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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