside the debut of iOS 12, which is available to developers for beta testing as of today, Apple has introduced new App Store Guidelines. There are several tweaks that have been made to the App Store Guidelines, and one notable change appears to have been introduced specifically because of the Steam Link debacle that saw Apple approve and then renege on the Steam Link app for iOS. A new guideline, 4.2.7, says that all Remote Application Mirroring apps, such as Steam Link, must comply with a specific set of rules. Such apps are not allowed to offer a user interface that resembles an App Store view or a store-like interface, nor can they include the ability to purchase software not already owned by the user. Apple is allowing transactions to be made by remote mirroring apps, as long as purchases are made on the host device rather than the iOS device.The UI appearing on the client does not resemble an iOS or App Store view, does not provide a store-like interface, or include the ability to browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user. For the sake of clarity, transactions taking place within mirrored software do not need to use in-app purchase, provided the transactions are processed on the host device.With the clarification of Apple's stance on games streamed from a PC or Mac, the Steam Link app may be able to launch on iOS devices after all. Valve has not yet commented on the policy changes, and it's not clear what Valve will need to tweak to comply with the new rules. There are multiple other changes to the App Store

Developers Report Recent Enforcement of Stricter Rules for Emoji Use in iOS Apps

Over the past few weeks, iOS app developers have been sharing stories on Twitter about their apps getting rejected by Apple's App Review team because emojis were used in "non-keyboard based situations." So if an app displayed an emoji in its user interface, where the user did not type it in with a keyboard, Apple said it was not complying with its trademark and Apple Emoji imagery guidelines. As accounts of similar situations begin to build, Emojipedia this week reported on the topic, and attempted to make sense of the new rules, with a handful of examples of apps that have been using emoji within their UI and are now being rejected by Apple. In the iOS app "Reaction Match," a Game Center error screen saw the use of the loudly crying face and alien emojis become problems for developer Eddie Lee. He eventually removed all instances of the emojis, and the App Store reviewers then accepted the app. Image of Reaction Match's rejected (left) and approved (right) app screens via Emojipedia Github client app GitHawk faced similar issues, with Apple rejecting the app for its use of emojis as "media" in various parts of the app. As developer and software engineer Ryan Nystrom explained, these instances of "non text input" emoji use got flagged, but once he removed the emojis and used them only as "content" and as text input examples, the app was approved. Approved it, shouldn't use emoji as "media" (the Inbox Zero screen), but as "content" its ok pic.twitter.com/JWHwv3ZgNa— Ryan Nystrom (@_ryannystrom) January 23, 2018 Like other newly discovered App Store guidelines,

Apple Updates App Store Guidelines to Relax Restrictive Rules on Template Apps

Apple in June tweaked its App Store Review guidelines to add a new rule banning apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service, a move that ended up impacting small businesses without the resources to independently develop an app. Many niche template-created apps for small restaurants, retailers, and other businesses were not allowed under the new rule, which also affected the companies that build those sorts of apps. Following media attention and feedback from small business owners, Apple today amended the rule to make it less restrictive, reports TechCrunch. An example of a restaurant app created using a ChowNow template The original rule, in section 4.2.6 of the App Store guidelines, read "Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected." The new wording of the rule, located below, is more expansive and clarifies exactly what's allowed and what's not.Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app's content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences. Another acceptable option for template providers is to create a single binary to host all client content in an aggregated or "picker" model, for example as a restaurant finder app with separate customized entries or pages for each client restaurant, or as an event app with separate entries for each client event.Unde

Apple Removed Some Risky Trading Apps From App Store in Accordance With New Guidelines

