Apple updates App Store developer guidelines, warns against "cheating the system"

App Store Review Guidelines

Earlier today when Apple announced in-app subscriptions would be available to all they also updated the iOS App Store review guidelines reflecting the change. And it looks like Apple threw in a few additions, one which specifically warns against developers who "cheat the system".

If you attempt to cheat the system (for example, by trying to trick the review process, steal data from users, copy another developer's work, or manipulate the ratings) your apps will be removed from the store and you will be expelled from the developer program.

That's a pretty stern warning to devs who piggyback off of the success of other developers, and will hopefully help cut down on other manipulations of the system we've seen before. Other additions in the updated guidelines include:

  • A expansion of overly duplicated apps to include fart, burp, flashlight and Kama Sutra apps
  • A warning against arbitrary carrier differentiation in apps (no needless AT&T or Verizon-specific versions of apps)
  • A caution against advising users to reboot following an app install
  • A advisory that media-only apps should be sent to iTunes, not the App Store

We're still combing through the update, but let us know if you see anything big we might have missed in the comments!

[Apple via TUAW]

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Apple updates App Store developer guidelines, warns against "cheating the system"

37 Comments

Can you explain the last line? "Websites bundled as apps are also a no-no". What does that mean for compilers like PhoneGap?

I believe this is referring to websites that put out apps in an app "wrapper", only displaying the website from within the app without offering any additional features or added value. The user can just go into Mobile Safari and navigate to the website in order to complete the same task, so without a significant differentiator (UI) from the website itself, such apps would be rejected.

That makes sense, I guess. Apple can't control what the web content is - and you could easily switch the content after the app was approved.
I guess things like PhoneGap that compile the HTML, CSS, and JS as part of the app would be ok in that case. That's good to hear.
Thanks for the info!

Sigh. Yet more punitive measures threatened against people for violating ill-defined guidelines subject to interpretation, without any documented appeal process, and, of course subject to change unilaterally and without notice.

Would manufacturing iPhones with child labor under living and work conditions that lead to a high rate of suicide be kind of "cheating the system"? Just wondering......

It's not Apple's employees that "build" the iPhone and other devices, they are contracted to FoxCon (Sp?) and Apple has tried very hard to change the living/working conditions at the factory. There's only so much that Apple can actually do (aside from bringing it stateside yet I doubt you want to pay at least double for the phone). To attack Apple isn't necessarily fair, HTC, Motorola and numerous, if not most all, cell phone and electronic manufacturers go through China and it's not really they're choice on how the factory itself is run.

@ Alex it's Apples iPhone so they have all the choice in the world where and under what conditions the iPhone is manufactured.

But how is it cheating the system if every other company is doing the same thing. In fact it's the exact opposite.

You'd think for the amount people have to pay for apple products they could at least be manufacture in countries with labor protection laws that are enforced.....

Puh-leeze. Apple could simply choose not to business with Foxconn. But of course, they won't -- they can demand others live up to codes Apple sets about "cheating the system," not to mention being a self-appointed morality censor, but heaven forfend Apple have to be moral or ethical in their own dealings.

You know if you do not like Apple's policies then do not buy there stuff. Whining about how they do business shows that YOU do not believe in the bile that you spew.
Apple can put any rules they like for THEIR App Store. You see when someone OWNS something they have the right to make rules that govern how their property (being store, house, or car) is used. They also have the right to carry or not carry your product. Basically what i am saying just because you are developing a product doesn't mean the store that may sell your product can't lay down grown rules that you follow or they don't carry your product.
As for Fox Con its not child labour its said to be under pay. Let me ask you something do you eat Chipotle?

You must own zero electronics if you have this attitude towards apple. You must really own nothing for the fact that pretty much anything you buy in America is made in these conditions. It sux but it's how things are.

@ Jimi, Wouldn't It would be cool if each iPhone came preloaded with a picture of the underage child on suicide watch @ Foxconn that assembled the phone you bought? You and otherApple users could all exchange pictures at Starbucks while sipping your "Crappuccino"

why are you on this website? the best way to protest those conditions is for YOU to buy all of YOUR goods that say "MADE IN AMERICA" and since the iPhone, iPad, and iPod are all made outside of the U.S. you should not be giving this website traffic either. Problem Solved.

Guess what - EVERY high profile and subsidised price electronic item is made in very similar conditions.
What do you have as a phone? Who made it? you think it was hand made by Jimmy John down in Texas at a cell phone plant? Where Jimmy John has a 4 figure salary, a yaht and a mansion?
No. Every electronic piece of equipment you own came from the same type of environment. Apple just happened to get extra publicity.
On that note, take a look back on the history of car makers and their factories. There were many reports of suicides JUST in that area.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it's right what these companies are doing, but you need to put it into perspective.
Everything you own has a blood trail on it. Your hands aren't clean. Don't act like you're a saint.

"A caution against advising users to reboot following an app install"? But that is needed to get a lot of the more resource intensive apps working. I just had to do it the other day to get Glee Karaoke to work. So Apple WANTS developers to get bad reviews saying their apps don't work, when all it would take to get it to function is a reboot?

Apps made properly thru the sdk are not needed to do a reboot. It's a precaution so apps don't do something their not supposed to do. Like alter functions not allowed by an app.

One major change today is that the App Store Review Guidelines used to be a public document. Now it's on a secure server only accessible to registered developers. So presumably it's now under NDA.

HAHAHA LOL Apple you big joke you put up these guide lines except ive seen a few apps that will look as if there 3 star or above rated except when you look at the actual reviews theres pages of 1 star reviews so theres now way the overall is 3 stars or more i know i cant be the only one seeing this anybody else seen garbage apps that appear the get 3 or more stars when all the reviewers give it one star and say its crap someone explain that please

That is true, the majority of people will rate an app without leaving a review. Always good to bear this in mind before purchasing an app.

"Websites bundled as apps are also a no-no"
The Commonwealth Bank in Australia needs to pick up it's game in that case! It's an app with a native menu with links to websites in safari, such as online banking!

Why? It violates no law. Selling content/products in/on a store is not a right. If I made a product today I could not just go to walmat and demand they carry my product.
Let me ask you something. Should apple sue costco because the retailer refuses to sell apple products to there customers due to apple giving competitors the iPad first. Why is it okay for Costco to boot apple from their stores for having their products in competing retailers?

You're forgetting the sinple fact that you own your phone, not Apple. The idea that they control what you can and can't do or place on your phone is absurd.

Really? You own a windows pc doesn't mean you can use programs made for linux. You own a ps3 doesn't mean you can buy xbox360 exclusive titles and run them on your ps3.
Apple does not have to provide an app store for you to buy apps. You don't even have to buy from the app store. You can jailbreak. Again you have an xbox and buy apps from xbox live store.
Just because you own hardware does not mean you have the right to tell the corporate store what it can carry. You don't like that stores policy jailbreak or buy android.

Oh and btw I own my 360z doesn't mean I can buy aftermarket parts and still keep my warranty. Also for any open source advocates still barkIng up the android tree.
How open is android when google and nokia couldn't come to agreement about the OS. Nokia want to modify key aspect of android to suit there needs and replace google maps with nav with Ovi maps. Obviously android is open if you use the OS in a way that allows google to profit.

Apple should pay to license podcaster from you, and build it into itunes. Your app is a significant over the native podcast behavior.

I have a 16GB wifi -2 right now. 16 GB is nearly half filled with app. The creative apps are storage hogs. If you want to use the 3rd gen iPad for anything creative, or holding, viewing, and sharing video, 16GB puts me constantly at the pain threshold in having to delete some of the more interesting apps that get my right brain moving.