Apple gets several app review requests every day. And it is notorious for rejecting a lot of them. Considering that Apple is one of the biggest tech firms in the country, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The company updated its Review guidelines last year which just goes to show how stringent the company is about which software can go in its online store.
If you are in the process of developing an app and hoping that it makes it through Apple’s review process, you have your work cut out for you. In this post, we will discuss how you can circumvent the penalties by giving real examples of apps that got through the cracks, got published and were still sent rejection notices once spotted.
#1. Your App is Controversial
There are over 200,000 apps available in the App Store and each one of them went through Apple’s review process before being published. According to an excerpt from the company’s SDK (Software Development Kit), “Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.) or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.” Unfortunately, sometimes a controversial app might slip through the cracks. Party Trampoline is one of them.
What was the offense? Ridiculing public officials. In the game you could make prominent political figures from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama jump on the trampoline in the Oval office. Apple thought that it might seem offensive to some people and made its reservations known to the developers who created the app. To prevent a rejection, Party Trampoline made the figures wear paper bags over their heads.
What to do – Controversial content belongs in tabloids, not in an app that is supposed to be put up on one of the most respected tech brands in the world.
Must Read: How To Get Your App Featured on App Store
#2. Your App is like Apple’s Own Products
Apps that are similar and are from the same developer are bound to be rejected. What most people don’t know is that the company also rejects applications that might mimic their own products. These might include similarities in UI or UX.
To illustrate this, consider Convertbot, a unit conversion application that faced a rejection after a reviewer noticed that the app’s time icon resembled the Recents icon on Apple’s phone application.
What to do – The design phase of your app is just as important as its development. Keep in mind, Apple is notoriously stringent about protecting copyrights, especially its own. To ensure that you don’t step on any toes, make sure that your product’s UI doesn’t resemble any features in Apple’s own products.
#3. Your App is Illegal
When you attempt to post an app on an online store that prides itself for creating the platforms on the planet, you better make sure that your product doesn’t have anything that might mar its integrity. Unfortunately, to get as many downloads as possible, some app developers cross the line and try to post products that either host illegal content or allow users to engage in activities that may be against the law.
Drivetrain is one of them. This app basically encouraged users to engage in an illegal activity – downloading files for free instead of paying for them. The app is basically a remote for a program that allows this, BitTorrent. But that didn’t deter Apple from throwing it in the reject pile. As the company reasons, “This category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing third party rights.”
What to do – Make sure that your application doesn’t allow users to engage, or even pretend to engage, in activities that might be in violation of the law.
#4. Your App is Offensive to a Certain Group
Racism, even if it is implied, is a red flag for Apple. If it comes across an app that might be biased of certain groups during its review process, it slams it with a rejection. Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigrant is a prime example of an app that faced this scrutiny.
The iPhone game basically requires players to drive a truck full of illegal immigrants across the desert. To win, you had to prevent the occupants from being thrown out as the vehicle barreled through rocky terrains. Immigrant Advocate groups, understandably, didn’t think that it was very funny. Apple had the same sentiments and banned the app.
What to do – Your app’s content matters to Apple just as much as its UX. Make sure that it doesn’t insinuate anything that might cause some groups to take offense.
Developers often keep Apple’s review guidelines in mind while developing applications. So when they are still hit with rejection notices anyway, surprise ensues. The case studies in this post should give you a pretty good idea about what developers should keep in mind before they try to post their apps on the App Store.