If your business provides an app via Apple's App Store then there are certain requirements you need to be aware of in order to keep your app from being delisted.
This article will take you through those requirements and teach you everything you need to know in order to keep your app available in the Apple App Store.
At Step 1, select the App option.
Answer some questions about your app.
Answer some questions about your business.
- 1. Apple's App Requirements
- 1.1. Keep Your App Updated and Functioning
- 1.2. Make Sure That Your App Contains Appropriate Content: Allow Reporting
- 1.4. Get Consent and Allow it to be Freely Withdrawn
- 1.5. Comply With Apple's User Generated Content Requirements
- 2. What to Do if Your App is Removed from the Apple App Store
- 2.1. Check Apple's App Store Review Guidelines
- 2.2.2. How to Add a Custom EULA to Apple App Store Connect
- 2.3. Ensure You Get Valid Consent
- 2.4. Let Users Report and Limit Abusive Content
- 2.5. Contact Apple
- 3. Summary
Apple's App Requirements
Apple's App Store has a set of requirements, known as the App Store Review Guidelines, that pertain to safety, performance, business, design, and legal concerns. Your business must abide by in order to avoid having your app delisted.
All features of your app, including any ad networks or third party analytics services or software development kits (SDKs) that your app uses need to comply with Apple's requirements as well.
Apple's requirements include making sure that your app functions smoothly, contains original, appropriate content that doesn't pose a threat of physical harm to any of your users, and complies with state and international privacy regulations.
Keep Your App Updated and Functioning
Apple may remove your app if it has any bugs or if it functions poorly or is incomplete. You should make sure that your app is updated at regular intervals to ensure optimum functionality.
In its Guidelines, Apple states directly that it will reject incomplete app bundles or apps that crash or have obvious technical problems:
Submitting your app without it being complete or when it has technical issues will also be bad for business. Even if Apple doesn't remove it from being downloadable, people will surely leave bad reviews and ratings about your broken app, which can put you out of business.
Don't release your app until it's tested and working properly to keep both Apple and your app users satisfied.
Make Sure That Your App Contains Appropriate Content: Allow Reporting
If your app contains objectionable content, Apple may remove it from the App Store.
Appropriate content is original, inoffensive, and doesn't carry a risk of causing physical harm to users.
Apple lets businesses know what its design standards are when it comes to plagiarizing, and copying popular apps is a surefire way to get your app removed from the App Store:
You also need to make sure your app doesn't contain any offensive content. While there is no hard and fast rule as to what offensive content consists of, Apple notes that it will remove any app that contains content that is bigoted, rude, or creepy:
You should have a process in place to ensure that any User Generated Content (UGC) is appropriate. Apple requires businesses that use UGC to give users a means of contacting you and reporting offensive content as well as blocking users who violate content guidelines:
If you don't have a process in place for users to report and block abusive content or accounts, your app can be removed. Here's what the usual rejection message from Apple looks like:
One way to meet this requirement is to make sure to have a feature where users can report offensive, violative content as well as block such users if they wish to.
Here's how Instagram does this by providing a menu where users can choose to report any post:
Facebook has similar reporting features, including the option to report posts to group admins, or to Facebook. You can also hide individual posts, or all posts from certain users:
Facebook Pages have the option to report the page, as well as block it:
Twitter gives the option to mute, block and report accounts, as well as individual posts:
You should also make sure that your app doesn't contain any content that could potentially cause physical harm to your users:
Once you're positive that your content is appropriate, you should make sure that it follows Apple's privacy requirements.
An example of a privacy law that must be followed if it applies to your app includes the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA/CPRA), which is California's main privacy law, and one of the strongest in the United States. It requires that businesses that collect or use consumers' personal information:
- Provide a means for users to opt-out of the sale of their personal information to third parties
- Inform consumers what personal information they collect and why
- Give users the option to access or delete their personal information, as well as other user rights
The European Union (EU) boasts one of the strictest privacy laws in the world in the form of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Among its many rules, the GDPR requires that any business that collects personal information from residents of the EU:
- Gets consent from users before collecting certain types of personal information
- Keeps collected data to a minimum
- Informs users of their rights granted under the GDPR
You should evaluate where the people who use your app live and make sure your app complies with any privacy laws that may apply to you.
Users can access PayPal's Privacy Statement by selecting the Legal Agreements link located at the bottom of the Profile screen:
From there, users can tap on the Privacy Statement header:
Tapping the Privacy Statement option takes users to an in-app version of PayPal's Privacy Statement:
Developers must also provide Apple with detailed privacy information about their apps for Privacy Labels.
