guidelines Stories October 1, 2015

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Is Apple considering another round of major changes to iOS’s Home screen? If watchOS and tvOS are any indication, the answer could be “yes.” Earlier this year, Apple launched the Apple Watch with a purely text-free Home screen, requiring users to identify 20-some initial apps (and manually-added third-party apps) by icon designs alone. This month, it will release the fourth-generation Apple TV with a refreshed UI, again almost entirely eliminating below-app text in favor of redesigned icons with 3D depth.

While it would be easy to write off Apple’s changes to text labels as one-off decisions for “really small screen” and “really big screen” devices, they collectively raise an interesting question: if developers properly redesigned their iOS icons, would text labels — a staple of graphical user interfaces for decades — really be necessary any more? I’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons below…

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guidelines Stories February 12, 2015

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Apple has apparently been revising its app review strategy this week and has decided to reverse a previous decision that banned MassRoots, a marijuana-centric social app, from its software storefront. The application was booted from the App Store late last year (though it lasted much longer on the store than some other apps).

According to App Store guideline 2.18:

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Apple has started enforcing a long-ignored rule in its App Store guidelines regarding what kinds of content can appear in app metadata. According to rule 3.6 in the guidelines document:

Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected

This rule has been mostly unenforced since the App Store launched, but according to a new report from Pocket Gamer, some app developers are starting to see their apps rejected for depictions of violence in their screenshots.

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guidelines Stories October 31, 2013

Apple to Devs: Gold iPhone not best for marketing materials

Earlier this month we reported that Apple had changed its developer marketing guidelines after years of only allowing images of the black iPhone in marketing material. Since Apple’s new lineup of iPhones features a number of new colors for the device for the first time, we noted that Apple tweaked its guidelines to allow other colors of the device, including white and certain iPhone 5c colors. Now, Apple has updated its guidelines once again, this time specifically excluding the gold iPhone 5s from the list of colors allowed in photography and video marketing material (via MacRumors):

Feature only the most current Apple products in the following finishes or colors: iPhone 5s in silver or space gray, iPhone 5c in white or blue, iPad Air in silver or space gray, and iPad mini in silver or space gray. If multiple Apple products are shown, display them in the correct relative sizes.

You’ll notice that it’s also not allowing certain colors of the iPhone 5c (only blue and white are listed), so gold specifically doesn’t seem to be the issue. As it did previously, Apple provides downloads of iPhone images for developers to place their screenshots on and use for marketing purposes. Those downloads are limited to the iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 5s in Silver/white and Space Gray, and the iPhone 5c and iPod touch in black and blue models.

It’s unclear Apple’s reasoning for not allowing the gold model of the iPhone 5s and certain colors of the iPhone 5c. It could possibly be due to Apple’s desire to keep the popular colors unique to its own marketing material, or perhaps Apple thinks screenshots do not show as well on certain colors as they do on black and silver models.

guidelines Stories April 11, 2013

AppGratis-645x250Following a controversy in which Apple removed app discovery service AppGratis from its App Store for breaking Apple’s guidelines, Reuters reports today that regulators in France are planning to ask the European Commission and EU member states for better regulation of technology companies. The statement was made by French junior minister for digital economy Fleur Pellerin on a recent trip to AppGratis publisher iMediapp. Fleur described Apple’s decision to pull AppGratis as “extremely brutal and unilateral”:

“This behaviour is not worthy of a company of this size,” Pellerin said. She added that certain Internet companies were guilty of “repeated abusive behaviour” and said she would ask the European Commission and EU member states to better regulate digital platforms, search engines and social media.

The decision comes as Apple is drawing some heat for its broad App Store guidelines that have allowed it to remove some apps that promote App Store content but not others. Apple originally said that AppGratis was removed for breaking a guideline that warns against “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store.” Apple also said AppGratis was in violation of guideline 5.6 that says “apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.

AllThingsD reported that sources have indicated Apple’s removal of AppGratis is part of a broader crackdown on app discovery applications, but a grey area still remains regarding how Apple decides which apps are approved and which are removed.

Apple told Retuers today that it had discussions with AppGratis prior to the removal and that the developers had “disregarded its technical specifications.” expand full story

guidelines Stories April 9, 2013

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After receiving some clarification from Apple last night over the removal of discovery app AppGratis, CEO Simon Dawalt is weighing in today with a statement posted on the AppGratis website explaining that the situation has been “absolutely crazy” to deal with:

And that is pretty much where we stand, still stunned that Apple took the decision to destroy so much value within their own ecosystem, but more than ever convinced that what we’re doing is good, and accomplishing a much needed mission in a broken App Discovery world.

