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December 21, 2017

Crypto currencies and ICOs, template apps, loot boxes and more

Wednesday the App Store Review Guidelines was updated with quite a few changes. Besides some minor clarifications, new sections were introduced about:

  • Crypto currencies and ICOs now have a dedicated section.
  • The ban on template apps is clarified so its now more clear exactly what kinds of apps are affected. Techcrunch spotted this change too.
  • There is a few paragraphs on apps available for pre-order.
  • Details about what is allowed when offering so-called “loot boxes” in games.
  • Financial apps must come from the financial institutions performing the services or they should at least use public APIs.
  • A new section on VPN apps details some rules specific to this app type.

Check out all the changes below.

Introduction

  • We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions and the quality of the app experience is great. 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.
  • 2.1 App Completeness

    Submissions to App Review , including apps you make available for pre-order, should be final versions with all necessary metadata and fully functional URLs included; placeholder text, empty websites, and other temporary content should be scrubbed before submission. Make sure your app has been tested on-device for bugs and stability before you submit it, and include demo account info (and turn on your back-end service!) if your app includes a login. If you offer in-app purchases in your app, make sure they are complete, up-to-date, and visible to the reviewer, or that you explain why not in your review notes. Please don’t treat App Review as a software testing service. We will reject incomplete app bundles and binaries that crash or exhibit obvious technical problems.

  • 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 in-app purchase Display Name, Screenshot and Description are appropriate for a public audience , that you follow the guidance found in Promoting Your In-App Purchases , and that your app properly handles the SKPaymentTransactionObserver method so that customers can seamlessly complete the purchase when your app launches.
    • 2.3.11 Apps you submit for pre-order on the App Store must be complete and deliverable as submitted. Ensure that the app you ultimately release is not materially different from what you advertise while the app is in a pre-order state. If you make material changes to the app (e.g. change business models), you should restart your pre-order sales.
  • 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. Apps should use APIs and frameworks for their intended purposes and indicate that integration in their app description. For example, the HomeKit framework should provide home automation services; and HealthKit should be used for health and fitness purposes and integrate with the Health app.
  • 3.1 Payments
    • 3.1.1 In-App Purchase:
      • Apps offering “loot boxes” or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase.
      • 3.1.2(a) Permissible uses:
        • You may offer a single subscription that is shared across your own apps and services, but these subscriptions may not extend to third party apps or services. Subscriptions Games offered in a game subscription 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, review 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 be owned or exclusively licensed by the developer (e.g. not part of a game publishing platform). Each game must be downloaded directly from the App Store, must be designed to avoid duplicate payment by a subscriber, and should not disadvantage non-subscriber customers.
        • 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, review 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 include consumable credits, gems, in-game currencies, etc., and you may offer subscriptions that include access to discounted consumable goods (e.g. a platinum membership that exposes gem-packs for a reduced price).
      • 3.1.5 (b) Cryptocurrencies: Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies (e.g. Bitcoin, DogeCoin) provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions. Apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), cryptocurrency futures trading, and other crypto-securities or quasi-securities trading must come from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions and must comply with all applicable law.
    • 3.2 Other Business Model Issues
      • 3.2.1 Acceptable
        • (viii) Apps used for financial trading, investing, or money management should come from the financial institution performing such services or must use a public API offered by the institution in compliance with its Terms & Conditions.
      • 3.2.2 Unacceptable
        • (viii) Apps that facilitate binary options trading are not permitted on the App Store. Consider a web app instead. Apps that facilitate trading in contracts for difference (“CFDs”) or other derivatives (e.g. FOREX) must be properly licensed in all jurisdictions where the service is available.
    • 4.2 Minimum Functionality
      • 4.2.1 Apps using ARKit should use APIs and frameworks for their intended purposes and indicate that integration in their app description. For example, the HomeKit framework should provide home automation services; and HealthKit should be used for health and fitness purposes and integrate with the Health app. Apps using ARKit should provide rich and integrated augmented reality experiences; merely dropping a model into an AR view or replaying animation is not enough.
      • 4.2.6 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.
    • 4.4 Extensions
      • 4.4.1 Keyboard extensions have some additional rules.

        They must:

        • Remain functional without full network access and without requiring full access; Provide Number and Decimal keyboard types as described in the App Extension Programming Guide ;
    • 5.4 VPN Apps

      Apps offering VPN services must utilize the NEVPNManager API and must make a clear declaration of what user data will be collected and how it will be used. VPN apps must not violate local laws, and if you choose to make your VPN app available in a territory that requires a VPN license, you must provide your license information in the App Review Notes field.