App Store - Criteria for app approval?

Discussion in 'iPad General Discussions' started by Moonlit, Nov 15, 2011.

  1. Moonlit
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    Moonlit iPF Novice

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    Does Apple have any criteria for descriptions of apps?

    Eg, let's say there's a free app that makes no mention at all that's it's merely a free trial, nor for how long the trial is free, nor what the price of it will be once the trial is over, and that you have to register and provide an email address to use the so-called free app in the first place?

    Or, a free app that makes no mention at all that there's an in-app upgrade purchase to both get rid of ads and to use all the features of the app as shown in the app description. For instance, say it's a word game. The screenshots show the game plays words up to 8 characters. But the free app only lets you use up to 6 characters; if you want to use it for 8 characters, you have to pay. But it's not mentioned anywhere in the description, nor is there any mention of in-app upgrades.

    I've recently come across a couple of apps like this, that don't tell you that the apps are in any way limited. Should this not be considered as misleading?
  2. jsh1120
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    Of course it's misleading. But it's called the "app store" for a reason. Apple's objective is to promote paid apps from which they derive a 30% cut.
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  3. Moonlit
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    Misleading or not, all companies' objectives are to make money :)

    My question was basically asking: Do Apple allow apps to give blatantly misleading descriptions? Apart from which, those apps don't claim to be paid ones, they claim to be free for what they make out to be a full working app - which it isn't and which you don't find out about until after you've downloaded it. They are (purposely) omitting to tell you that you have to pay if you want to get what's in their description of the app and what they show you in their screenshots.

    That aside, how can Apple take a 30% cut of something that's free? (not sarcasm, just genuine curiosity)
  4. twerppoet
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    Leave a review on the app's store page, a few negative reviews and the developer should feel some pressure to be more forthcoming. Or if you feel they don't deserve immediate public censure, you could go to their support site and let them know what you think.

    If the app had cost you money, you could ask Apple for a refund. That gets the developers attention real quick, since they have to refund the full amount; Apple keeps their 30%.

    Since it is free, there is little force you can bring to a complaint.

    As for Apple's policies, I doubt they would tolerate an outright lie, but the gray area of omission is something they probably don't want to try and regulate. It would be a huge headache. The policies they do enforce get them enough black eyes.
  5. Bob Maxey
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    Since I am an Apple Fanboy, let me defend Apple and ask you this: have you complained to Apple? Perhaps there are rules and something slipped by. Not saying it did, just asking if perhaps you should complain to Apple and see what they have to say. Twerppoet is right. Comments will probably help. As he also said, it is free so stop complaining. Well, I paraphrased him. Smiley
  6. hamlot.98
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    hamlot.98 iPF Noob

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    How to download PDF dokoments.?
  7. Heaviside
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    Heaviside iPad Enthusiast

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    Well, the advice to leave a review is good---but only to a point. I left a pretty comprehansive review of a terrible app and it never appeared.
  8. richsadams
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    richsadams iPad Super Guru

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    I'm seeing this more and more and tend to agree that although it may not fit the definition of misleading, it certainly can be frustrating.

    I like the idea of the "old days" where you could download a trial version of a program and take it for a spin. Some apps had limited functionality or would "expire" after a short period of time (my personal favorite). For some apps, this speaks to that opportunity and that's a good thing IMHO (although it doesn't appear that they've figured out a way to make a full version expire).

    However more often than not, when I see a "Free" app I have to think that there's a string or two attached...otherwise, why would someone take all of the time to develop and get an app approved for sale by Apple? There are plenty of other ways to avoid taxes. So it's a given that it's either ad-supported or it's a limited version of the full app. I'm okay with either or even both IF the developer is upfront about it. If not, that's where I agree that it can be misleading.

    Other than being "Free" you can often spot the ones that have in-app purchase options. The information is usually included in the side bar of the App Store, under the app icon. Here's an example:

    Screen Shot 2011-11-15 at 2.43.11 PM.png

    Whenever I see something like that I start taking a much closer look at not only the app's description, but reviews as well. I guess it's still caveat emptor (although free is free), but I for one would also like to see a little more transparency.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  9. s2mikey
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    I'm pretty new to this app game and I have to say that I agree with the OP here. It's a jungle out there in the app world. There are usually several choices out there for just about any given task and other than reviews, which IMO offer limited value, you are on your own. I've had cases where I've avoided an app because there is no free trial period or I just couldn't figure out what I was getting into. The more pricey the app, the more pain you'll suffer if you get the wrong app. Now, Apple has a good reputation about refunding people if they email them and state their case about an app they didn't like. That's great and all but eventually you have to stop doing that. Plus it's a hassle in itself and you are tying up resources waiting for refunds and emails to be answered.

    I also agree that free apps are likely to be crippled or whatever but that all needs to be clearly spelled out. And, they can't go asking for all this personal info, make you join something, and all that other crap.

    I'd like to see paid apps have a "No questions asked / immediate refund" period where your account either gets credited immediately or better yet, doesn't even get charged until you "sign off" on the app. Of course, this trial period should be short, maybe just 48 hours or something. I dunno.

