Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Apple

Apple Reveals the Most Common Reasons That It Rejects Apps 132

Posted by timothy
from the too-fat-too-thin-too-talkative dept.
mrspoonsi writes One of the great mysteries of the App Store is why certain apps get rejected and why others don't. Apple has let a surprising number of ripoffs and clones through the store's iron gates, yet some developers face rejection for seemingly innocent apps. "Before you develop your app, it's important to become familiar with the technical, content, and design criteria that we use to review all apps," explains Apple on a new webpage called "Common App Rejections." Rejections include: Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected; Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations or use names or icons similar to other Apps will be rejected.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Reveals the Most Common Reasons That It Rejects Apps

Comments Filter:
  • by Galaga88 (148206) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @09:39AM (#47806249)

    There's not enough fingers in the world to count all the awful apps that violate most of Apple's so-called "standards."

    My favorite are the apps that have a string of words from other popular apps' names in them, just to muck up the search results. And they make sure to periodically change the icon to look like another app as well.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yeah it's bullshit.

      anyone in the business knows that they hardly test that it starts up without crashing and that's about it.

      logging in etc - too much trouble.

      • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:44AM (#47806887)

        yeah it's bullshit.

        anyone in the business knows that they hardly test that it starts up without crashing and that's about it.

        logging in etc - too much trouble.

        What they probably do, and I'm guessing here, is fire up an automatic UI testing tool that navigates through the app and clicks at stuff in order to provoke crashes and other bugs. In addition to that I would imagine they run the app description and the app icon through some sort machine learning system that tries to identify blatant ripoffs, re-submissions of apps that have been banned in the past, etc. Apps that don't pass these tests are looked at manually.

        Again, these are my guesses.

        They also do background checks on new App store accounts to try to tie them to people who have been banned for breaking their TOS.

        The bad app makers are of course one step ahead of this at any given point in time. It's not hard to think of ways of probing the system by using fake accounts.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          They actually do nothing, really.
          Especially when releasing updates, they usually approve it in 5 minutes or less.

          When I was upgrading one of my projects to the latest XCode, it didnt actually work and I had to manually edit the project root file.
          Due to this the upgrade was messed up and I compiled the final binary with the wrong flags.
          Note that the binary submitted to the store and the one you run in your test devices different, so I had no clue.
          The result was that it crashed instantly in any device
          • by rasmusbr (2186518)

            Hmm.

            Google play is down to about 30 minutes now between submitting the binary and updates beginning to roll out to users. You can do staged rollouts with stages of 0.5%, 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 50% and full rollout in order to detect major f-ups on your own part before they reach most users.

    • by edxwelch (600979)

      Yeah, there's a lot of garbage apps, for instance apps that just display a single jpeg and game engine demos that have been repackaged. These never get rejected. It's pretty obvious that Apple is using an automated app approval system

      • Nonsense. The existence of apps that you wouldn't have approved doesn't indicate that there weren't plenty more that were rejected.

        It's a fact that Apple has humans aided by scripts doing the reviewing. For example the reviewers sometimes catch bugs that developers never found.

        In fact this new page on Apple's Website indicates that amounts to 8% of rejections.

  • License (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @09:40AM (#47806273)

    Also if they're free as in freedom.

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:29PM (#47808033)

      Also if they're free as in freedom.

      With respect to he VLC media player ... Apple didn't care it was GPL, the developer was OK with the App Store, but a 3rd party threatened to sue Apple so Apple pulled the app.

