Apple have distributed their latest updates made to the App Store Review Guidelines, which we started receiving this morning. Most of these updates do not effect the apps in general except for the most noticeable one related to tracking. Here’s our summary of some important review guidelines to keep an eye out for:
- — Developers now need to receive explicit permission from users in order to track their activity.
These updates clarify certain points requesting developers to be more explicit in their explanations on the App Store about what the app consists of, and what the user will receive from your app.
- — If the app contains initial downloads in order to function, the developer is required to give an estimated size that the app will take after download.
- — The description and “what’s new” section on the App Store needs to clearly explain the core functionality of the app.
- — The keywords used for searching needs to reflect the app’s functionality and is not to be used to provide keywords with names of competitor apps.
- — It is now clearer that apps promoting the use of alcohol, tabacco, vape products and illegal drugs are prohibited
- — Finance apps need to be provided directly by the company providing the service
- — Since apps must run only on the supported operating systems, apps running on other emulators like Java are not allowed. Rosetta has been removed as an example of such technologies, meaning that apps running on Rosetta are allowed. This is most probably due to the introduction of Apple Silicon based Macs.
Below is the email received from Apple detailing the updated review guidelines changes:
The App Store is a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great opportunity for developers. The App Store Review Guideline changes and clarifications support new features in upcoming OS releases, better protect customers, and help your apps go through the review process as smoothly as possible. Review the updates below. Please note that all new apps and app updates submitted to the App Store must follow the revised guideline 5.1.2(i) by early spring 2021.
- 1.4.3: Clarified the prohibition of promoting certain substances: “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 is not allowed.”
- 2.3: Clarified the information that must accurately reflect the app’s core experience: “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: Clarified what metadata shouldn’t include: “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. Metadata such as app names, subtitles, screenshots, and previews should not include prices, terms, or descriptions that are not specific 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.”
- 2.4.5(viii): Removed Rosetta as an example: “Apps should run on the currently shipping OS and may not use deprecated or optionally installed technologies (e.g., Java).”
- 3.1.1: Clarified that these items must be sold through in-app purchase: “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.”
- 3.1.1: Clarified how apps can enable customers to “tip” developers: “Apps may use in-app purchase currencies to enable customers to “tip” the developer or digital content providers in the app.”
- 3.1.1: Deleted: “Remember to assign the correct purchasability type or your app will be rejected.”
- 3.1.2(a): Clarified how certain games can offer a subscription across third-party apps and services: “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): Clarified what enterprise users can access and what purchase methods they can use: “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 in-app purchase.”
- 3.1.3(d): Changed terminology from “person-to-person experiences” to “person-to-person services” to clarify that services provided by one individual to another are in scope: “If your app enables the purchase of realtime person-to-person services 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 services must use in-app purchase.”
- 3.2.1(viii): Clarified who can create apps for these services. Removed option to use a public API: “Apps used for financial trading, investing, or money management should come from the financial institution performing such services.”
- 3.2.2(ix): Removed duplicative section regarding forcing users to perform actions, which is fully covered by 3.2.2(vi); renumbered former 3.2.2(x).
- 4.2.3(iii): Clarified the information that certain apps need to disclose: “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.”
- 5.1.1(ix): Clarified that gambling is a heavily-regulated field in scope: “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(i): Added: “You must receive explicit permission from users via the App Tracking Transparency APIs to track their activity. Learn more about tracking.”
- After You Submit: Reordered the paragraph describing appeals for clarity.
If you have any questions, contact us.
Apple Developer Relations