Sex is great in books, lousy in apps, says Apple

New App Store guidelines offer rules for smut and new home automation and health APIs


Apple has published a new set of guidelines for its App Store, and suggested that those who want to depict sex on iThings should write a book or song instead of an app.

The guidelines offer plenty of rules capable of riling developers.

Here's the opening salvo:

“We view Apps different than books or songs, which we do not curate. If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical App.”

Things are similarly blunt throughout the policy. For example, there's advice to the effect that “If your App doesn't do something useful, unique or provide some form of lasting entertainment, or if your app is plain creepy, it may not be accepted.”

Novice developers are warned that “We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour,” so “If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you're trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection.”

While Apple has a review board to which rejected devs can appeal, the company also says “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.”

Apple's rules also insist that “Audio streaming content over a cellular network may not use more than 5MB over 5 minutes” and “Video streaming content over a cellular network longer than 10 minutes must use HTTP Live Streaming and include a baseline 64 kbps HTTP Live stream.”

There's also a rule that “'Enemies' within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity.”* A prohibition “realistic images of people or animals being killed or maimed, shot, stabbed, tortured or injured” and “violence or abuse of children“ means apps showing either will be binned.

Many will also welcome the fact that “Apps that require users to share personal information, such as email address and date of birth, in order to function will be rejected.”

Cupertino's using the Webster's definition of pornography as “explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings". It's also decided that ChatRoulette and its ilk won't make it into the app store as “Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic will be rejected.”

The guidelines also offer some new insights into Apple's home automation and health monitoring plans.

The HealthKit guidelines include a rule specifying that “Apps may not use user data gathered from the HealthKit API for advertising or other use-based data mining purposes other than improving health, medical, and fitness management, or for the purpose of medical research.”

The HomeKit home automation guidelines offer the following rules:

Apps must not use data gathered from the HomeKit APIs for advertising or other use-based data mining

Apps using data gathered from the HomeKit API for purposes other than improving the user experience or hardware/software performance in providing home automation functionality will be rejected.

The policy also offers plenty of clauses that will raise eyebrows. There's a prohibition on “Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform” and an insistence that “Apps that browse the web must use the iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.”

Rule 11.17 states “Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions” may get Bitcoin users excited, but sadly the document offers no guidance on which virtual currencies are approved.

Apple says the guidelines are “a living document that will evolve as we are presented with new Apps and situations” and urges developers to work hard on their apps because “users really respond to polish, both in functionality and user interface.”

“Go the extra mile,” the document concludes. “Give them [users] more than they expect. And take them places where they have never been before.” ®

*Your correspondent wonders how Apple will respond to news that Sinclair ZX Spectrum emulators on iOS can run the cold war classic Raid over Moscow, which offers a chance to blow up the Kremlin.

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