By 2018, less than 0.01% of mobile apps will...
An insight into the App Store review guidelinesApple is very particular about software quality & user experience, and the strict policy bears its fruit. Even though Google outperforms Apple in terms of downloads, the App Store generates 75% more in revenues. The iOS-first dev trend is still huge. Apple is a golden mine for developers. And vendors do their best to meet the company’s high standards. If you try to bypass its restrictions or do not follow the iOS App Store guidelines, the company won’t accept your masterpiece and might even ban you from developer team. So, what’s no good for Apple?
FunctionalityApplications get stuck in the “processing for App Store” stage for weeks if they:
- Crash, have bugs, fail to perform the way it was stated or include undocumented features. There is a separate category for trial/beta versions, so make sure your developer follows the TestFlight guidelines;
- Exceed the size limit of 100 MB (compared to 200 MB for tvOS software). According to Data Storage Guidelines, all the data apart from app bundle, temp and cache directories, is backed up. If you intend to store certain files on device, they should be marked with the “do not back up” attribute;
- Employ non-public APIs and download/execute any type of code. And you can’t be too careful with this one. 4 years ago, the company removed the Rogue Amoeba audio recording software for making AirPlay APIs look like they weren’t public, although no violation was detected;
- Are designed for Apple TV and support game controllers, but don not work with the Siri remote (this is especially important for game developers);
- Make use of Apple Push Notification APIs, but do not ask for user consent before delivering notifications. It’s the same with applications that collect and transmit location data, use location APIs to automatically control vehicles or store Universal Device Identifier (UDID) – just like Tweetbot in 2012;
- Display Player ID to other users (for games);
- Stream video content via a cellular network, but run over 10 minutes and do not use HTTP Live Streaming;
- Do not employ MediaPlayer framework and allow access to third-party video and music content sources without proper authentication.
ContentWhat App Store entries will never get an approval?
- Copy-cats of existing mobile apps (especially when there are many of them). Remember the killer fart app? iOS developers even tried to push one on Apple Watch, but eventually failed. Sometimes vendors get accused of plagiarism simply because they name apps after popular franchises. After the Flappy Bird game hit #1 on iTunes, Apple started to reject applications with the names like “Flappy Bee” and “Flappy Dragon”, although their content was original;
- Apps that promote drug/alcohol usage and violence, or simply “cross the line” (like Obama Trampoline);
- Child-unfriendly content. In 2013, the updated 500px app was removed from the store because it allowed access to nude photos (in fact, the latest version of the app made the search more difficult, and it wasn’t porn anyway). The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth application was rejected by Apple because it “depicts violence against children”. The game is actually based on the Abraham & its son story from the Bible;
- Videos, songs and books (you’ve got iTunes and iBooks after all);
- Apps that contain Apple-owned graphic images, names and their variations.
Advertising & in-app purchasesThe iOS App Store developer guidelines urge you not to submit:
- Programs which are primarily meant to advertise goods or display ads (like the AppGratis; the application was removed from the store for using push notifications to deliver ads & promoting mobile software from third-party developers). Also, you cannot sell physical goods inside the store, so any soft that contains links to websites (even if you design a “Buy” button) won’t make the cut;
- Software that automatically increases CTR and the number of ad impressions, as well as applications with empty iAd banners;
- App Store wannabes (the catalogues similar to AppGratis). However, you can promote high-quality applications arranged by categories (education, healthcare, etc.);
- Mobile soft with integrated third-party payment mechanisms like PayPal (that’s how Apple takes 30% of in-app purchase revenues including subscription fees);
- Games selling credits/in-app currency that can be used in the real world;
- Programs that charge users for features provided by Apple for free (like Apple Keyboard or Pencil).
UI/UXIn order to maintain great user experience, the company encourages third-party developers to take advantage of the full screen and build apps that run on different iOS devices. iOS vendors should focus on content and avoid using heavy UI elements which distract user attention (“drop shadows”, for example). Good iOS apps usually feature translucent components and system font and emphasize data with the help of key colors and negative space.
Here’s a brief summary of the App Store UX/UI review guidelines:
- Your app’s layout shouldn’t copy Apple website or services design;
- Applications that change functions of the standard switches (volume and silent ring) are not accepted;
- Mobile software that delivers multi-app widget experience will be rejected;
- An iOS application must not look like it took 3 days to build (the key argument to trust your project to an experienced vendor).