While explaining that App Gratis has gone through a number of rejections for breaking App Store guidelines in situations that were later resolved with Apple, Dawalt shed some light on what happened on Apple’s side: expand full story

guidelines Stories April 8, 2013

Notification abuse, too, led to AppGratis’s push out of the App Store

This past weekend, popular application discover app AppGratis was removed from Apple’s App Store. Many had correctly assumed that the application was pulled from the store because of Apple’s Developer Guidelines 2.25 clause:

2.25 Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.

Any app that functions too similar to Apple’s own App Store, even if it routes users to complete the download via the App Store, will be rejected. If they already exist on the store, they will be removed. This Apple policy became stringent following the release of iOS 6 last fall.

While the app was removed for breaking this policy, AllThingsD reports that Apple has confirmed that the app was also removed for abusing Apple’s push notification system.

5.6 Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.

Discovery apps that utilize a different, non-promotional business model seem to be safe.

guidelines Stories March 21, 2013

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Update: Apple responds.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt spoke at the company’s Big Tent Summit in India this morning, and, on top of claiming there are no immediate plans to merge Chrome and Android, the executive discussed the possibility of Google Now coming to iOS devices. It appears Google is in a similar situation to when it launched a standalone Google Maps app, as Schmidt claimed it’s up to Apple to approve or reject Google Now for the App Store. TechCrunch pointed us to the comment from the Google executive at around 17 minutes into the interview:

You’ll need to discuss that with Apple” (at around 17:50). “Apple has a policy of approving or disapproving apps that are submitted into its store, and some of them they approve and some of them they don’t,” he went on to say.

A video that appeared to be an ad for the debut of Google Now on iPhone and iPad landed on YouTube last week before quickly being removed. The video (above) showed that Google could implement Google Now functionality—currently only available as a Siri-like voice and contextual assistant app on Android devices—into the Google Search app.

Google already updated its Google Search app with voice recognition and Google Now-like features last October, and a number of comparison videos have since appeared online and show Siri has some serious competition with even the scaled back voice search features. Bringing the contextual assistant features that Google Now implements on Android to the Google Search app would give iOS users yet another reason to use it rather than Siri for a large number of tasks. expand full story

guidelines Stories March 16, 2012

The last we heard, Apple was working with developers of Siri alternatives such as True Knowledge, the developers behind “Evi,” to iron out similarities between the app and the iPhone 4S‘s flagship feature. Apple is quick to warn developers who are submitting Siri-like apps not to mimic native features of the OS. Apple wants an app’s features to remain “distinctly different from the iOS behaviors and interfaces to avoid causing user confusion.” Developer Sparkling Apps reached out to let us know Apple rejected its latest app submission called “Voice Answer,” with Apple telling the developer the Wolfram Alpha-powered alternative is “too similar to Siri.”

Apple is not flat-out rejecting all Siri alternatives/competitors. Sparkling Apps already has an app called “Voice Ask” on the App Store that sits in the top charts of the Reference category. Evi remains on the App Store as well. However, the Voice Ask app employs the same True Knowledge database as Evi. While Apple did not offer a specific reason for why the app was rejected, it is possible that Apple is more inclined to reject Siri-like apps using Siri’s Wolfram Alpha knowledge base. Unsurprisingly, the developers decided to release Voice Answer as an Android-only app on Google Play. So why would you want a third-party Siri alternative anyway? There are a few features an app like Voice Answer, if Apple were to allow it, would provide that Siri does not.

First off, the app would run on all devices with iOS 4.2 and up. It also provides spoken answers, optional keyboard input, and configurable items stored in the app’s memory. According to the developer, Voice Answer’s “speech recognition works better than that of Siri, especially with foreign accents,” and the app includes a chatbot called “Eve” that you can teach answers. While most of these features are also baked into Evi, it is unclear exactly why Apple is working with some developers to coexist peacefully with Siri, and then flat-out rejecting others without discussion. It is clear that iOS users are interested in these apps. With the 99-cent-Evi sitting around 200,000 downloads shortly after release, and Siri currently limited to only the iPhone 4S, there is definitely a market for voice-powered assistants if Apple allows it. However, Apple’s reasoning is vague for allowing some Siri competitors and rejecting others. An excerpt from Apple’s rejection to Sparkling Apps and screenshots of the unreleased Voice Answer iOS app are below. Unfortunately, if you want to try the app, you will have to on an Android device for the time being:

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