      "The iOS VLC app was created by Applidium, a French mobile software company. In an Ars Technica interview, Applidium co-founder Romain Goyet said "The way I see it, we're not violating anyone's freedom. We worked for free, opened all our source code, and the app is available for free for anyone to download. People are enjoying a nice free and open source video player on the AppStore, and some people are trying to ruin it in the name of 'freedom.'" ... In a follow-up VideoLAN mailing list post, VideoLAN association president Jean-Baptiste Kempf wrote, "With 'friends' like you, we don't need any enemies. If I understand correctly, the FSF new policy is to blow up communities?""
      http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open... [zdnet.com]

      The FSF argues that Apple prohibits modifying and/or redistributing the app. That is a somewhat bogus argument. The binary is digitally signed, it won't run if modified or transferred to another device lacking the appropriate key. However the source code is available. A user is free to modify and distribute in terms of source code. They can submit their modified alternative binary to the app store. They can give a few friends binaries via ad hoc distribution. Yes, this costs money. The GPL doesn't prohibit things costing money, you can charge for distribution if you like and people are free to ignore your distribution and go to the source code. Nor does the GPL doesn't mandate a free developer environment.

      Its seems the FSF has far more to do with GPL apps not being on iOS than Apple.

      • the developer was OK with the App Store, but a 3rd party threatened to sue Apple so Apple pulled the app.

        This statement is bogus. 3rd parties cannot sue under copyright law. VLC is developed by multiple parties, some of whom wanted VLC in the app store & others who didn't.

        Portraying this as Apple & VLC vs the FSF is a misrepresentation of the situation.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Here is the problem

        Let A by GPL app as submitted. Apple adds a provisioning file / code to it for the version that is distributed, call it A+. Since A+ is a derived work of A it must be GPLed. Since Apple is distributing it they need to GPL A+. But the source for A+ requires Apple's key. think that's where the copyright violation the key not the version of the application created by Apple.

        BTW I'm a user of your app, replaced pcalc as my primary calculator. So thanks!.

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          BTW I'm a user of your app, replaced pcalc as my primary calculator. So thanks!.

          Thank you. Suggestions and criticisms via our support email address are always welcome. That is how products get better. Hearing what we did wrong is more useful than hearing about what we got right.

          • by jbolden (176878)

            Oh OK well if you want criticisms:

            Worksheets are too complex to use. The navigation isn't intuitive. First off worksheets should open in edit mode. The sample values in grey shouldn't be zeros but rather something like a valid sample calculation or the manual should have a walk through for each worksheet and when the user hits manual it goes to that page with a sample. I'm a pretty smart guy whose been using advanced calculators for a quarter century and I can't figure out how to use most of the works

            • by perpenso (1613749)

              Oh OK well if you want criticisms:

              Worksheets are too complex to use. The navigation isn't intuitive. First off worksheets should open in edit mode.

              Yeah, we've changed our minds about edit mode too.

              The sample values in grey shouldn't be zeros but rather something like a valid sample calculation or the manual should have a walk through for each worksheet and when the user hits manual it goes to that page with a sample.

              The built-in manual does have samples for the traditional UI, the buttons. Another set for worksheets makes sense, and an in-worksheet button that goes to the manual page is a great suggestion.

              I'm a pretty smart guy whose been using advanced calculators for a quarter century and I can't figure out how to use most of the worksheets.

              Thank you so much. This sort of feedback is great. Although we do apologize for our failing that made it necessary.

  • Manipulated by apple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tuppe666 (904118)

    Apple PR again. In light of good press from Microsoft and android simply having more apps. IOS is falling behind in both quality and quantity. Posted from a 5.5" phone

    • by Rosyna (80334) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @09:57AM (#47806435) Homepage

      Yup, good news from Microsoft about Quality App Stores [microsoft.com] that never reject clearly bogus apps.

    • Why stop at 5.5"? Wouldn't a 10, 20, or even 30" phone be more useful and impressive?
    • Ah, it's tupe666 again with his nonsensical Apple bashing. You might have had more of a reasonable argument if you hadn't brought up the Android and Microsoft stores in terms of quality.
  • Eh, not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hsmith (818216) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @09:44AM (#47806315)
    I've had an app in the store for years now that requires a login. We provide two to apple to test (one success one fail). I don't recall the last time the accounts logged in (perhaps version 1.0.0.0), their last login date has sat the same for years. So, not hard if you get in and sit there to slowly change to something malicious.
    • by Wootery (1087023)

      not hard if you get in and sit there to slowly change to something malicious.

