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February 02, 2021

Clarifications and App Tracking Transparency

Apple has updated the App Store Review Guidelines with support for new features in upcoming OS releases, e.g. App Tracking Transparency, better protection of customers, and more help to get your apps through the review process as smoothly as possible.

The complete set of changes can be seen below:

  • 1.4 Physical Harm

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

    • 1.4.3 Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco and vape products, illegal 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 controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies), marijuana, or tobacco, or controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies) isn’t is not allowed.
    • 2.3 Accurate Metadata

      Customers should know what they’re getting when they download or buy your app, so make sure all your app metadata, including privacy information, your app description, screenshots, and previews accurately reflect the app’s core experience and remember to keep them up-to-date with new versions.

      • 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, pricing information, or other irrelevant phrases just to game the system. App names must be limited to 30 characters and. Metadata such as app names, subtitles, screenshots, and previews should not include prices, terms, or descriptions that are not the name of the appspecific to the metadata type. 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 or take other appropriate steps to prevent abuse.
    • 2.4 Hardware Compatibility
      • 2.4.5 Apps distributed via the Mac App Store have some additional requirements to keep in mind:
        • (viii) Apps should run on the currently shipping OS and may not use deprecated or optionally installed technologies (e.g. Java, Rosetta)
    • 3.1 Payments
      • 3.1.1 In-App Purchase:
        • Apps may use in-app purchase currencies to enable customers to “tip” the developer or digital content providers in the app.
        • Any credits or in-game currencies purchased via in-app purchase may not expire, and you should make sure you have a restore mechanism for any restorable in-app purchases.
        • Remember to assign the correct purchasability type or your app will be rejected.
        • Gift cards, certificates, vouchers, and coupons which can be redeemed for digital goods or services can only be sold in your app using in-app purchase.
      • 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. While the following list is not exhaustive, examples of appropriate subscriptions include: new game levels; episodic content; multiplayer 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:
        • Games offered in a streaming game service subscription may offer a single subscription that is shared across third-party apps and services; however, they 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.
      • 3.1.3(c) Enterprise Services: If your app is only sold directly by you to organizations or groups for their employees or students (for example professional databases and classroom management tools), you may allow enterprise users to access previously-purchased content or subscriptions. Consumer, single user, or family sales must use purchase methods in addition to in-app purchase to collect those payments. Consumer, single user, or family sales must use in-app purchase.
      • 3.1.3(d) Person-to-Person Experiences:Services: If your app enables the purchase of realtime person-to-person experiencesservices between two individuals (for example tutoring students, medical consultations, real estate tours, or fitness training), you may use purchase methods other than in-app purchase to collect those payments. One-to-few and one-to-many realtime experiencesservices must use in-app purchase.
    • 3.2 Other Business Model Issues

      The lists below are not exhaustive, and your submission may trigger a change or update to our policies, but here are some additional dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

      • 3.2.1 Acceptable
        • (vii) Apps may enable individual users to give a monetary gift to another individual without using in-app purchase, provided that (a) the gift is a completely optional choice by the giver, and (b) 100% of the funds go to the receiver of the gift. However, a gift that is connected to or associated at any point in time with receiving digital content or services must use in-app purchase.
        • (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
        • (ix) Apps offering personal loans must not force users to rate the app, review the app, download other apps, or perform other similar actions in order to access functionality, content, or use of the app. (x) Apps offering personal loans must clearly and conspicuously disclose all loan terms, including but not limited to equivalent maximum Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and payment due date. Apps may not charge a maximum APR higher than 36%, including costs and fees, and may not require repayment in full in 60 days or less.
  • 4.2 Minimum Functionality
    • 4.2.3
      • (iii) If your app needs to download additional resources in order to function on initial launch, disclose the size of the download and prompt users before doing so.
  • 5.1 Privacy
    • 5.1.1 Data Collection and Storage
      • (ix) Apps that provide services in highly-regulated fields (such as banking and financial services, healthcare, gambling, and air travel) or that require sensitive user information should be submitted by a legal entity that provides the services, and not by an individual developer.
    • 5.1.2 Data Use and Sharing
      • (i) Unless otherwise permitted by law, you may not use, transmit, or share someone’s personal data without first obtaining their permission. You must provide access to information about how and where the data will be used. Data collected from apps may only be shared with third parties to improve the app or serve advertising (in compliance with the Apple Developer Program License Agreement). You must receive explicit permission from users via the App Tracking Transparency APIs to track their activity. Learn more about tracking. Apps that share user data without user consent or otherwise complying with data privacy laws may be removed from sale and may result in your removal from the Apple Developer Program.
      • (vii) Apps using Apple Pay may only share user data acquired via Apple Pay may only share user data acquired via Apple Pay with third parties to facilitate or improve delivery of goods and services.
  • After You Submit

    • Appeals: If you disagree with the outcome of your review, or would like to suggest a change to the guideline itself, please submit an appeal. This may help get your app on the store, and it can help us improve the App Review process or identify a need for clarity in our policies.