Apple is responding to the COVID-19 virus in real time as the global pandemic worsens, and the latest coronavirus response is a new App Store effort to ensure the credibility of health and safety information.

Starting now, Apple is expediting approval for specific apps from reputable sources related to COVID-19. The App Store is also waiving the annual membership fee for distributing free apps for select groups. Apple will not approve apps that use COVID-19 themes for entertainment and games to limit apps that take advantage of the current health crisis.

Here’s Apple’s latest development:

The App Store should always be a safe and trusted place for users to download apps. Now more than ever that commitment takes on special significance as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities around the world are depending on apps to be credible news sources — helping users understand the latest health innovations, find out where they can get help if needed or provide assistance to their neighbors.

To help fulfill these expectations, we’re evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions. Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19. Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed.

Apple is also sharing information for developers with clients and ways to have critical apps approved faster:

We understand the need to get these apps into the hands of customers as soon as possible. We encourage developers that meet this criteria to select “Time-Sensitive Event” on the expedite request form to ensure prioritized review since App Store review may take longer.

If you are developing an app on behalf of a client, please advise your client to add you to the development team of their Apple Developer account. If your client does not yet have an Apple Developer account, they can enroll in the Apple Developer Program. Nonprofit organizations, accredited educational institutions, and government entities that plan to distribute only free apps on the App Store can request to have their annual membership fee waived, if based in an eligible country.

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