      Compelling point; I've not seen this mentioned before.

    • Re:Eh, not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Assmasher (456699) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:34AM (#47806779) Journal

      Dooood, don't make them angry. I had a hard enough time getting the damn reviewer to actually use the login (Apple/Apple.)

      It was rejected TWICE in a row after 3 weeks of waiting because "it appears to require login account information" - despite a VERY clear explanation of how the app works and why you need to login and properly filling out the testing account entries in iTunesConnect, et cetera.

      I started to think they were employing monkeys over there.

      Just like you, every submission after the first acceptance - ZERO account activity on the apple demo account ;).

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have had the same experience. I have ALWAYS included login/demo account information and - no exaggeration - they have never successfully read the information that tells them how to log in. Always ends up something that I need to send them in a follow up.

        Once they used credentials from the review notes that I included in a completely different product!! It was like they tried to avoid the information that I provided for the app that was being reviewed.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          We had two different versions of our apps rejected for exactly that. iTunesConnect has boxes for username and password, but some of the reviewers just do whatever the hell they like then reject it. The first app rejected because we told them to use demouser@example.com as the username. Our mail app automatically fills in the @example.com on the screen as you type, so naturally after they failed it we looked in our logs and sure enough they had entered demouser@example.com@example.com.

          Later we submitted a

          • If a reviewer had difficulty getting the correct username in, then a typical user would too. It's an indication there was something wrong with your UI.

          • by Tablizer (95088)

            To be frank, I think I would fail that auto-type feature also. Shortcuts shouldn't interfere with long-cuts. People do things out of habit and you shouldn't add shortcuts to disrupt those habits. If they enter the full email URL, then the auto-appended part should be parsed off internally, or better yet: automatically disappear once "@" is keyed.

            K.I.S.S. often overrides saving keystrokes when dealing with wide or unknown audience.

      • by Zynder (2773551)
        Do I want to know exactly what kind of app the user "Assmasher" is uploading to iTunes?


        Yeah, of course I do!
    • That's interesting. They always log on to ours.
  • All about the brand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @09:44AM (#47806317)
    I have dealt with App Store rejections on various projects, and it was quite a culture shock coming from the desktop development world. In many ways it reminded me of college. Giving the right answer is not important per se, but rather just providing the answer you know the professor/grader wants to hear. As a programmer, it rankles me for someone else to dictate major issues of app architecture that touch on quality in a debatable way.

    But it's their way or the highway if you want to sell to iOS users. And yes, you do want to sell to iOS users. Android users never spend any money. /slight-exaggeration
    • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:21AM (#47806639) Homepage Journal

      But it's their way or the highway if you want to sell to iOS users. And yes, you do want to sell to iOS users. Android users never spend any money. /slight-exaggeration

      So to whom should one sell, say, an app for monitoring a wireless network or a video game in a historical fiction setting? Apple provides no public API for enumerating nearby SSIDs, and under Guidelines 15.3 [apple.com], Apple would reject games whose "enemies" are a particular organization (such as soldiers in a particular country's army).

    • by Theovon (109752)

      I don't know what your professors were like, but I instruct my graders to (a) do the assignment themselves for an objective set of answers (to later compare to mine) and (b) look for common "wrong" anwers and evaluate them carefully. For (b) there are three reasons why we might mark correct a "wrong" answer. One is that I just screwed up my work. Another is that I screwed up the question. And another is that I may have given a misleading explanation that lead students commonly produce a wrong answer. W

      • Certainly it would be unfair of me to say that all of my professors had a stilted and artificially narrow grading process. Some of them were very much as you describe and no doubt put a lot of effort into doing it right. Cheers!
    • I had the same experience.

      I get the feeling that they're inundated with apps, and they have a minimum-wage staff that's probably working in some outsourced Pune office, and they just follow the guidelines, literally. They go down a check list - and the guidelines are more specific than what they're posting here - if it passes, it passes. If it's not on the checklist, they don't care.

