Apple posts App Review Guidelines for developers – If it sounds like we’re control freaks…

Ever since the grand opening of the App Store one of the most controversial topics around has been the Apple App Review process. With the iPhone Developer program only a Mac and $99 away, this bustling market has immediately become the proving ground for large corporations and indie teams alike. And some of them eventually ran into the dreaded rejection of the result of their sweat and blood, often made much worse since the reason for it was impossible to foresee.

Well, a little over 2 years and many many scandals later, Apple has finally decided to streamline the process and publish a clear and concise list of things that are sure to have your app rejected, should you violate them. You can check out the current list here or check under the gap for some of my personal favourite quotes with my comments to Apple.  And remember “It is a living document that will evolve as we are presented with new apps and situations, and we’ll update it periodically to reflect these changes.”

Some memorable points can be found right in the introduction:

We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted.

OMG, finally, no more Fart apps! Anyway, moving on:

If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.

Have they really been looking at the apps? If this rule is really enforced, I have problems with about 80% of the App Store right of the bat.

We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.

Right… Time to start saving up for those mind-reading courses. But seriously, I think most people have about the same understanding about “over the line”, so we’ll leave it at that.

If your app is rejected, we have a Review Board that you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps.

The press did eventually lead you to publishing these guidelines though. Just saying… Moving on to Functionality:

Apps that are “beta”, “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected

No more lite versions then? They are all demos in essence!

Apps that duplicate apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them

Developers “spamming” the App Store with many versions of similar apps will be removed from the iOS Developer Program

No more 30+ Mafia Wars apps? Thank god! Watch out Zynga! The following couple of sections deal with no-nonsense recommendations and I don’t quite understand the point of actually writing them out. Oh, here’s a nice one regarding Push:

Apps cannot charge users for use of Push Notifications

Now this is plain weird – I’ve seen more than a few apps where Push is a “premium” function and is unlocked via iAP. Probably I’m not understanding it correctly again…

The rest of the document lays out some more rules, the developers must adhere to and are blunt and probably useful to some, though to me most seem quite obvious. And I can’t help but finish with the quote from the end of the document:

This document represents our best efforts to share how we review apps submitted to the App Store, and we hope it is a helpful guide as you develop and submit your apps. It is a living document that will evolve as we are presented with new apps and situations, and we’ll update it periodically to reflect these changes.

Thank you for developing for iOS. Even though this document is a formidable list of what not to do, please also keep in mind the much shorter list of what you must do. Above all else, join us in trying to surprise and delight users. Show them their world in innovative ways, and let them interact with it like never before. In our experience, users really respond to polish, both in functionality and user interface. Go the extra mile. Give them more than they expect. And take them places where they have never been before. We are ready to help.

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