Before answering Apple's App Privacy Questions, do the following to make the process more streamlined:
- Make a list of what types of data you collect and divided it into Apple's 14 data categories
- Make a list of all of your third-party partners
- Identify the ways that you and your third-party partners use each data type and divide it into Apple's six data use categories
- Disclose if you link each type of data to the user
- Disclose if you use each type of data for tracking
Another important compliance requirement is how you handle the topic of consent.
Get Consent and Allow it to be Freely Withdrawn
Apple requires that you get consent anytime your app collects user data, including any time your app records users' activity through their devices' microphone or camera, or through screen recordings:
This can be done when you request personal information from users, such as when they create an account with your app.
Here's how Dropbox does this:
If your app has an ecommerce component, you can do this on the checkout screen as well. Here's an example of how this can be implemented:
Additionally, any app that allows users to make an account needs to give them the option to delete their personal information.
From options within this page, users can choose to exercise their rights to port, download or delete their personal information that Instagram holds:
Now that you have a good idea of what you need to do to keep your app from being delisted, let's look at what you can do in the unfortunate case that your app does end up getting removed from Apple's App Store.
Comply With Apple's User Generated Content Requirements
If your app allows user-generated content, you need to comply with a few requirements:
- Have an EULA and get users to agree to it
- Have a mechanism in place to report objectionable content
- Have a mechanism in place where users can block other users who are abusive
- Act/respond within 24 hours of receiving a complaint about violative content
Once users download your app and are able to submit and view user-generated content, you need to make it possible for users to report content. Here's a standard way to do this via an in-app menu option:
The same method can be used to block users.
After a user reports another account, you must act fast. Let users know that you will respond to their request within 24 hours. Here's how you can do this, with an auto-reply message:
Remember: While this won't apply to every type of app, it will apply if your app allows user-generated content.
What to Do if Your App is Removed from the Apple App Store
If you find out your app has been delisted, there are a few steps you can take to figure out why it was delisted and what you can do to get it back up in the App Store.
Check Apple's App Store Review Guidelines
The first thing you should do is check to make sure that you have followed all of Apple's App Store Review Guidelines. Apple has a set of requirements that you need to make sure your app meets in order to keep it from being delisted.
To keep your app from being delisted, it should:
- Function smoothly and receive regular updates
- Contain appropriate, original content that doesn't pose a threat of physical harm to users
- Comply with state and global privacy regulations
You can download these instructions as PDF file.
First, log in to your Apple App Store Connect account.
Select your app from the menu:
From the General section, choose the App Privacy option:
Here are the steps for adding an EULA to Apple App Store Connect.
How to Add a Custom EULA to Apple App Store Connect
- First, log in to your Apple App Store Connect account.
- Select your app from the menu:
- Select App Information under the General section:
- Scroll down to the License Agreement section and click the Edit option:
- In the Edit License Agreement modal, select the second option: Apply custom EULA to all chosen countries and regions:
- Now you will see a field for where you can add a Custom License Agreement and an option to select the countries or regions for where the agreement applies:
Add the text of your EULA into the Custom License Agreement field.
If you do not have an EULA, you can use our EULA Generator and create one within minutes.
- Once you have the EULA created by TermsFeed, let's get the policy text. You can download the Plain Text file format:
- Paste your custom EULA text in the field box:
- Click Done:
- Click Save to update the app information:
- You're done.
You should review your legal agreements periodically, and update it to reflect any changes that have been made to existing laws or any new laws that affect your app or users.
Ensure You Get Valid Consent
You need to get permission from users before collecting personal information via your mobile app. A simple checkbox next to an "I Agree" statement that users can tap is an easy way to satisfy this requirement. Or, an "Agree" or "Accept" button will work as well, as seen here:
Let Users Report and Limit Abusive Content
If you allow user-generated content, you need to provide a method for users to report and block offensive, abusive content that violates your terms.
Adding a menu with an option to report and block a post and a user is the standard way to satisfy this requirement, as seen here:
Make sure you respond swiftly, within 24 hours.
You can submit an appeal directly by signing into your Apple Developer account.
Apple requires that all apps in its App Store meet its standards for functionality and original, appropriate content. and that they comply with state and global privacy regulations.
Your app needs to:
- Be up to date and functioning properly
- Not contain offensive content, and allow users to report any such content from within the app, if applicable
- Get appropriate consent and allow it to be revoked at any time
- Comply with user-generated content requirements when applicable
If your app has been delisted, you should read over Apple's App Store Review Guidelines and make any necessary changes. You can then contact Apple and submit an appeal to have your app relisted. Depending on why Apple removed your app in the first place, you may be able to get your app back in the App Store quite easily.