Update: Version 2.2 has since been approved. See: https://getpocket.wpengine.com/2010/08/version-2-2-approved/
An update to Read It Later (version 2.2) was rejected by Apple yesterday. Though the update includes a number of enhancements (full changelog here), in the eyes of the reviewers, it should have been a fairly minor update. The only ‘new’ functionality was replacing RIL’s existing sharing features with my new open source sharing library ShareKit.
The reason for the rejection was one I have not seen before and have not been able to find a single reported instance of after searching around on the web and within the developer forums. For transparency I’m posting the full response from Apple below (I bolded the major line of importance):
Thank you for submitting Read It Later Free & Read It Later to the App Store.
We’ve reviewed your apps, but cannot post these versions to the App Store because they require customers to register with personal information without providing account-based features. We have included additional details below to help explain the issue, and hope you’ll consider revising and resubmitting your application.
Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content; such user registration must be optional and tied to account-based functionality.
If you have any questions about this response, or would like to discuss it further, please feel free to reply to this email. We look forward to reviewing your revised apps.
App Review Team
iPhone Developer Program”
If that is true, then outside of games, almost every single popular application in the app store would be affected. The Facebook app, Twitter app, Evernote app, Google Reader apps, and any other application for a web-based service that requires an account would be rejected.
This is what is confusing to me:
- “cannot post these … because they require customers to register with personal information without providing account-based features”
- “Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content”
That seems to be contradictory.
Line 1 seems to say that it is okay to have registration as long as it is for an app that is account-based. What doesn’t make sense about this line is why RIL would have been rejected. Read It Later is a simple account-based service. Read It Later does not collect ‘personal’ information, you just need a username and password to create an account. The account allows you to sync your reading list between your iPhone, iPad, computers, and browsers. Was this somehow a simple misunderstanding?
Line 2 is much scarier. It seems to imply that apps cannot require registration and if they do, they still have to function without an account. I cannot imagine most companion apps to web services would be very useful without an account. For example, would you want to use an account-less Facebook app?
I think it would be very unlikely that Apple is going to start preventing apps like Facebook from requiring logins. That’s why I think something else happened here. The only slight fear I have over #2 is that this seems like a new rejection reason because I have not been able to find another reported instance.
I emailed Apple yesterday for further clarification but have not had a response. (I assume I won’t receive one until Monday).
I’m hoping that this is a simple misunderstanding and not a completely new rule for the app store. If it is, it’s going to affect a LOT of applications and a LOT of users in a very negative way.