Apple’s New Mobile App Design Guidelines Apple’s New App Store Guidelines

The author Peter Adediran is a UK qualified and fully licensed current practising solicitor specialising in assisting technology start-ups from making the shift to corporate clients and institutional investment candidates. His breadth of experience over ten years means that he has been an essential influence in helping technology start-ups improve aspects of their business that have had a significant impact.

Following WWDC 2017 on 05th June 2017, Apple published a new version of the App Store Review Guidelines. The App Store Guidelines are always receiving minor updates, but these changes include new rules as well as small changes in style.

The new  App Store Review Guidelines reads more like a conversation than a formal set of rules. It is quite fun to read.

The following is light-hearted:

“We will reject Apps for any content or behaviour that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.”

Addressing crucial issues like hate speech, objectionable material, gambling and pornography while injecting wit is strangely refreshing in what could otherwise be the usual dull prose. The guidelines also deal at length with the safety of children and security of data.

mobile app solicitors

mobile app solicitors

App Developer Design

The guidelines contain provisions on App design that caught my interest.

There are some serious changes for agencies that do not employ a dedicated mobile app developer the most important of which are in section 4. Design.

Sections 4.1 discourages what it calls Copycats. It even invokes the spectre of potential copyright infringement claims.

Section 4.2 and 4.2.6 are noteworthy:

“Apps created from a commercialised template or app generation service will be rejected.”

In the digital space, there are some no-code app development agencies whose primary income is from developing apps using commercialised templates and app generation services.

These smaller agencies produce “affordable” Apps based on templates. Recruiting dedicated mobile app developers to mobile App from the ground up with proprietary APIs, frameworks and code are costly. To profit the no-code smaller agencies rely on commercialised templates to bring the costs of development down and to be able to build the Apps.


Apple’s approach in wanting only truly innovative apps on its platform is a sensible approach. Apple is effectively creating a de facto standard for App innovation which is to be welcomed.

That does not take away from the successful Apps that have been built using App generation services, for example, Domestly, which won MTN 2016 App of the Year award, was built on the  Ionic Framework App generation service.

Potentially Domestly too could be rejected if it is reviewed under 4.2.6; however, it is unlikely since Apple allow themselves some flexibility in assessing each review.

“Mobile is the fastest growing online space…”.

Predictably there has been a backlash in the industry with may complaining of unfairness. My view is that any serious app should be looking at a minimum initial development cost of up to £50,000.00 which should easily allow an App to be built from scratch using proprietary code, APIs and frameworks.   Additionally, from the intellectual property perspective, the works in the App will not be capable of copyright if they are built from pre-made templates. It might be an affordable way to build an app, but there is unlikely to be any intellectual property.

If you are looking for an App as an add-on to your website for your small business, then template generated. Apps are the way to go. If however, you want to impact the existing paradigm then compliance with Apple’s Review Guidelines in your App design is a good starting point.

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