      So it's not about 'good design' - since that's subjective, and that's hard to write a spec to - or to outsource. Instead, i

  • High bar? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Such a subjective phrase. Looking at the App Store I doubt they even begin to comprehend its meaning. For every semi decent app there are a few thousand absolute shites copying the function. For every blockbuster app there's a few million trying to be it.

    Absolute rubbish.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is this, amateur hour? Why does Slashdot constantly rehash the "reasons Apple rejects apps" topic? They've published detailed guidelines on this for years. If you're developing for iOS, read them.

    • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:13AM (#47806559) Homepage Journal

      Why does Slashdot constantly rehash the "reasons Apple rejects apps" topic?

      To help certain iOS fans who frequent Slashdot (BB, SK, etc.) understand why not all apps are ported to iOS and why some people choose devices that run something other than iOS. The featured article states that most applications that Apple rejects are broken in some important way. But conspicuous by omission are apps that aren't broken but which Apple rejects for other reasons.

      They've published detailed guidelines on this for years.

      Only very recently (a few months ago [slashdot.org]) has Apple made the guidelines [apple.com] available to the public. Previously you had to sign up for the paid iOS Developer Program just to see them. That hurt people who bought a Mac and an iOS device to start developing, only to learn that the application's concept was in a category of applications that Apple completely rejects [pineight.com]. That's entire sections of the market that Apple has made a business decision to decline to serve.

      • If the reason you purchased an iDevice and subsequent developer account is to develop apps that subsequently end up violating the developer guidelines, then one is either misguided or overly wealthy (or both). There is nothing preventing a developer from creating an OSX or iOS application that goes outside the guidelines provided they don't with to sell within the walled garden. But, if you want to sell to users using the app store, you are subject to their requirements.

        OSX and iOS devices are intended t

        • There is nothing preventing a developer from creating an OSX or iOS application that goes outside the guidelines provided they don't with to sell within the walled garden. But, if you want to sell to users using the app store, you are subject to their requirements.

          This is true of OS X but not of iOS, because OS X has sideloading and iOS does not. There are exactly three ways to get an app installed on an iOS device. The first and most common is Apple's App Store. The second is being an employee of an established company that is a paying member of the iOS Developer Enterprise Program or a student of an accredited university that is a member of the iOS Developer University Program; such organizations are allowed to run their own App Stores. The third is to be a paying

      • by meerling (1487879)
        Don't forget there have been devs totally freaked out for having followed all the "guidelines" that apple would tell them about, then still be refused multiple times because it "violated their guidelines", and apple refusing to even tell them what guideline was even violated.

        Me personally, I suspect that they have a listmonkey do the preliminary check, then another monkey throws a dart.
      • by vux984 (928602)

        Completely tangential...

        The link you gave, to your site, contains "Disproof of Turing completeness"

        However, the process of Pick-a-Winner is equivalent to Russian roulette. As stated above, Apple Inc. refuses to digitally sign a program implementing the rules of Russian roulette. But any universal Turing machine can run Pick-a-Winner. Therefore, a machine that refuses to execute a program that Apple has not signed cannot be Turing complete because Pick-a-Winner is excluded from programs that it can run. This makes an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad without a developer license or jailbreak not a general-purpose computer, QED.

        That's a joke right?

        I mean first up, you don't have any actual evidence that "pick-a-winner" would even be rejected. The prohibition on Russian Roulette is clearly a prohibition on the "suicide game".

        For example, there are plenty of minigames on the Wii that are mechanically equivalent to Russian roulette. Where players take turns, doing something (cutting a rope in a tangled knot for example) which is essenti

      • by Zynder (2773551)
        I read your pineight link. Curiously, what is the point of the bottom section discussing whether ithingys are Turing complete or not? It seems like that page is part of an argument from some other subject on a page that we did not get to read.
        • by tepples (727027)

          It seems like that page is part of an argument from some other subject on a page that we did not get to read.

