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June 08, 2017

New rules following WWDC 2017

After a densely packed WWDC keynote with many new features for developers and user, Apple also published a new version of the App Store Review Guidelines. There are many changes ranging from minor rephrasings to totally new rules.

A few notable changes and additions that caught my mind:

  • New note on how to respond to App Store customer reviews.
  • Note saying developers must now use the provided API to prompt users for reviews rather than link to the App Store page from a custom prompt.
  • App names can now only be 30 characters long. Previosly this limit was 50 characters. There is a new subtitle feature in iTunes Connect that we should use instead of long descriptive titles.
  • Apps that provide a programming interface may now (in some cases) download and run code from the Internet.
  • Clarifications regarding IAP and other purchasing methods for “reader” apps.
  • Binary options trading apps are no longer allowed.
  • Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.
  • Your app description should let people know what types of access (e.g. location, contacts, calendar, etc.) are requested by your app, and what aspects of the app won’t work if the user doesn’t grant permission.

All the changes are listed below. Additions have green highlight and deletions have red highlight and strikeout.

  • Introduction
    • The App Store is a great way to reach hundreds of millions of people around the world. If you build an app that you just want to show to family and friends, the App Store isn’t the best way to do that. Consider Ad Hoc distribution or the Enterprise Program. If you’re just getting started, learn more about the Apple Developer Program.
    • 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 you attempt to cheat the system (for example, by trying to trick the review process, steal user data, copy another developer's work, or manipulate ratings) your apps will be removed from the store and you will be expelled from the Developer Program.
  • Before you submit

    To help your app approval go as smoothly as possible, review the common missteps listed below that can slow down the review process or trigger a rejection. This doesn’t replace the guidelines or guarantee approval, but making sure you can check every item on the list is a good start. If your app no longer functions as intended or you’re no longer actively supporting it, it will be removed from the App Store. Learn More about App Store Improvements.

  • 1.1 Objectionable Content
    • 1.1.7 App Store Reviews:
      • App Store customer reviews can be an integral part of the app experience, so you should treat customers with respect when responding to their comments. Keep your responses targeted to the user’s comments and do not include personal information, spam, or marketing in your response.
      • Use the provided API to prompt users to review your app; this functionality allows customers to provide an App Store rating and review without the inconvenience of leaving your app, and we will disallow custom review prompts.
  • 1.4 Physical Harm

    If your app behaves in a way that risks physical harm, we may reject it. For example:

