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How to Avoid Getting your iPhone App Banned

written by: luis84•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 10/8/2010

Don't allow your iPhone app to sink into the graveyard of banned apps. Find out what is bound to get your app banned from the App Store. Learning why Apple bans apps will help you to save your app!

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    The Banned App Graveyard

    There have been many great apps that have all come to the same fate, resting in the banned app graveyard. When Apple rejects anYour App Rests Here...  application, developers typically lose thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Some of the applications that have met this sad fate include the following:

    • Grooveshark Mobile
    • Camera+
    • Flashlight App
    • iChatr
    • Wifi Sync
    • Wifi Stumbler

    Using the above examples, we can begin to analyze what causes Apple to ban an app. There have been many different revisions to the app acceptance guidelines and developer agreement. Without question, Apple is much more lenient than in the earlier years of 2008 and 2009. However, there are still a few surefire ways to get your app banned.

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    Reasons for Banning

    Learning about why Apple bans apps is a good way to avoid having your app banned. As a developer, it is important to research this information before developing an app. Having an app banned can cost developers serious money and time. Here a few common reasons why Apple bans apps:

    • Hardware controls - An App may never utilize hardware buttons for special functions. Taking control of the volume controls, silence switch, sleep/wake switch or assigning a new control to the home button is a surefire way to get your app banned. This was the downfall of the "Camera+" app.
    • Hidden functions - Another big "no-no" for an app, is to have hidden functions. Apps such as "Flashlight" found themselves banned due to this. Including another hidden function or feature within the app, which is not explicitly advertised, is prohibited.
    • Controversial content - Anything that could possible infringe on copyrights or cause complaints should be avoided. "Grooveshark Mobile" is one example of an application that was pulled from the App Store for this reason.
    • Adult or sensitive content - Apple has loosened up about the adult content guidelines, however not entirely. Apps may not contain extra explicit content or anything that is unusually indecent. This may also include apps which become abused by users, especially web cam or chat apps. "Chatr" was a simple iPhone 4 chat app with video support, it got banned once users began to strip on camera.
    • Security risks - Any app that could pose a potential security risk will either be banned or pulled. This includes apps which enable Wi-Fi access. "Wifi Sync" was pulled from the App Store when Apple deemed it as a security risk.
    • Hacking, potential hacking - Apps which are used for hacking, theft of Wi-Fi, theft of passwords or usernames, etc. will be rejected or banned by Apple. Things such as Wi-Fi stumblers, keyloggers, iPhone spys, etc. are a guaranteed ban.
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    The Road to Approval

    Getting an app in the App Store is quite simple; avoid the above. There are few more tips which are likely to prevent you from having your app banned.

    • Advertise all included features clearly. Do not use deceiving names, descriptions or feature lists.
    • Avoid advertising your app as something it's not; even if it's a prank. Always mention that the app is a prank app.
    • Do not include a chat community, video community or anything similar unless it's moderated properly.

    Apple does allow some types of apps which were previously banned. These apps include:

    • Apps which duplicate iPhone features. These include texting apps, calling apps, etc.
    • Prank apps which were previously banned, are now allowed. Just as long as they are clearly advertised as pranks.
    • Adult apps are now allowed with some restrictions. They will still be denied it they are overly grotesque.