9/10/2010

Apple Reveal App Store Guidelines and Relax Third-Party Restrictions

Since the iPhone launched the App Store has been shrouded in mystery, there have been many tales of developers having Apps rejected for seemingly no reason at all whilst some questionable submissions have made it through the net. Part of the mystery is down to the fact that Apple have never really made it clear what is and isn’t allowed and this has led to a lot of frustration from developers who spend months working on an app, only to see Apple refuse it during the review process.

Add to this the fact that Apple previously outlawed third-party development tools (leading to a very public falling out with Adobe over the use of Flash to create iPhone apps) and the app store was left a very precarious place for developers to rely on for marketing their products.

Apple have now made things a lot clearer though and laid down the law on what is and isn’t acceptable in the App Store. It has long fascinated the Compare and Recycle team how Apple’s review process works and it is very interesting to see some of the rules and guidelines they use. They include guidelines such as no more ‘fart apps’ being considered, apps being of a sufficient quality so as not to appear amateurish and advising not to bad mouth Apple in the press if your app is refused since it won’t help your cause.

Some of the key rules include:

  • No apps relating to illegal file sharing are allowed.
  • Apps containing pornographic content will not be accepted nor will apps that frequently contain user generated pornographic content.
  • More expensive apps will be reviewed more thoroughly.
  • No alternative home screens are allowed.
  • Trying to be too similar to Apple products is definitely off limits, trying to be too similar to an Apple app, using similar or misspelt names of Apple products and mimicking the iPod interface are not allowed.
  • Apps that duplicate existing apps will be rejected, the more similar apps available means a higher the chance of rejection.
  • Hidden or undocumented features will result in rejection, so you can’t sneak apps into the store by hiding them inside a more Apple-friendly app.
  • Apps that include web browsing capabilities must be based around the WebKit framework, which makes rival browsers such as Firefox on iPhone seem even more unlikely than before.

It’s good news for developers who will now be much clearer on what they can and cannot do (although many of the guidelines had already been assumed as a result of prior rejections). Apple have also decided to relax restrictions on third-party tools for development which means that Adobe’s iOS Flash SDK, released as part of their CS5 Suite is back in development and could enable thousands of new developers to start work on apps based on their existing knowledge of Flash.

Part of the reasoning behind relaxing third-party restrictions may be down to Epic’s Unreal 3 Engine for iOS, which could potentially be used to create some of the most impressive games seen on hand held devices. The engine could prove key in Apple’s quest for domination of the portable gaming market as higher quality games can be produced in a shorter period of time. Until the announcement of the relaxation it seemed unclear whether it fell foul of Apple’s own rules on third-party tools, and it may have been the fact that their stance on third-party development tools could actually damage the potential success of the iPhone which caused them to change their minds.

The clarification could lead to more developers becoming more willing to create apps for the App Store and may just increase Apple’s reputation with those who call for more openness on the iPhone and other Apple devices.

Lee

Lee

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