    • 1.4.1 Medical apps that could provide inaccurate data or information, or that could be used for diagnosing or treating patients may be reviewed with greater scrutiny. If your medical app has received regulatory clearance, please submit a link to that documentation with your app.
      • Apps must clearly disclose data and methodology to support accuracy claims relating to health measurements, and if the level of accuracy or methodology cannot be validated, we will reject your app. For example, apps that claim to take x-rays, measure blood pressure, body temperature, blood glucose levels, or blood oxygen levels using only the sensors on the device are not permitted.
      • Apps should remind users to check with a doctor in addition to using the app and before making medical decisions.
      If your medical app has received regulatory clearance, please submit a link to that documentation with your app.
    • 1.4.3 Apps should notthat encourage consumption of tobacco products, illegal or excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol; or encourage minors to consume drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on the App Store. Apps that encourage minors to consume any of these substances will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of marijuana, or tobacco; and facilitating the sale of marijuana, or controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies) isn’t allowed.
    • 1.4.5 Apps should not urge customers to use their devices in a way that contradicts safety documentation for Apple hardware, risking damage to the device or physical harm to people. For example, apps should not encourage placing the device under a mattress or pillow while charging or perform excessive write cycles to the solid state drive. Review device documentation.
  • 2.3 Accurate Metadata
    • 2.3.2 If your app includes in-app purchases, make sure your app description, screenshots, and previews clearly indicate whether any featured items, levels, subscriptions, etc. require additional purchases. If you decide to promote in-app purchases on the App Store, ensure that the IAP Display Name and Description are written for a public audience and that your app properly handles the Purchase Intent API so that customers can seamlessly complete the purchase when your app launches.
    • 2.3.3 Screenshots should show the app in use, and not merely the title art, log-in page, or splash screen. They may also include text overlays and show extended functionality on device, such as Touch Bar.
    • 2.3.7 Choose a unique app name, assign keywords that accurately describe your app, and don’t try to pack any of your metadata with trademarked terms, popular app names, or other irrelevant phrases just to game the system. App names must be limited to 5030 characters and should not include prices, terms, or descriptions that are not the name of the app. App subtitles are a great way to provide additional context for your app; they must follow our standard metadata rules and should not include inappropriate content, reference other apps, or make unverifiable product claims. Apple may modify inappropriate keywords at any time.
    • 2.3.8 Metadata should be appropriate for all audiences, so make sure your app and in-app purchase icons, screenshots, and previews adhere to a 4+ age rating even if your app is rated higher. For example, if your app is a game that includes violence, select images that don’t depict a gruesome death or a gun pointed at a specific character. Use of terms like “For Kids” and “For Children” in app names is reserved for the Kids Category. Remember to ensure your metadata, including app name and icons (small, large, Apple Watch app, etc.), are similar to avoid creating confusion.
  • 2.5 Software Requirements
    • 2.5.1 Apps may only use public APIs and must run on the currently shipping OS. Learn more about public APIs. Keep your apps up-to-date and make sure you phase out any deprecated features, frameworks or technologies that will no longer be supported in future versions of an OS.
    • 2.5.2 Apps should be self-contained in their bundles, and may not read or write data outside the designated container area, nor may they download, install, or execute code, including other iOS, watchOS, macOS, or tvOS apps. Apps designed to teach, develop, or test executable code may, in limited circumstances, download code provided that such code is not used for other purposes. Such apps must make the source code provided by the Application completely viewable and editable by the user.
    • 2.5.9 Apps that alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors will be rejected. For example, apps should not block links out to other apps or other features that users would expect to work a certain way. Learn more about proper handling of links.
    • 2.5.11 SiriKit
      • (ii) Ensure that the vocabulary and phrases in your plist pertains to your app and the SiriKit functionality of the intents the app has registered for. Aliases must relate directly to your app or company name and should not be generic terms or include third party app names or services.
    • 2.5.12 Apps using CallKit or including an SMS Fraud Extension should only block phone numbers that are confirmed spam. Apps that include call-, SMS-, and MMS- blocking functionality or spam identification must clearly identify these features in their marketing text and explain the criteria for their blocked and spam lists. You may not use the data accessed via these tools for any purpose not directly related to operating or improving your app or extension (e.g. you may not use, share, or sell it for tracking purposes, creating user profiles, etc.)
  • 3.1 Payments
    • 3.1.1 In-App Purchase:
      • If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app, (by way of example: subscriptions, in-game currencies, game levels, access to premium content, or unlocking a full version), you must use in-app purchase. Apps may use in-app purchase currencies to enable customers to “tip” digital content providers in the app. Apps may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than IAP.
      • Any credits or in-game currencies purchased via IAP must be consumed within the app and may not expire, and you should make sure you have a restore mechanism for any restorable in-app purchases.
    • 3.1.2(a) Permissible uses: If you offer an auto-renewing subscription, you must provide ongoing value to the customer, and the subscription period must last at least seven days and be available across all of the user’s devices.
    • 3.1.3 Content-based “Reader” Apps: Apps may allow a user to access previously purchased content or content subscriptions (specifically: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and approved services such as educational apps that manage student grades and schedules), as well as consumable items in multi-platform games, provided the app doesthat you agree not directto directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing mechanismmethod other than IAP, and your general communications about other purchasing methods are not designed to discourage use of IAP.
  • 3.2 Other Business Model Issues
    • 3.2.1 Acceptable
      • (vi) Approved nonprofits may fundraise directly within their own apps usingor third-party apps, provided those fundraising campaigns adhere to all App Review Guidelines and offer Apple Pay, provided those fundraising campaigns adhere to all App Review Guidelines support. These apps must disclose how the funds will be used, abide by all required local and federal laws, and makeensure appropriate tax receipts are available to donors. Additional information shall be provided to App Review upon request. Nonprofit platforms that connect donors to other nonprofits must ensure that every nonprofit listed in the app has also gone through the nonprofit approval process. Learn more about becoming an approved nonprofit.
    • 3.2.2 Unacceptable
      • (iv) Unless you are an approved nonprofit or otherwise permitted under Section 3.2.1 (vi) above, collecting funds within the app for charities and fundraisers. Apps that seek to raise money for such causes must be free on the App Store and may only collect funds outside of the app, such as via Safari or SMS.
      • (vi) Apps should allow a user to get what they’ve paid for without performing additional tasks, such as posting on social media, uploading contacts, checking in to the app a certain number of times, etc. Apps should not forcerequire users to rate the app, review the app, watch videos, download other apps, tap on advertisements, or take other similar actions in order to access functionality, content, or use of the app, or receive monetary or other compensation.
      • (vii) Artificially manipulating a user’s visibility, status, or rank on other services unless permitted by that service’s Terms and Conditions
      • (viii) Apps that facilitate binary options trading are not permitted on the App Store. Consider a web app instead.
  • 4.2 Minimum Functionality
    • 4.2.2 Other than catalogs, which have a dedicated category, apps shouldn’t primarily be marketing materials, advertisements, web clippings, content aggregators, or a collection of links.
    • 4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.
  • 4.4 Extensions
    • 4.4.1 Keyboard extensions have some additional rules.

      They must:

      • Follow Sticker guidelines if the keyboard includes images or emojis
      • Remain functional without full network access and without requiring full access;
  • 4.5 Apple Sites and Services
    • 4.5.2 The Apple Music API lets
      • (i) The MusicKit APIs let customers access their subscription while using your app. They are intended for simple music playback by Apple Music subscribers. Users must initiate the playback of an Apple Music stream and be able to navigate playback using standard media controls such as “play,” “pause,” and “skip;. apps may not automate these actions. Moreover, your app may not require payment or indirectly monetize access to the Apple Music service (e.g. in-app purchase, advertising, requesting user info, etc.). Do not download, upload, or enable sharing of music files sourced from the MusicKit APIs, except as explicitly permitted in MusicKit documentation.
      • (ii) Using the MusicKit APIs is not a replacement for securing the licenses you might need for a deeper or more complex music integration. For example, if you want your app to play a specific song at a particular moment, or to create audio or video files that can be shared to social media, you’ll need to contact rights-holders directly to get their permission (e.g. synchronization or adaptation rights) and assets. Cover art and other metadata may only be used in connection with music playback or playlists (including App Store screenshots displaying your app’s functionality), and should not be used in any marketing or advertising without getting specific authorization from rights-holders. Make sure to follow the Apple Music Identity Guidelines when integrating Apple Music services in your app.
      • (iii) Apps that access Apple Music user data, such as playlists and favorites, must clearly disclose this access in the purpose string. Any data collected may not be shared with third parties for any purpose other than supporting or improving the app experience. This data may not be used to identify users or devices, or to target advertising.
  • 4.6 Alternate App Icons

    Apps may display customized icons, for example, to reflect a sports team preference, provided that each change is initiated by the user and the app includes settings to revert to the original icon. All icon variants must relate to the content of the app and changes should be consistent across all system assets, so that the icons displayed in Settings, Notifications, etc. match the new springboard icon. This feature may not be used for dynamic, automatic, or serial changes, such as to reflect up-to-date weather information, calendar notifications, etc.