Apple and Google have recently removed over 300 binary options trading apps from the App Store and Google Play store respectively, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. A spokesperson for Apple said it removed the apps globally in accordance with its recently updated App Store Review Guidelines:Apps that facilitate binary options trading are not permitted on the App Store. Consider a web app instead.MacRumors easily discovered at least five apps that still appear to facilitate binary options trading on the App Store. Apple's guidelines clearly state that binary options trading apps are no longer permitted on the App Store, so it's unclear why some remain available to download, and whether they'll soon be removed. The trading apps encouraged users to make bets on whether instruments like shares or currencies will rise or fall, according to Bloomberg. However, many of them were unlicensed and failed to outline the risks of trading binary options, and some merely collected personal information, according to ASIC. Many of the trading apps subject to surveillance by ASIC contained statements which appeared to be misleading about the profitability of trading and the amount of profit that could be made, the regulator said. One of the apps, for example, advertised that users could profit in as quickly as 60 seconds. "In an age where technology can hide who is offering and controlling a product, buyer beware has never been so important," said ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour. "If something appears too good to be true, it probably

Apple Officially Allows Users to Tip Content Creators With In-App Purchases

Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines this week to indicate that developers may now sell virtual currencies in the form of in-app purchases to enable customers to "tip" content creators within apps. Like all other in-app purchases, Apple will now receive a 30 percent cut from the virtual currencies used for tipping. Tipping within apps is popular in China, where live-streaming apps like Yinke and Yizhibo have long allowed viewers to tip or give virtual gifts to the stars they watch as a token of gratitude, according to TechCrunch. Last month, however, Apple reportedly told WeChat and several other Chinese social networking apps to disable their "tip" functions to comply with App Store rules, as many of the virtual currencies sidestepped Apple's 30 percent cut on purchases. Now that Apple has formally outlined its stance on the matter, developers who previously feared repercussions from the company may be more inclined to begin offering virtual currencies for users to tip content creators with. Beyond Apple's 30 percent cut, it's up to developers to determine how much of the tips are relayed to the content creators

Apple's App Review Process Now Takes as Little as Two Days

Apple's app review process has become significantly faster during the first five months of 2016, according to AppReviewTimes.com, a website that tracks average App Store review times for both the iOS and Mac App Store using data crowdsourced from developers on both platforms. App Store approval times have dropped to an average of two days, compared to between eight and ten days in May 2015, based on 328 reviews submitted in the last 14 days. The shorter process has been well received by the developer community, which had grown accustomed to weeklong waits. I’m uncharacteristicly excited about faster review times. Going to be devastated when someone inevitably ruins it.https://t.co/td5QkeUaBb— Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) May 5, 2016 Oh, and yet another fast App Store review time of 2 days. Definitely feels like a (welcome) trend of faster review times #iosreviewtimes— John Pollard (@yeltzland) May 4, 2016 Wow, the @AppStore approved my update in 2 days. So much faster. I like the new you App Store.— Aaron Lake (@OrbitalNine) April 4, 2016 "A lot of the way that we build software for iOS is controlled around the fact that you have a one-week release cycle," Button Inc. founder Chris Maddern, whose team has done work for Uber Technologies Inc. and Foursquare Labs Inc., told Bloomberg. "It can now happen within hours of submitting them, which is really awesome because it speeds up the development cycle." Last December, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller took over App Store leadership responsibilities from iTunes and services chief Eddy Cue. Schiller now leads nearly all

App Store Review Guidelines Updated to Forbid Time-Telling Apple Watch Apps

Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to reflect an Apple Watch rule that it's been enforcing over the past several weeks, which prevents developers from creating Apple Watch apps that display the time. According to the newly added 10.7 rule under "User interface," Watch Apps that have a "primary function" of telling the time will be rejected. Though this rule, noticed first by 9to5Mac, was not previously listed in the App Store Review Guidelines or in the Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines until today, Apple has previously been using this guideline to turn down Apple Watch apps, and its enforcement of this rule appears particularly strict based on some of the apps that have been rejected. MacRumors recently spoke to one developer who had his app rejected from the App Store due to the time telling rule, but offering the time was not the main function of the app. Instead, it was an app that used a clock-like face to display sunset/sunrise times along with the position of the sun and the moon. The developer was told by Apple that Apple Watch apps containing a clock face, the likeness of a clock, or time-telling functionality would be rejected, and the Apple employee he spoke with mentioned that quite a few developers had been rejected due to the policy. A video walkthrough of the available watch faces on the Apple Watch Given Apple's aim to position the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory, it's no surprise that the company is maintaining strict control over what's arguably the most important core function of the Apple Watch -- telling the time. In