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Thursday, September 09, 2010, 07:50 am PT (10:50 am ET)

Inside Apple's App Store Review Guidelines: 'We don't need anymore Fart apps'

Apple's newly published guidelines for the App Store review process provide a candid, plainly written summary of the company's policies on iOS software, including the blunt statement in the introduction: "We don't need anymore Fart apps."

As promised, on Thursday Apple published its App Store Review Guidelines, a document that details what is and is not acceptable for App Store software. It covers a number of topics, including the functionality of software, use of features such as push notifications and location services, and integration of Apple-controlled programs like Game Center and iAds.

In its opening introduction, the document makes clear the "broader themes" that Apple uses in reviewing App Store submissions. The company clearly stated that it is concerned about children having access to inappropriate applications, and is also interested in keeping the quality of software at a certain level.

"We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store," the document reads. "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."

Apple described its guidelines as a "living document," something that will evolve over time as the company is "presented with new apps and situations." It promised to continually update the guidelines to reflect changes.

But the company also reserved the right to decide what content is considered "over the line" without clearly spelling it out in the guidelines.

"What line, you ask?" it reads. "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 see it."

The introduction concludes with the statement that people at Apple "love this stuff too" honor what their developers do, but at the same time the company is attempting to create the "best platform in the world," all while allowing developers to make a living.

"If it sounds like we're control freaks, well, maybe it's because we're so committed to our users and making sure they have a quality experience with our products," it reads. "Just like almost all of you are too."

The table of contents includes 22 sections, ranging from metadata to user interface to violence and pornography. Many of the requirements have already been clearly established, including the fact that applications cannot crash or have serious bugs.

Guidelines


Some rules of note in the guidelines:

User interface:
  • Apps that create alternate desktop/home screen environments or simulate multi-app widget experiences will be rejected

  • Apps that alter the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, will be rejected

  • Apps that look similar to apps bundled on the iPhone, including the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstore, will be rejected


Content:
  • Apps that are simply web clippings, content aggregators, or a collection of links, may be rejected

  • "Enemies" within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity

  • Apps that include games of Russian roulette will be rejected

  • Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic (ex "Chat Roulette" apps) 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

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

  • Apps that are not very useful or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected

  • Apps may contain or quote religious text provided the quotes or translations are accurate and not misleading. Commentary should be educational or informative rather than inflammatory

  • Apps that misspell Apple product names in their app name (i.e., GPS for Iphone, iTunz) will be rejected

Bandwidth:
  • Audio streaming content over a cellular network may not use more than 5MB over 5 minutes

  • Video streaming content over a cellular network longer than 10 minutes must use HTTP Live Streaming and include a baseline 64 kbps audio-only HTTP Live stream

  • Apps that excessively use the network capacity or bandwidth of the APN service or unduly burden a device with Push Notifications will be rejected

Privacy:
  • Apps that do not notify and obtain user consent before collecting, transmitting, or using location data will be rejected

  • Apps cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the user's prior permission and providing the user with access to information about how and where the data will be used

  • Apps that require users to share personal information, such as email address and date of birth, in order to function will be rejected

  • Apps that target minors for data collection will be rejected

After laying out the rules of what can't be done, the guidelines end on a more personal note, with some helpful advice for developers:

"Thank you for developing iOS," it reads. "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."

To review the document in full, see the App Store Review Guidelines - App Store Resource Center PDF.