  • 4.7 Third-Party Software

    Apps may contain or run code provided by third party developers (e.g. HTML5-based games), as long as the code is not offered in a store or store-like interface, and provided that the software (1) is free or purchased using in-app purchase; (2) only uses capabilities available in a standard WebKit view; your app must use WebKit and JavaScript Core to run third party software and should not attempt to extend or expose native platform APIs to third party software; (3) is offered by developers that have joined the Apple Developer Program and signed the Apple Developer Program License Agreement; and (4) adheres to the terms of these App Review Guidelines (e.g. does not include objectionable content; uses IAP to unlock features and functionality). You must provide an index of third party software and metadata available in your app upon request.

  • 5.1 Privacy
    • 5.1.1 Data Collection and Storage
      • (i) Apps that collect user or usage data must have a privacy policy and secure user consent for the collection. This includes—but isn’t limited to—apps that implement HealthKit or other health/medical technologies, HomeKit, Keyboard extensions, Apple Pay, Stickers and iMessage extensions, include a login, or access user data from the device. Your app description should let people know what types of access (e.g. location, contacts, calendar, etc.) are requested by your app, and what aspects of the app won’t work if the user doesn’t grant permission.
    • 5.1.2 Data Use and Sharing
      • (i) Apps cannotYou may not attempt, facilitate, or encourage others to identify users or reconstruct user profiles based on data that you say has been collected in an “anonymized,” “aggregated,” or otherwise non-identifiable way. You may not use or transmit someone’s personal data without first obtaining their permission and providing access to information about how and where the data will be used.
  • 5.2 Intellectual Property
    • 5.2.1 Generally: Don’t use protected third party material such as trademarks, copyrighted works, or patented ideas in your app without permission, and don’t include misleading, false, or copycat representations, names, or metadata in your app bundle or developer name. Apps should be submitted by the person or legal entity that owns or has licensed the intellectual property and other relevant rights and is responsible for offering any services provided by the app.
    • 5.2.5 Apple Products: Don’t create an app that appears confusingly similar to an existing Apple product, interface (e.g. Finder), app (such as the App Store, iTunes Store, or Messages) or advertising theme, and don’t misspell Apple product names (i.e., GPS for Iphone, iTunz). Apps and extensions, including third party keyboards and Sticker packs, may not include Apple emoji. iTunes music previews may not be used for their entertainment value (e.g. as the background music to a photo collage or the soundtrack to a game) or in any other unauthorized manner. If your app displays Activity rings, do not modify the look and feel of the rings themselves or the data they represent. The Human Interface Guidelines have more information on how to use Activity rings.

November 14, 2016

Added nonprofit payment exception

With this minor update to the App Store Review Guidelines Apple added a subsection saying that approved nonprofits may fundraise directly within their app using Apple Pay. There is also a link to a new page about how to become an approved nonprofit.

The change followed an official press release from Apple that details the new program allowing Apple Pay donations to nonprofits.

This change also included Apple renaming Mac OS X to its new name macOS in several places.

  • 3.2 Other Business Model Issues
    • 3.2.1 Acceptable
      • (vi) Approved nonprofits may fundraise directly within their own apps using Apple Pay, provided those fundraising campaigns adhere to all App Review Guidelines. These apps must disclose how the funds will be used, abide by all required local and federal laws, and make appropriate tax receipts available to donors. Nonprofit platforms that connect donors to other nonprofits must ensure that every nonprofit listed in the app has also gone through the nonprofit approval process. Learn more about becoming an approved nonprofit.
    • 3.2.2 Unacceptable
      • (iv) CollectingUnless you are an approved nonprofit, collecting funds within the app for charities and fundraisers. Apps that seek to raise money for such causes must be free on the App Store and may only collect funds outside of the app, such as via Safari or SMS.
  • September 01, 2016

    Updated subscription rules, SiriKit, Stickers and more

    This update to the App Store Review Guidelines is mostly about the new iOS features SiriKit and Stickers, but also includes the previously promised new rules for subscription based apps. The full diff is listed below, but a few interesting new bits include:

    App names must be limited to 50 characters and should not include terms or descriptions that are not the name of the app.

    This was also mentioned in the “App Store Improvements” email sent to developers on September 1st and will be enforced for new apps and app updates.

    Section 3.2.2 has a new point that I think is worth to notice:

    Apps should allow a user to get what they’ve paid for without performing additional tasks, such as posting on social media, uploading contacts, checking in to the app a certain number of times, etc. Apps should not force users to rate the app, review the app, download other apps, or take other similar actions in order to access functionality, content, or use of the app.

    Seems to me that many apps and games currently encourage users to rate the app by offering rewards like free coins or similar for doing so. It will be interesting to see if Apple enforce this rule in a way that also prohibits this behavior where users are not forced, but gets rewarded.

    And remember that even after your app has been approved, you should update your app to ensure it remains functional and engaging to new and existing customers. Apps that stop working or offer a degraded experience may be removed from the App Store at any time.

    Yes Apple will finally start to remove abandoned apps from the App Store. This should be a win for everyone.

