App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple is being sued for rejecting a COVID-19 app from the App Store.
  • The company behind the app claims Apple wanted a monopoly over the contact tracing market.

As reported by AppleInsider, Apple is being sued by an app developer who claims that its app was rejected from being admitted to the App Store in order for Apple to maintain a monopoly on its COVID-19 exposure notification technology.

The app, called Coronavirus Reporter, was reportedly built by healthcare and computer science experts with the goal to "capture and obtain critical biostatistical and epidemiological data as it happened."

The lawsuit, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the New Hampshire District on Tuesday, centers on a smartphone application called "Coronavirus Reporter" that was denied entry to the App Store in March 2020. Coronavirus Reporter, the lawsuit claims, was developed by a team of healthcare and computer science experts in February 2020 to "capture and obtain critical biostatistical and epidemiological data as it happened."

When the team submitted the app, it was originally rejected. After an appeal that lasted 20 days, Apple reaffirmed its rejection of the app due to its not being backed by a recognized healthcare entity and its "user-generated data has not been vetted for accuracy by a reputable source."

When coronavirus apps began hitting Apple's App Review team, the company made a decision that apps would have to meet additional requirements in order to be approved for admission to the App Store.

The tech giant in an announcement posted to its developer website in mid-March last year noted its commitment to making the App Store a "safe and trusted place," saying it was evaluating coronavirus-related apps "critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions." It also recognized the time-sensitive nature of publishing said apps and made accommodations to expedite the review process.

Apple ultimately decided that Coronavirus Reporter did not meet those requirements, which has resulted in the lawsuit.