Apple’s App “we play by no rules” Review

Let’s be honest, Apple and I have a rocky relationship. They set the rules we have to follow and we do just that. Sometimes even their own rules are not enough, which is when they start venturing off the beaten path and reject/remove apps by over-extending the meaning of existing rules. They can do that; it’s their store.

My problem is the consistency at which they follow their own rules. GV Mobile + 3 is nearing launch, and with that, more headaches by the Review team; 2009 all over again. It all revolves around 11.13, “Apps that link to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the App, such as a “buy” button that goes to a web site to purchase a digital book, will be rejected”. This was a hot topic a couple years ago when Amazon had to remove links from their iOS app that linked to their site to buy books without going through Apple. Fair enough – Apple wants to keep 30% of revenue generated through apps on its Store.

I’ll admit, I goofed up and had a link within GV Mobile + 3 to “top off” your Google Voice credits (buy more). So I understood the first rejection…almost. Here is where the consistency (and even the over-extending of rules) comes into play. Like in many apps (so, so many), and even version 2 of GV Mobile +, I have a textual link for those that don’t have a Google Account. You click the link in the app and it takes you to the Google Account creation website. Harmless enough? Wrong. I’m apparently in violation of 11.13. Apple says that with that link, one could also go on to purchase things (using Google Wallet to buy things). I’m curious how many extra steps are required to actually purchase something after initially creating a Google account…I’m betting it’s many. After the app got rejected a second time for the same “create account” link (first time I thought they were confused, naturally), I got in contact with Apple.

The solution, according to Apple, is to either A) remove the damn link or B) use words to describe the action to be taken, with no link (i.e “If you need an account, go to X website” where X is not a URL). I chose option B just to appease them, but the battle is not over. You see, there are too many high profile apps out there (and thousand little guys, me included) that include this “problem” account creation link. To name a few, the Google + app has the link right when you start it (new user), every app that uses Google’s OAuth login (i.e G+, Hangouts, Gmail, Google Search, etc.), every app that allows you to share stuff on Google+ (Tech Crunch app, etc). I really don’t expect Apple to catch some of the unapparent ones – some can be inadvertently hidden (i.e Google + sharing in Tech Crunch). It’s the ones that are in your face, like how I had it in GV Mobile + 3, like in the Google + and Google Hangout apps…these are the ones that have me worried.

G+Hangouts

How can Apple miss these? I can understand if these came through as an update, but they didn’t. And of all people, you would figure Google would be scrutinized the most.

So, Apple, what IS going on here? Apparently my name dropping has spurred an investigation in said apps (including GV Mobile + v2). I’ll be keeping a close eye on the apps mentioned and the fate of their offending links.

With that said, I will say developing for iOS is very rewarding, even though their rules and how they enforce them are sketchy at best.

Shoemaker, you are the man. Make this right.

One thought on “Apple’s App “we play by no rules” Review

  1. wow – thanks for giving a taste of what the review process is like. I had no idea there was such a book of “rules” – I thought it was just a process to weed out malicious apps!

    of course depending on whether you “do no evil” probably dictates whether you can embed that link 😉

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