          The Turing completeness disproof is actually related to recurring debates on Slashdot over the definition of phrases like "personal computer" and "general-purpose computer". I say something is a "personal computer" when the person who owns it determines what computing is done on it, and it's not "general-purpose" if specific identifiable purposes are forbidden. This includes a device running Android because of "Unknown sources" and adb install, but not a device running iOS without paying the recurring fee f

    • by Wootery (1087023)

      They've published detailed guidelines on this for years

      Yes. What's new is the Most Common part.

    • If you actually HAD to follow every single guidelines, the app store would have almost nothing on it.
      I recently submitted a book to the iBook store, and we were worried because it blatantly broke a few of the rules. We were going to correct them but thought, eh let's just submit it and will fix it if it gets rejected. Well it got rejected, but for an entirely different reason (some broken links that we didn't even know existed). Fixed those, resubmitted, and was approved.

  • Apple obviously does not deeply review each and every entry. Many of the apps would hardly even stand up to a glance. So how can they arbitrarily say that an interface is too complex if they do not even spend the time to learn anything about the app.
    • If you have to learn anything about the app, the interface is to complex.
      I on my part just delete those apps, I don't care how they came into the app store.

      • by tepples (727027)

        If you have to learn anything about the app, the interface is to complex.

        So in a Chess app, how would you expect the user learn what each piece can do?

        • Chess is not compliant with the Apple User Policy 4.3.6:

          Thou shalt assume that the user is a dumb fuck.

        • Why would someone who can not play chess download a chess app?
          And: for that you have the help section. Or you simply try it, as a decent chess app only allows valid moves :)
          Point is: a chess app that needs a menu or buttons or input fields to move the pieces is a fail.

          • by tepples (727027)

            Why would someone who can not play chess download a chess app?

            Why would anyone try a game for the first time?

            If you have to learn anything about the app, the interface is to complex.

            for that you have the help section.

            The help activity is still "learn[ing] anything about the app".

  • Does that include protecting your cloud apps with basic security so that pics of Jennifer Lawrence's pussy don't get leaked?

    • thankfully, no.
    • by clifyt (11768)

      If you set your luggage combination to 1234, the same as your bank pin, don't be angry when someone figures it out.

      That said, I have shitty passwords for a lot of services I don't care about. My flikr account was like a 5 letter password that I shared with friends. I, however, didn't care if someone saw my peen because after my yearly camping trip with my friends, it is usually the most reported item on our facebooks (only embarrassing when the head of your department comments on it).

  • Sometimes it's ok for me it the UI of an app it's not so great as long as it does the job which i need to be done right now. (e.g. importing/converting files formats, unusual calculations etc....)

  • No right answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blueshift_1 (3692407) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:11AM (#47806537)
    I feel like this is basically the same issue as the "Displaying Top Apps" discussion from a while back. There's no great way or perfect rule to solve the issue. You somehow need to make it flexible enough to be able to work for every possible kind of app, but also strict enough to keep out the riff raff. You have to make some kind of judgement to help the user and the developer both... which at some point will annoy both parties. In my experience, it works well enough. Sure it could be better (and also worse), but it seems to do the job well enough.I just feel like by making them stricter it'd have plenty of seen and unforseen consequences.
  • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:19AM (#47806617)

    or only applies to a small niche market, it may not be approved

    I've got android apps with only 5-10k downloads, but they fit my needs. One is Fulio Pro [google.com], a nice little application for tracking fuel usage and car expenses, the developer has been very open to enhancement requests and quick to respond on bug tickets. The guy certainly hasn't gotten rich at $10-20k in earnings from the paid app, but he's got some income and I have a useful application.

    • Instead of putting an application in the App Store, a developer could usually create the application as a web application using Safari JavaScript. Web apps can even run offline now if needed.
    • I'm not sure that 5,000 downloads for an application that tracks fuel usage would be a "niche app" that Apple would reject. I think it's more like, if you released an app that was dedicated to the purpose of surveying Siberian tiger-moles for the purposes of determining fur growth and moulting during the leap-years, specifically in attempting to correlate growth to the frequency of solar flares, Apple might go, "Yeah, that could be a great app, but we don't see the point of putting it up in our store."

