September 2, 2014 Last Updated 8:01 am

Apple releases first list of top ten reasons it rejected apps last week

App Store team gives TNM less than helpful response to request for information concerning pre-qualifying readers inside B2B magazine Newsstand apps

Apple’s developer site has been giving developers an estimate of the number of days they can expect to wait to hear if their new or updated app has been approved. Now Apple has, for the first time, listed the top ten reasons of app rejections. The new feature looks like it will be a regularly appearing rundown.

Apple says its number one reason it rejected apps during the week ending August 28 was that Apple needed more information on the app – 14 percent of those apps rejected were not approved for that reason. Another 8 percent were rejected for bugs.

Here is Apple’s top ten reasons for app rejections:

  • 14% – More information needed
  • 8% – Guideline 2.2: Apps that exhibit bugs will be rejected
  • 6% – Did not comply with terms in the Developer Program License Agreement
  • 6% – Guideline 10.6: 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
  • 5% – Guideline 3.3: Apps with names, descriptions, or screenshots not relevant to the App content and functionality will be rejected
  • 5% – Guideline 22.2: Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations or use names or icons similar to other Apps will be rejected
  • 4% – Guideline 3.4: App names in iTunes Connect and as displayed on a device should be similar, so as not to cause confusion
  • 4% – Guideline 3.2: Apps with placeholder text will be rejected
  • 3% – Guideline 3.8: Developers are responsible for assigning appropriate ratings to their Apps. Inappropriate ratings may be changed/deleted by Apple
  • 2% – Guideline 2.9: Apps that are “beta”, “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected

Apple has plenty of other reasons to reject apps as these top ten accounted for only 58 percent of rejections.

But while Apple continues to point to its developer guidelines documents to guide developers, the fact is that those guidelines are vague and often not adhered to by Apple itself. For instance, there is a section on pornography used to reject apps from U.S. magazine publishers that is being ignored for apps originating from Russia.

RR-cardThen there is the issue of what B2B magazines can do to pre-qualify readers inside their Newsstand apps. Can a publisher, for instance, include a reader response card at the opening of their app that requests information from the reader to see if they qualify to receive the digital issues free of charge? Can they request name, email address, occupation as they would on a subscription card they would include in their print magazine?

TNM contacted both Apple’s developer support team and App Store review team about this issue. Asked whether a it was permissible for a publisher to include a qualification questionnaire inside their magazine apps, the developer support team said they had no information to convey but that I should contact the App Store team.

Unfortunately, Apple’s App Store team can not be contacted directly but only via email. TNM did hear back within 24 hours, however, though the response was hardly helpful:

“While we cannot provide feedback on Guideline compliance questions, we can recommend resources that may help you determine if you build in a “qualification” mechanism into a Newsstand app and will it be in compliance. We encourage you to consider the guidance in these resources, as well as the intentions of each guideline and requirement and how they contribute to providing a great experience for your users.”

Apple may keep its guidelines vague intentionally in order to reject apps that it recognizes are flawed, or a scam, but it is just as likely that Apple has no clue as to the needs of trade publishers and continues to simply wing it, rejecting or approving apps on a case by case basis.

At this point, the only advice one can give a publisher would be to build the app to their own specifications, but do not be shocked if Apple rejects the apps once submitted.

Four and a half years after the release of the original iPad, these issues remain unresolved – to the frustration not only of this website, but publishers worldwide.

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