Apple has announced new updates to its App Store Review Guidelines. These guidelines outline what is acceptable or non-acceptable for apps in terms of features, privacy protection, parental controls, legal, design, customer safety, and so on. As a code of conduct, these guidelines are expected to be followed by developers who create apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac.
The new updates to the guidelines provide clarification on features that are going to ship with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey, and tvOS 15. These software updates were announced during the WWDC 2021 keynote and will release to all customers this Fall.
App Store Review Guidelines updates
Here is the list of additions and updates to the App Store Review Guidelines as of June 7, 2021:
- 1.1.4: “Hookup” apps that may include pornography or be used to facilitate prostitution will be rejected.
- 1.2.1: Added new guideline for creator content.
- 1.4.3 and 5.1.1(ix): Addressed in-app sales from licensed and legal cannabis dispensaries.
- 1.7: Apps for reporting alleged criminal activity must involve local law enforcement, and can only be offered in countries where such involvement is active.
- 2.3.1: Clarified that misleading marketing, whether it takes place inside or outside of the App Store, is grounds for removal from the App Store and the Apple Developer Program.
- 2.3.10: Simplified the rule on irrelevant information in app metadata.
- 3.1.1: Clarified that digital gift cards can only be sold using in-app purchase, and that physical gift cards that are sold within an app and then mailed to customers may use payment methods other than in-app purchase.
- 3.1.2(a): Expanded the guideline that allows cellular carrier apps to include music and video subscriptions in pre-defined bundles attached to data plans to clarify that carrier apps can include other kinds of subscriptions, so long as in-app purchase is supported for new users and the carrier provides a mechanism for customers to revert to an in-app purchase subscription after the bundled service expires or terminates.
- 3.1.3: Clarified the email communication policy for apps that are permitted to use purchase methods other than in-app purchase.
- 4.2: Clarified that apps that do not provide adequate utility may not be accepted on the App Store.
- 4.3: Added drinking game apps as a saturated category.
- 4.7: Reformatted by adding 4.7.1 and 4.7.2 for clarity.
- 5.1.1(v): Apps supporting account creation must also offer account deletion.
- 5.6 and 5.6.1 – 5.6.4: Expanded the Developer Code of Conduct to address additional developer trust and safety issues. New rules in this section require developer identity information to be accurate and up to date; make clear that manipulating any element of the App Store experience such as reviews and charts is not permitted; and that excessive customer reports about concerns with an app may be a factor in deciding whether the developer is complying with the Code of Conduct.
Along with these updates, Apple has also made two updates to the App Review contact form. Developers can now appeal an app rejection by specifying whether the app was rejected due to unfair treatment, such as political or other bias. Customers can also report an app if they feel it presents trust or safety concerns.