      I t

    • There are probably 10-20 applications in the Apple App Store that do fuel/vehicle expense tracking.

      I don't think you are understanding what a niche really means...

      There are also many, many applications that have received under 100 downloads so it's not like 5-10k is anywhere near a small amount they would reject.

    • Well, he could always use a third-party app-sto......oh wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Most of the apps I have seen get rejected are due to the developers not reading the agreement they clicked through on their way to paying the $99 to publish their app. They develop something before they find out what is verboten and then get upset when the app gets rejected. I have been developing apps for the App Store since 2009 and have yet to get one rejected, for any reason. All the stories I hear are from devs that thought they could do whatever they wanted, use any API and get their app through. That

  • Talk about ugly as f***...

  • If your app doesn’t offer much functionality or content, or only applies to a small niche market, it may not be approved.

    Not long ago Apple used to be niche market.

  • So that sort of undermines their credibility in judging other people's work on the basis of usability, doesn't it? Also, the App store search is essentially broken. They should get their own house in order.
  • They forgot to mention the rejections due to the App Store reviewer having had an argument with his SO that morning, or had a lousy breakfast, or sat in a traffic jam, or ...
  • by PPH (736903)

    I figured once this made it in, it was pretty much 'anything goes'.

  • by resfilter (960880) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:48AM (#47807517)

    i have to hand apple one thing, about their walled garden. although i have some cool android apps on my phone, my wife's iphone is much more of a pleasure to use.

    why? because, for example, there are ten thousand friggn' notepad apps for android, and i'm too lazy to find one that look like the rest of the android interface, so after browsing through a dozen, i just picked one...

    click her notepad app, and it looks like im just smoothly entering another part of the iphone experience... ... click mine, and i'm launched into an ugly frenzy of badly placed wrongly colored controls etc with entry fields that behave strangely, and buttons with icons that i don't recognize.

    when you have 1000 developers making 1000 apps that do the same thing, the only difference being how the ui looks, and none of them even match the rest of the operating system, you fucked up your operating system. that's android for you. nobody even knows what an android app is really supposed to look like anymore, and developers don't care, they're just off in their own little world with no taste in design.

    graphical operating systems need fairly strict ui design conventions. period. they need to be breakable, but encouraged very strongly to the point of where breaking them for no reason makes your app seen as a peice of junk. this is apple's only real advantage in locking out outside apps, being able to blacklist ugly things.

    i appluade them for attempting to force that kind of consistency on their device, not that it always works... no solution is 100%.

    not that i'd buy an iphone myself, and you don't have to either. just sayin'.

    • "graphical operating systems need fairly strict ui design conventions. period. they need to be breakable, but encouraged very strongly to the point of where breaking them for no reason makes your app seen as a peice of junk."

      Tell that to the oem and anti-virus MSWindows software engineers.

    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      graphical operating systems need fairly strict ui design conventions. period. they need to be breakable, but encouraged very strongly to the point of where breaking them for no reason makes your app seen as a peice of junk. this is apple's only real advantage in locking out outside apps, being able to blacklist ugly things.

      You mean something like this [android.com]?

      • You mean something like this?

        No, I think he means something that is actually followed... and possibly enforced.

        As a rule, if you say "but there is a standard; let me link to the documentation" there isn't a standard.

    • Having a consistent interface is nice.

      But what good is it when it doesn't do what you need it or want it to do? If you are an app developer, a software platform vendor, or hardware manufacturer, I don't care about your business model or how you plan to put me into a corner where I have to use your product -- and then use it only in ways which you prefer. In fact, the more you disable features and interoperability with other systems in the name of usability, the more I will avoid your product. I want a devic

  • Of course apps are also rejected because they don't meet the arbitrary standards of puritanism that Apple applies, or allow the user to purchase content that doesn't meet those standards. Such as digital comics containing male nudity. [boingboing.net]

  • Because fuck you, that's why.

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. -- N. Alexander.

Working...