Apple made two key moves
on Thursday by freeing up restrictions on the use of third-party development tools on its iOS mobile devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and also making its App Store review guidelines readily available to app developers for the first time.
By being more transparent with the review guidelines, Apple hopes to help developers potentially avoid frustration that comes when a game or app is rejected after a submission.
Among those review guidelines -- obtained by Gamasutra and subsequently posted by Engadget as a PDF
-- are several notes about the newly-released Game Center
, a networking service that links iOS gamers together by adding community features such as matchmaking and achievements.
The Game Center guidelines are generally common sense rules designed to protect users, the hardware and Apple's services. Games that utilize Game Center, for instance, cannot "send unsolicited messages, or [be used] for the purpose of phishing or spamming".
They also cannot "attempt to reverse lookup, trace, relate, associate, mine, harvest, or otherwise exploit Player IDs, alias, or other information obtained through the Game Center."
There are also a number of ground rules related to offensive material in apps and games. For example, "'Enemies' within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity."
Additionally, "realistic depictions of weapons" that encourage illegal activity could also lead to an app's rejection, and games and apps with "excessively objectionable or crude content" may be cut, as well as apps designed "primarily [to] upset or disgust users."
The company is vague in describing where exactly it draws the line between acceptable and objectionable content. The guidelines state, "We will reject Apps for any content or behavior 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."
Any apps that target an individual or group with "defamatory, offensive [and] mean-spirited" content are also susceptible to rejection -- although "Professional political satirists and humorists are exempt from the ban on offensive or mean-spirited commentary."
Apple also reminded developers that a lot of kids use apps, and their parents don't typically set content restriction parameters on their iOS devices, "So know that we're keeping an eye out for the kids," the company said.
And unfortunately for developers working on games and apps focusing on flatulence, Apple said plainly, "We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don't need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn't do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted."
With such a wide array of content available on the App Store, Apple is cautious of letting the quality apps become drowned out by poorly-made products. "If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you're trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour."
Apple said that its extensive 22-part laundry list of guidelines might make the company seem like a bunch of "control freaks," but the statement argued, "it's because we're so committed to our users and making sure they have a quality experience with our products. Just like almost all of you are too."