  • 2.3 Accurate Metadata
    • 2.3.4 Previews are a great way for customers to see what your app looks like and what it does. To ensure people understand what they’ll be getting with your app, previews may only use video screen captures of the app itself. Stickers and iMessage extensions may show the user experience in the Messages app. You can add narration and video or textual overlays to help explain anything that isn’t clear from the video alone.
    • 2.3.7 Choose a unique app name, assign keywords that accurately describe your app, and don’t try to pack any of your metadata with trademarked terms, popular app names, or other irrelevant phrases just to game the system. App names must be limited to 50 characters and should not include terms or descriptions that are not the name of the app. Apple may modify inappropriate keywords at any time.
  • 2.5 Software Requirements
    • 2.5.11 SiriKit
      • (i) Apps integrating SiriKit should only sign up for intents they can handle without the support of an additional app and that users would expect from the stated functionality. For example, if your app is a meal planning app, you should not incorporate an intent to start a workout, even if the app shares integration with a fitness app.
      • (ii) Ensure that the vocabulary and phrases in your plist pertains to your app and the SiriKit functionality of the intents the app has registered for.
      • (iii) Resolve the Siri request in the most direct way possible and do not insert ads or other marketing between the request and its fulfillment. Only present interstitial UI when required to complete the task (e.g. asking the user to specify a particular type of workout).
  • 3.1 Payments
    • 3.1.2 Subscriptions: Subscriptions: AutoApps may offer auto-renewing subscriptions should only be offered using in-app purchase andsubscriptions, regardless of category on the App Store. When incorporating auto-renewable subscriptions into your app, be sure to follow the guidelines below.
    • Note: We will update these guidelines in the coming weeks for the subscription changes launching this fall
    • 3.1.2(a) Permissible uses: If you offer an auto-renewing subscription, you must provide ongoing value to the customer. While the following list is not exhaustive, examples of appropriate subscriptions include: new game levels; episodic content; multi-player support; apps that offer consistent, substantive updates; access to large collections of, or continually updated, media content; software as a service (“SAAS”); and cloud support. In addition:
      • Subscriptions may only be used for periodicalsbe offered alongside a la carte offerings (e.g. newspapersyou may offer a subscription to an entire library of films as well the purchase or rental of a single movie).
      • You may offer a single subscription that is shared across your own apps, magazines)but these subscriptions may not extend to third party apps or services. Subscriptions must work on all of the user’s devices where the app is available. Learn more about sharing a subscription across your apps.
      • Apps must not force users to rate the app, businessreview the app, download other apps, or other similar actions in order to access functionality, content, or use of the app.
      • As with all apps, those offering subscriptions should allow a user to get what they’ve paid for without performing additional tasks, such as posting on social media, uploading contacts, checking in to the app a certain number of times, etc.
      • Subscriptions may not include consumable credits, gems, in-game currencies, etc., even when combined with other offerings, but you may offer subscriptions that include access to discounted consumable goods (e.g. enterprise, productivity, professional creative, cloud storage), media apps (e.g. video, audio, voice, photo sharing), and other approved services (e.g. dating, dieting, weathera platinum membership that exposes gem-packs for a reduced price). These subscriptions must last a minimum of 7 days and be accessible from all of the user’s devices where the
      • If you are changing your existing app is availableto a subscription-based business model, you should not take away the primary functionality existing users have already paid for. You may offer subscriptions that are shared acrossFor example, let customers who have already purchased a “full game unlock” continue to access the full game after you introduce a subscription model for new customers.
    • 3.1.2(b) Upgrades and Downgrades: Users should have a seamless upgrade/downgrade experience and should not be able to inadvertently subscribe to multiple variations of the same thing. Review best practices on managing your subscription upgrade and downgrade options.
    • 3.1.2(c) Subscription Information: Before asking a customer to subscribe, you should clearly describe what the user will get for the price. How many issues per month? How much cloud storage? What kind of access to your service? Also ensure you clearly communicate the requirements described in Schedule 2 of your agreement in Agreements, Tax, and Banking.
  • 3.2 Other Business Model Issues
    • 3.2.2 Unacceptable
      • (vi) Apps should allow a user to get what they’ve paid for without performing additional tasks, such as posting on social media, uploading contacts, checking in to the app a certain number of times, etc. Apps should not force users to rate the app, review the app, download other apps, or take other similar actions in order to access functionality, content, or use of the app.

    4. Design

    Apple customers place a high value on products that are simple, refined, innovative, and easy to use, and that’s what we want to see on the App Store. Coming up with a great design is up to you, but the following are minimum standards for approval to the App Store. And remember that even after your app has been approved, you should update your app to ensure it remains functional and engaging to new and existing customers. Apps that stop working or offer a degraded experience may be removed from the App Store at any time.

  • 4.4 Extensions
    • 4.4.1 Keyboard extensions have some additional rules.

      They must:

      • Provide keyboard input functionality (e.g. typed characters);
      • Provide a method for progressing to the next keyboard;
      • Remain functional without full network access;
      • Provide Number and Decimal keyboard types as described in the App Extension Programming Guide;
      • Have a primary category of Utilities when the keyboard is the main point of the app; and
      • Collect user activity only to enhance the functionality of the user’s keyboard extension on the iOS device.

