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In addition to relaxing restrictions on app development for its mobile operating system, Apple also announced today that it would publish its App Store Review Guidelines so that developers know what goes into reviewing their apps. We’ve embedded the guidelines below in PDF form, along with some highlights.

In the introduction to the guidelines, Apple makes it clear how it views app curation: “If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app.” The company says it views apps differently than books or songs, which it doesn’t curate.

Apple’s generic guidelines in the introduction aren’t entirely surprising. Some gems include:

  • “We have lots of kids downloading lots of apps, and parental controls don’t work unless the parents set them up (many don’t). So know that we’re keeping an eye out for the kids.”
  • “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.” [Emphasis mine]
  • “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.”
  • “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 document then moves on to more specific rules, including:

  • “In general, the more expensive your app, the more thoroughly we will review it.”
  • “Multitasking apps may only use background services for their intended purposes: VoIP, audio playback, location, task completion, local notifications, etc”
  • “Apps that misspell Apple product names in their app name (i.e., GPS for Iphone, iTunz) will be rejected.”
  • “Apps containing pornographic material, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings”, will be rejected.”

You can read the rest of the rules below. Altogether, there’s nothing too surprising here. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is keen on continuing his battle against pornography and making the App Store accessible to kids. But it’s notable that Apple has finally put its rules in print. Now developers have something to pay attention to when making their apps, and Apple can easily point to this document whenever an app gets rejected.

App Store Guidelines

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