Apple revamps App Store Review Guidelines to ease app development

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has modified the review guidelines for its App Store and Mac App Store to make it easier for developers to get their submissions approved faster than ever before. 

The new guidelines emphasized five areas:

  1. Safety: Apple now defines objectionable content, user-generated content and other safety topics.

  2. Performance: From beta testing to app completeness, Apple offers insights into what it takes to build an app that performs consistently. 

  3. Business: How can a developer monetize an app? And which business models are acceptable and unacceptable? Apple outlines what it takes for a developer to create an app that can be monetized on the App Store. 

  4. Design: Apple noted that coming up with a great design "is up to [the developer]." However, the company also provides several design requirements for all of its apps and outlines these mandates in its new guidelines. 

  5. Legal: Apple admitted that it can be tough to learn the legal requirements in different area, but pointed out that developers are responsible for ensuring their apps meet all legal standards.

Furthermore, developers can learn more about Apple's new App Store Review Guidelines thanks to a comic book released by Apple. 

The cover of Apple's Review
Guidelines comic book.
Credit: Apple

What do the App Store review guidelines mean for developers?

Creating a successful app often requires hard work and patience, and the same will likely hold true for developers who want to launch App Store apps.

On the other hand, the new review guidelines offer additional context and could make it easier for developers to release a successful app the first time, every time.

Jaq Andrews, information manager at mobile app development company Zco Corporation, noted that the guidelines' new "Before You Submit" and "After You Submit" sections could prove to be exceedingly valuable for developers. 

"Apple has seen millions of submitted apps by now, and they're probably tired of seeing the same problems over and over again. Two short checklists bookending the technical guidelines helps streamline the process a bit," he told FierceDeveloper.

Jaq Andrews

These sections will enable developers to troubleshoot their apps, Andrews said, and identify and resolve flaws before the apps are submitted to Apple for approval.

Thus, developers who study the new review guidelines carefully will be better equipped to produce better apps that become available on the App Store quickly. 

"Developers should have an easier time figuring out if a particular feature of their app is going to run afoul of Apple's policies," Andrews said. "They can fix potential issues before submitting rather than waiting for Apple to reject the app."

What should developers expect from Apple going forward?

The new App Store review guidelines may change the way some developers feel about Apple, too. 

Michael Seidler, Senior Producer at mobile app development firm Small Planet, noted that the new guidelines may transform the app creation and deployment process for many developers. 

"The new guidelines should make the review process more straightforward and efficient for developers, which will in turn keep review times down," he said. "Also, rewriting the guidelines in human readable language and contextualizing them better may encourage developers to consider the guidelines throughout the development and design process."

Ultimately, the guidelines may result in a more successful Apple ecosystem as well, one that benefits Apple, its developers and its end users. 

With the new guidelines, Apple may be able to reduce the amount of time it takes to evaluate flawed apps, as developers will possess greater context and insights that they can use to minimize app errors.

Plus, end users may enjoy a large assortment of high-quality apps, which could lead to increased demand for Apple products. 

"If developers continue to increase their understanding of the App Store review guidelines, then more apps submitted will meet the standards that Apple has set for its community," Seidler said. "And the Apple ecosystem will be able provide its users even more high quality, well-built applications."

Apple has reduced the amount of time it takes to review new apps as well.

The company last month shortened its app review process from approximately eight to 10 days to two days.

"A lot of the way that we build software for iOS is controlled around the fact that you have a one-week release cycle," app developer Chris Maddern told Bloomberg. "[App approval] can now happen within hours of submitting them, which is really awesome because it speeds up the development cycle."

In addition, Apple currently boasts an ecosystem of more than 1 billion active devices and could benefit from a global smartphone market that continues to grow. 

Technology research firm Gartner reported that Apple controlled nearly 18 percent of the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2015, second to Samsung in this sector. 

But with the new app review guidelines, Apple may be better equipped to assist developers, provide end users with better apps more consistently and extend its reach in the global smartphone market for years to come. 

App store banner and Editor's Choice store image courtesy of Apple