      They must not:

      • Include marketing, advertising, or in-app purchases;
      • Launch other apps besides Settings; or
      • Repurpose keyboard buttons for other behaviors (e.g. holding down the “return” key to launch the camera.
    • 4.4.2 Safari extensions must run on the current version of Safari on OS X. They may not interfere with System or Safari UI elements and must never include malicious or misleading content or code. Violating this rule will lead to removal from the Developer Program. Safari extensions should not claim access to more websites than strictly necessary to function.
    • 4.4.3 Stickers

      Stickers are a great way to make Messages more dynamic and fun, letting people express themselves in clever, funny, meaningful ways. Whether your app contains a sticker extension or you’re creating free-standing sticker packs, its content shouldn’t offend users, create a negative experience, or violate the law.

      • (i) In general, if it wouldn’t be suitable for the App Store, it doesn’t belong in a sticker.
      • (ii) Consider regional sensitivities, and do not make your sticker pack available in a country where it could be poorly received or violate local law.
      • (iii) If we don’t understand what your stickers mean, include a clear explanation in your review notes to avoid any delays in the review process.
      • (iv) Ensure your stickers have relevance beyond your friends and family; they should not be specific to personal events, groups, or relationships.
      • (v) You must have all the necessary copyright, trademark, publicity rights, and permissions for the content in your stickers, and shouldn’t submit anything unless you’re authorized to do so. Keep in mind that you must be able to provide verifiable documentation upon request. Apps with sticker content you don’t have rights to use will be removed from the App Store and repeat offenders will be removed from the Developer Program. If you believe your content has been infringed by another provider, submit a claim here.
  • 5.1 Privacy
    • 5.1.1 Data Collection and Storage
      • (i) Apps that collect user or usage data must have a privacy policy and secure user consent for the collection. This includes—but isn’t limited to—apps that implement HealthKit or other health/medical technologies, HomeKit, Keyboard extensions, Apple Pay, Stickers and iMessage extensions, include a login, or access user data from the device (e.g. location, contacts, calendar, etc.).
      • (ii) If your app doesn’t include significant account-based features, let people use it without a log-in. Apps may not require users to enter personal information to function, except when directly relevant to the core functionality of the app or required by law. If your core app functionality is not related to a specific social network (e.g. Facebook, WeChat, Weibo, Twitter, etc.), you must provide access without a login or via another mechanism. Pulling basic profile information, sharing to the social network, or inviting friends to use the app are not considered core app functionality.
      • (iii) Developers that use their apps to surreptitiously discover passwords or other private data will be removed from the Developer Program.
      • (iv)SafariViewContoller must be used to visibly present information to users; the controller may not be hidden or obscured by other views or layers. Additionally, an app may not use SafariViewController to track users without their knowledge and consent.
  • June 13, 2016

    Totally rewritten after WWDC keynote

    What a keynote! Apple announced significant updates for their 4 big platforms: iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. And right after the keynote ended the App Store Review Guidelines were also updated. But not just updated… Totally rewritten! The previous 30 sections have been reduce to only 5 sections but the word count has gone up from around 5000 words to over 6000 words.

    This post will not include a diff showing what changed since the last update in April since basically everything changed.

    From the introduction:

    The guiding principle of the App Store is simple - we want to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful. We have updated the App Review Guidelines with that principle in mind. The guidelines themselves haven’t changed, but they are better organized and provide more context. On the following pages you will find guidelines arranged into five clear sections: Safety, Performance, Business, Design, and Legal.

    Last week when Apple told journalists that App Store Subscription Pricing would no longer be limited to apps with media content and services there was much uncertainty to what that really meant. The new guidelines actually elaborates on that:

    Auto-renewing subscriptions should only be offered using in-app purchase and may only be used for periodicals (e.g. newspapers, magazines), business apps (e.g. enterprise, productivity, professional creative, cloud storage), media apps (e.g. video, audio, voice, photo sharing), and other approved services (e.g. dating, dieting, weather)

    So I guess that means Apple have a whitelist of what kinds of apps will be allowed to use Subscription Pricing.

    Basically you should read the new guidelines from start to end. If you stumble upon new rules that were not mentioned before, then please let us know so we can update this post.

    April 19, 2016

    New Apple Music API section, CareKit and other updates

    Today Apple once again updated the App Store Review Guidelines. It’s been 6 months since the last update, and the recent iOS 9.3 release added several new developer APIs; so this update was not unexpected.

    Most significant is perhaps the new section 10.8 that states apps using background location services must provide a reason for doing so. What Apple considers a fair reason is not really clear although the HIG is mentioned.

    Another significant addition is the new section 30 about the Apple Music API that was introduced in iOS 9.3. As described in the iOS 9.3 release note the new API allows 3rd party apps to add music to a user’s Apple Music library and play it.

    The update did also include some minor additions mentioning new Apple products such as CareKit and Apple Music in various sections. Additions are highlighted in green below.

    4. Location

    • 4.5

      Apps using background location services must provide a reason that clarifies the purpose of the use, using mechanisms described in the Human Interface Guidelines

    8. Content and Intellectual Property Rights

    • 8.6

      Apps that include the ability to save or download music or video content from third party sources (e.g. Apple Music, YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo, etc) without explicit authorization from those sources will be rejected

    10. User interface

    • 10.8

      Apps displaying Activity rings may not modify the rings or the data they represent

    11. Purchasing and currencies

    • 11.8

      Apps that use IAP to purchase access to built-in capabilities provided by iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, such as the camera or the gyroscope, or Apple-branded peripherals, such as Apple Pencil or Apple Keyboard, or Apple services, such as Apple Music access or iCloud storage, will be rejected

    25. Extensions

    • 25.7

      Apps offering Keyboard extensions must provide keyboard functionality (e.g. typed characters), have a primary category of Utilities and a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    27. HealthKit, CareKit, and Human Subject Research

