Apple finally reveals guidelines for app approval

Sep 9, 2010
Tech

In an effort to be “more transparent” and help independent developers “create even more successful apps for the App Store”, Apple today released new guidelines that illustrate how apps are approved by the company. Acknowledging that it can “get complicated” determining which apps measure up to the standards of the two-year-old and multi-billion dollar App […]

In an effort to be “more transparent” and help independent developers “create even more successful apps for the App Store”, Apple today released new guidelines that illustrate how apps are approved by the company.

Acknowledging that it can “get complicated” determining which apps measure up to the standards of the two-year-old and multi-billion dollar App Store business, Apple reaffirmed that it retains final approval of what ultimately gets blessed for public consumption. The company also noted a distinction between apps and music, books and other media marketed via iTunes.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Apple reserves the right to be more selective in approving apps.

“If you want to criticize a religion, write a book,” noted the informally-written guidelines. “If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app.”

Sharing its rationale

In its guidelines, Apple articulated human and common sense reasons as to why it approves some apps and discards others. While the App Store will never be a complete open democracy (which isn’t really part of its DNA), the company hopes examples such as those shared below will ease the concerns of critics who complain about Apple’s closed state of operations.

  • We have lots of kids downloading lots of apps, and parental controls don’t work unless the parents set them up (many don’t). So know that we’re keeping an eye out for the kids.
  • We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted.
  • 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 your app is rejected, we have a Review Board that you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps.
  • This is a living document, and new apps presenting new questions may result in new rules at any time. Perhaps your app will trigger this.
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While no individual guideline is, in itself, surprising or controversial, it is notable the privacy-obsessed company went all “Let it Be Naked” with its rules. Perhaps this is a precursor of more surprises to come?

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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