App Review

The App Review team is an essential line of defense, carefully reviewing every app and every update to ensure they adhere to the App Store’s strong guidelines on privacy, security, and spam. The guidelines have changed over time to respond to new threats and challenges, with the goal of protecting users and providing them with the very best experience on the App Store.

Apple’s goal is always to get new apps onto the store. In 2020, the team assisted more than 180,000 new developers in launching apps. Sometimes this takes a few tries. An app might be unfinished or not functioning properly when it’s submitted for approval, or it might not yet have a sufficient mechanism for moderating user-generated content. In 2020, nearly 1 million problematic new apps, and an additional nearly 1 million app updates, were rejected or removed for a range of reasons like those.

A smaller but significant set of these rejections was for egregious violations that could harm users or deeply diminish their experience. In 2020 alone, the App Review team rejected more than 48,000 apps for containing hidden or undocumented features, and more than 150,000 apps were rejected because they were found to be spam, copycats, or misleading to users in ways such as manipulating them into making a purchase.

Some developers perform a bait and switch: fundamentally changing how the app works after review to evade guidelines and commit forbidden and even criminal actions. When such apps are discovered, they’re rejected or removed immediately from the store, and developers are notified of a 14-day appeals process before their accounts are permanently terminated. In 2020, about 95,000 apps were removed from the App Store for fraudulent violations, predominantly for these kind of bait-and-switch maneuvers. 

In just the last few months, for example, Apple has rejected or removed apps that switched functionality after initial review to become real-money gambling apps, predatory loan issuers, and pornography hubs; used in-game signals to facilitate drug purchasing; and rewarded users for broadcasting illicit and pornographic content via video chat.

Another common reason apps are rejected is they simply ask for more user data than they need, or mishandle the data they do collect. In 2020, the App Review team rejected over 215,000 apps for those sorts of privacy violations. Apple believes privacy is a fundamental right, and this commitment is a major reason why users choose the App Store. 

Even with these stringent review safeguards in place, with 1.8 million apps on the App Store, problems still surface. Users can report problematic apps by choosing the Report a Problem feature on the App Store or calling Apple Support, and developers can use either of those methods or additional channels like Feedback Assistant and Apple Developer Support.



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