    • 27.1

      Apps using the HealthKit frameworkor CareKit frameworks or conducting human subject research for health purposes, such as through the use of ResearchKit, must comply with applicable law for each Territory in which the App is made available, as well as Sections 3.3.28 and 3.3.39 of the iOS Developer Program License Agreement

    • 27.2

      Apps that write false or inaccurate data into HealthKit or CareKit will be rejected

    • 27.4

      Apps may not use or disclose to third parties user data gathered from the HealthKit APIor CareKit APIs or from health-related human subject research for advertising or other use-based data mining purposes other than improving health, or for the purpose of health research

    • 27.5

      Apps that share user data acquired via the HealthKit APIor CareKit APIs with third parties without user consent will be rejected

    • 27.6

      Apps using the HealthKit frameworkor CareKit frameworks must indicate integration with the Health app in their marketing text and must clearly identify the HealthKit and CareKit functionality in the app’s user interface

    • 27.7

      Apps using the HealthKit frameworkor CareKit frameworks or conducting human subject research must provide a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    30. Apple Music API

    • 30.1

      Apps using the Apple Music API that trigger playback without explicit user action will be rejected

    • 30.2

      Apps using the Apple Music API must expose and respect standard media controls such as “play,” pause,” and “skip”

    • 30.3

      Apps using the Apple Music API may not require payment or otherwise monetize access to the Apple Music service (eg. in-app purchase, advertising, requesting user info)

    October 21, 2015

    Guidelines updated for tvOS apps

    Along with other releases (iOS 9.1, watchOS 2.0.1 and tvOS GM) Apple silently updated the App Store Review Guidelines today. The changes listed below are mostly related to the release of the new Apple TV, but the new Apple Pencil also gets a mention.

    The new section 2.27 is rather confusing in its mention of the new Siri remote without explaining that the section only applies to tvOS apps (which we assume).

    The updated section 3.6 now says that tvOS top shelf extensions must only show content that adhere to the 4+ age rating. This basically means that we should be very careful with using any user generated content for the top shelf.

    2. Functionality

    • 2.27

      If your app’s core functionality doesn’t work with the Siri remote it will be rejected. The app may, however, provide enhanced functionality in connection with a game controller or other peripheral

    3. Metadata (name, descriptions, ratings, rankings, etc.)

    • 3.6

      Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews, and images displayed when an Apple TV app is in the top shelf of the Apple TV home screen that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected

    • 3.17

      App previews and screenshots that include content played or streamed via the app (e.g. iTunes playlistmusic, YouTube streaming video, and related cover art) that is not licensed for use in the preview or screenshots will be rejected

    10. User interface

    11. Purchasing and currencies

    • 11.8

      Apps that use IAP to purchase access to built-in capabilities provided by iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, such as the camera or the gyroscope, or Apple-branded peripherals, such as Apple Pencil or Apple Keyboard, will be rejected

    September 16, 2015

    After releasing iOS 9 Apple just renames Passbook and make no other changes

    With the release of iOS 9 we expected Apple to make a bunch of changes to the App Store Review Guidelines like they did last year. But this time the only change is that Passbook has been renamed to Wallet.

    23. PassbookWallet

    • 23.1

      Passbook PassesWallet passes can be used to make or receive payments, transmit offers, or offer identification (such as movie tickets, airline tickets, coupons and reward offers). Other uses may result in the rejection of the App and the revocation of PassbookWallet credentials

    • 23.2

      Passes must include valid contact information from the issuer of the pass or the App will be rejected and PassbookWallet credentials may be revoked

    • 23.3

      Passes must be signed by the entity that will be distributing the pass under its own name, trademark, or brand or the App will be rejected and PassbookWallet credentials may be revoked

    April 28, 2015

    Watch apps for telling time and Human Subject Research

    Shortly after customers begin to receive their Apple Watches and Apple boasts over 3,500 Watch apps are available, Apple made two small changes to the App Store Review Guidelines. The new section 10.7 states that watch apps must do more than just telling time. Also a new requirement on Human Subject Research says that the research should have approval from an independant ethics review board.

    10. User interface

    • 10.2

      Apps that look similar to Apps bundled on the iPhoneiOS or Watch OS devices, including the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store, will be rejected

    • 10.7

      Watch Apps whose primary function is telling time will be rejected

    27. HealthKit and Human Subject Research

    • 27.10

      Apps conducting health-related human subject research must secure approval from an independent ethics review board. Proof of such approval must be provided upon request.

    March 12, 2015

    Research Kit, Apple Pay recurring payments, SoundCloud downloads

    After the Spring Forward media event earlier this week Apple has updated the App Store Review Guidelines with a few changes to the HealthKit so that it also mentions ResearchKit and there is a new paragraph on Apple Pay recurring payments. Finally there is a new paragraph stating that apps downloading media from online services such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo etc. must obtain permission from those companies before doing so.

