app store submission guidelines

Greetings from the land of App Store submission preparation, where all the fields are grey and marked with asterisks. 

26,000 apps are submitted to the App Store each week. Per Tim Cook,  around 30% of them are rejected "for failure to meet developer guidelines."  

30% is kind of a high number, but when you consider some of the apps that do make it in, you could draw the conclusion that the bar isn't all that high. Likely, it's higher for some types of apps, eg ones that hold sensitive information and allow in-app purchases; ditto for unoriginal apps. Our app is an email app, which is not original, but the visual classification it performs on emails is original, so we're hoping we make it over the originality bar. 

But those are just a couple of the most reasonable bars! There are many others, some reasonable, some rather follow-the-golden-path-and-only-that-path. You can read them in full (and if you're thinking about submitting an app, I suggest you do), but I've pulled out a few of my favorites below. 

On badges: 

  • If the badge appears with badges that represent other platforms, place the App Store badge first.
  • Do not animate, rotate, or tilt the App Store badge.

On featuring Apple products:

  • Do not substitute white Apple products for the black product images provided by Apple.
  • Do not use Apple product images along with images of competitive products in your communications.
  • Do not display an Apple product on a cluttered background.
  • Do not use Apple product images on any disposable packaging or food industry promotions.


On using custom photography and video:

  • If the status bar is clearly visible, make sure that the battery and Wi-Fi icons are full. 
  • Do not engage in “suspension of disbelief” by showing Apple products or your app in a fantastic or unrealistic manner. Do not show products engaging in actions they are not capable of performing, such as flying through the air or swimming underwater.


On submission:

  • 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.
  • Apps that duplicate Apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them, such as fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra Apps. 
  • 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.* 
  • Professional political satirists and humorists are exempt from the ban on offensive or mean‐ spirited commentary 


On promotion:

  • Apple product names can appear in copy along with the names of other mobile or computing devices. List Apple products first. 
  • Do not use at the App Store. Always use on the App Store or from the App Store.
  • Apple does not approve the use of iPhone and iPad as awards in contests and sweepstakes, or as prizes and giveaways.**
  • Do not use the term downloadable

*I like this rule,  but man if it isn't a rule in name only