    8. Content and Intellectual Property Rights

    • 8.6

      Apps that include the ability to download music or video content from third party sources (e.g. YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo, etc) without explicit authorization from those sources will be rejected

    9. Media content

    • 9.4

      Video streaming content over a cellular network longer than 10 minutes must use HTTP Live Streaming and include a baseline 64192 kbps or lower HTTP Live stream

    27. HealthKit and Human Subject Research

    • 27.1

      Apps using the HealthKit framework or conducting human subject research for health purposes, such as through the use of ResearchKit, must comply with applicable law for each Territory in which the App is made available, as well as Sections 3.3.28 and 3.3.39 of the iOS Developer Program License Agreement

    • 27.4

      Apps may not use or disclose to third parties user data gathered from the HealthKit API or from health-related human subject research for advertising or other use-based data mining purposes other than improving health, medical, and fitness management, or for the purpose of medicalhealth research

    • 27.7

      Apps using the HealthKit framework or conducting human subject research must provide a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    • 27.9

      Apps conducting health-related human subject research must obtain consent from participants or, in the case of minors, their parent or guardian. Such consent must include the (a) nature, purpose, and duration of the research; (b) procedures, risks, and benefits to the participant; (c) information about confidentiality and handling of data (including any sharing with third parties); (d) a point of contact for participant questions; and (e) the withdrawal process

    29. Apple Pay

    • 29.1

      Apps using Apple Pay must provide all material purchase information to the user prior to sale of any good or service or they will be rejected; Apps using Apple Pay to offer recurring payments must, at a minimum, disclose the length of the renewal term and the fact that it will continue until canceled, what will be provided during each period, the charges that will be billed to the customer, and how to cancel.

    • 29.2

      Apps using Apple Pay must use Apple Pay branding and user interface elements correctly and as described in the Apple Pay Human InterfaceIdentity Guidelines or they will be rejected

    September 11, 2014

    Apple Pay Changes

    Only a week after the last revision Apple again updates the App Store Review Guidelines with a new section 29 on Apple Pay.

    29. Apple Pay

    • 29.1

      Apps using Apple Pay must provide all material purchase information to the user prior to sale of any good or service or they will be rejected

    • 29.2

      Apps using Apple Pay must use Apple Pay branding and user interface elements correctly and as described in the Apple Pay Human Interface Guidelines or they will be rejected

    • 29.3

      Apps using Apple Pay as a purchasing mechanism may not offer goods or services that violate the law of any territory in which the good or service will be delivered and may not be used for any illegal purpose

    • 29.4

      Apps using Apple Pay must provide a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    • 29.5

      Apps using Apple Pay may only share user data acquired via Apple Pay with third parties when provided to facilitate or improve delivery of goods and services or to comply with legal requirements

    September 03, 2014

    Introducing Previews, Flagging, Privacy Policy, Extensions, HomeKit, Healtkit and TestFlight

    Together with the iOS 8 release Apple updated the App Store Review Guidelines with new sections on Extensions, HomeKit, HealtKit and Testflight. Some rules on the new app previews (videos) were also introduce along with a requirement to have a privacy policy and a flagging feature if the app has user generated content.

    2. Functionality

    • 2.9

      Apps that are "beta", "demo", "trial", or "test" versions will be rejected. Beta Apps may only be submitted through TestFlight and must follow the TestFlight guidelines

    • 2.25

      Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or which provide significant added value for a specific group of customers

    3. Metadata (name, descriptions, ratings, rankings, etc.)

    • 3.3

      Apps with names, descriptions, or screenshots , or previews not relevant to the content and functionality of the App will be rejected

    • 3.6

      Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected

    • 3.13

      Apps with screenshots, previews, and marketing text that do not clearly identify supplemental content or items that must be purchased separately (e.g. using IAP) will be rejected

    • 3.14

      App previews may only use video screen captures of the app, voice-overs, and textual and design overlays, or the app will be rejected

    • 3.15

      Apps with previews that display personal information of a real person without permission will be rejected/span>

    • 3.16

      App previews may only include music that is licensed for that purpose in all selected territories

    • 3.17

      App previews that include content played or streamed via the app (e.g. iTunes playlist, YouTube streaming video) that is not licensed for use in the preview will be rejected

    14. Personal attacks

    • 14.3

      Apps that display user generated content must include a method for filtering objectionable material, a mechanism for users to flag offensive content, and the ability to block abusive users from the service

    17. Privacy

    • 17.5

      Apps that include account registration or access a user’s existing account must include a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    • 22.10

      Apps that use iTunes music previews in an unauthorized manner will be rejected

    25. Extensions

    • 25.1

      Apps hosting extensions must comply with the App Extension Programming Guide

    • 25.2

      Apps hosting extensions must provide some functionality (help screens, additional settings) or they will be rejected

    • 25.3

      Apps hosting extensions that include marketing, advertising, or in-app purchases in their extension view will be rejected

    • 25.4

      Keyboard extensions must provide a method for progressing to the next keyboard

    • 25.5

      Keyboard extensions must remain functional with no network access or they will be rejected

    • 25.6

      Keyboard extensions must provide Number and Decimal keyboard types as described in the App Extension Programming Guide or they will be rejected

    • 25.7

      Apps offering Keyboard extensions must have a primary category of Utilities and a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    • 25.8

      Apps offering Keyboard extensions may only collect user activity to enhance the functionality of their keyboard extension on the iOS device or they may be rejected

    26. HomeKit

    • 26.1

      Apps using the HomeKit framework must have a primary purpose of providing home automation services

    • 26.2

      Apps using the HomeKit framework must indicate this usage in their marketing text and they must provide a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    • 26.3

      Apps must not use data gathered from the HomeKit APIs for advertising or other use-based data mining

    • 26.4

      Apps using data gathered from the HomeKit API for purposes other than improving the user experience or hardware/software performance in providing home automation functionality will be rejected

    27. HealthKit

    • 27.1

      Apps using the HealthKit framework must comply with applicable law for each Territory in which the App is made available, as well as Sections 3.3.28 and 3.39 of the iOS Developer Program License Agreement

    • 27.2

      Apps that write false or inaccurate data into HealthKit will be rejected

    • 27.3

      Apps using the HealthKit framework that store users’ health information in iCloud will be rejected

    • 27.4

      Apps may not use user data gathered from the HealthKit API for advertising or other use-based data mining purposes other than improving health, medical, and fitness management, or for the purpose of medical research

    • 27.5

      Apps that share user data acquired via the HealthKit API with third parties without user consent will be rejected

    • 27.6

      Apps using the HealthKit framework must indicate integration with the Health app in their marketing text and must clearly identify the HealthKit functionality in the app’s user interface

    • 27.7

      Apps using the HealthKit framework must provide a privacy policy or they will be rejected

    • 27.8

      Apps that provide diagnoses, treatment advice, or control hardware designed to diagnose or treat medical conditions that do not provide written regulatory approval upon request will be rejected

    28. TestFlight

    • 28.1

      Apps may only use TestFlight to beta test apps intended for public distribution and must comply with the full App Review Guidelines

    • 28.2

      Apps using TestFlight must be submitted for review whenever a build contains material changes to content or functionality

    • 28.3

      Apps using TestFlight may not be distributed to testers in exchange for compensation of any kind

    August 09, 2014

    Apple Allows Recommending Related Apps and Bitcoin Apps.

    Most notably in this set of changes of the App Store Review Guidelines, Apple now allows apps to show a collection of other apps that don’t have to be your own if they form a collection in a way Apple approves. Apps are now also allowed to facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies. In other words Bitcoin apps are now officially allowed.

    2. Functionality

    • 2.25

      Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or which provide significant added value for a specific group of customers

    • 2.26

      Apps may display and recommend apps other than your own only if the collection is designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or provides significant added value for a specific group of customers, or they will be rejected

    3. Metadata (name, descriptions, ratings, rankings, etc.)

    • 3.13

      Apps with screenshots and marketing text that do not clearly identify supplemental content or items that must be purchased separately (e.g. using IAP) will be rejected

    8. Trademarks and trade dressContent and Intellectual Property Rights

    • 8.3

      Apps that appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product, interface, or advertising theme will be rejected

    11. Purchasing and currencies

    • 11.9

      Apps containing content or services that expire after a limited time will be rejected, except for specific approved content (e.g. films, television programs, music, books)

    • 11.17

      Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions

    20. Contests, sweepstakes, lotteries, raffles, and gambling

    • 20.4

      Apps that allow a user to directly purchase a lottery or raffle ticket in the App will be rejected

    • 20.5

      Apps that offer real money gaming (e.g. sports betting, poker, casino games, horse racing) or lotteries must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store

    24. Kids Category

    • 24.1

      Apps primarily intended for use by kidsin the Kids Category must include a privacy policy and must comply with applicable children's privacy statutes

    • 24.2

      Apps primarily intended for use by kidsin the Kids Category may not include behavioral advertising (e.g. the advertiser may not serve ads based on the user's activity within the App), and any contextual ads presented in the App must be appropriate for kids

    • 24.3

      Apps primarily intended forin the Kids Category must get parental permission or use by kids must geta parental permission or use a parental gate before allowing the user to link out of the app or engage in commerce

    March 30, 2014

    Cellular Download Limit and Kids Category

    A few general changes were introduced in this revision of the App Store Review Guidelines. The limit for downloading apps over 3G cellular were raised from 50 MB to 100 MB the iBookstore was renamed to iBooks Store. Section 24 “Kids Apps” was renamed to “Kids Category” along with the introduction of the new special App Store category.

    2. Functionality

    • 2.15

      Apps larger than 50MB100MB in size will not download over cellular networks (this is automatically prohibited by the App Store)

    • 2.21

      Apps that are simply a song or movie should be submitted to the iTunes store. Apps that are simply a book should be submitted to the iBookstoreiBooks Store

    • 2.25

      Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or which provide significant added value for a specific group of customers

    3. Metadata (name, descriptions, ratings, rankings, etc.)

    • 3.3

      Apps with names, descriptions, or screenshots not relevant to the App content and functionality will be rejected

    4. Location

    • 4.3

      Apps that use location-based APIs for dispatch, fleet management, or emergency services will be rejected

    5. Push Notifications

    • 5.3

      Apps that send Push Notifications without first obtaining user consent, as well as apps that require Push Notifications to function, will be rejected

    9. Media content

    • 9.4

      Video streaming content over a cellular network longer than 10 minutes must use HTTP Live Streaming and include a baseline 64 kbps audio-only HTTP Live stream

    10. User interface

    • 10.2

      Apps that look similar to Apps bundled on the iPhone, including the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstoreiBooks Store, will be rejected

    11. Purchasing and currencies

    • 11.9

      Apps containing "rental" content or services that expire after a limited time will be rejected, except for specific approved content (e.g. films, television programs)

    17. Privacy

    • 17.4

      Apps that collect, transmit, or have the capability to share personal information (e.g. name, address, email, location, photos, videos, drawings, persistent identifiers, the ability to chat, or other personal data, or persistent identifiers used in combination with any of the above) from a minor must comply with applicable children's privacy statutes

    21. Charities and contributions

    • 21.2

      The collection of charitable donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS

    24. Kids AppsCategory

    • 24.1

      Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 must include a privacy policy and must comply with applicable children's privacy statutes

    • 24.2

      Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 may not include behavioral advertising (e.g. the advertiser may not serve ads based on the user's activity within the App), and any contextual ads presented in the App must be appropriate for kids

    • 24.3

      Apps primarily intended for use by kids under 13 must get parental permission or use a parental gate before allowing the user to link out of the app or engage in commerce