    It'd be nice to see this whole system improved though. That much I agree with.
  10. Bob Maxey
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    I agree. I also look for "lite" versions. I know there is a paid version with added functionality available most likely.

    Perhaps it is just me, but I am often ticked off when people complain about why app developers want to charge for their work. Just today, I discussed this with someone that wanted an app that cost 99 cents. She was looking for a free alternative.
  11. Bob Maxey
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    A tad OT perhaps, but I sometimes thank those developers that release cool stuff for free. A grand example of this is Redsn0w, Greenpois0n, Limera1n, etc. All that hard work and the pressure to release a new JB is a tough row to hoe. We should not always complain about the issues the OP brought up, but thank the occasional Dev that gives us for free, something they could likely charge for.

    If you theme Windows, you will discover vast numbers of themes and cool tools that are made available for free and all the creators usually ask for is a donation if you like their work. I use a theme that inspired the the Winterboard theme called Blaze.

    Thanks, Devs.
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  12. Bob Maxey
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    If you are an Android user, you might have noticed some Android Market comments posted by people that download themes for the alternative launchers. Some comments tell the world how the theme sucks or does not work. What often happens is the theme cannot be "run." It requires an additional program, so naturally, it does not work. So reviews are to be taken with a grain of iSalt. Some reviewers are fools and others are unreasonable and some are likely going to hate this platform or that one so everything sucks.

    I think if it is a free install, you really should not complain too much. Perhaps Apple could do something to change how apps are described. For example, tell us if it is crippled, or it is a lite version, or something. No matter what they do some will still be unhappy. That said, I had a look at the apps I downloaded and I knew going in, the version I had was not the full version.
  13. richsadams
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    richsadams iPad Super Guru

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    That is pretty amazing. I can think of applications that I've paid hundreds of dollars for (one well over $1,000) in the past. Generally they were worth it...it took a heck of a lot of expertise and degrees of higher education to put them together. Granted they were full-on professional computer applications. However it does crack me up when I see folks quibbling about 99 cents or how they were "so seriously ripped off". I hate wasting money as much or more than the next guy, but "seriously ripped off"...really?

    I don't have to tell you that this forum is full of people looking for something for nothing. A free trial or as you say a "Lite" app is one thing, but come on...free loaders should scrape a few cents together for crying out loud. How on earth did they pay for an iPad in the first place? (And no..."That's how come I can't afford apps" nonsense either).

    [/RANT] :)
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  14. Bob Maxey
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    I gues I am rich. I spent almost ten dollars for Pages. My God, I could have bought 10 of something else for that kinda cash.
  15. DrHouse
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    It's always a matter of how the user feels about the word "Me!". ;).

    I have my own open source project with around 10k users worldwide. It's free to use, free to modify, free to avoid... But even then, I have some users complaining about it, like the last change the the GUI has made their life a living nightmare. I just don't get it sometimes... Last weekend, a guy wrote me like 15 emails in the day complaining that was just plain stupid, that I should have never done that, etc... (I'll keep it clean cause the language level was pretty low).

    The app is free, and worse, in beta stage! You can send me a comment that this new feature or modification is not what you expected and maybe have a constructive suggestion at the same time. But literally yelling/crying/shouting like he did for a free app what just amazing...

    So charging 0.99$ for an app is probably a real nightmare for the developers.

    On a final note, I finally discovered that he was using an old version, and the design issue was already fixed a long time ago... Gave me a good laugh anyway...

    VicoPad addict!
  16. s2mikey
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    Ya know, maybe we should dump the whole free app thing. Seriously, people should be compensated for their work. I've pulled down some amazing apps that cost me a whopping $2 bucks or less. Hard to complain about that! Just better explanations and app store clarification would go a long way in helping.
  17. richsadams
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    richsadams iPad Super Guru

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    Agreed. I've used some apps and thought "how in the world can they make an app that does all of this for a couple of bucks?" Then that old "it's volume baby, they make it up in volume!" axiom rings in my head.

    Still, then it makes me wonder, did I pay too much for that $30 computer application that did half as much a few years ago? :eek:

    Whatever the case, we are totally spoiled by inexpensive apps now. Just hope all of the developers are making ends meet!
  18. s2mikey
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    Yeah really - there MUST be incentive for people to create newer/better apps. Just wait to see how many posts there will be complaining about the lack of apps should developers stop making them! ;)

    Good point about what we used to pay for stuff - a good app for windows was $30 bucks or more. Outrageous, I tell ya :D
  19. Heaviside
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    Heaviside iPad Enthusiast

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    Though I agree with earlier comments about the need to compensate app developers and not expect them to work for free, I do think one point has been somewhat overlooked.

    I remember when I first bought my iPad being somewhat taken aback at it being such a "clean slate". Though it came with a few basic apps, to get any functionality at all I had to go through the apple store. As I was used to the pc world, with relatively free access to a lot of content and functionality (say Silverlight and---dare I utter the word?---Flash, Open Office, and so on almost ad infinitum) I felt severely limited at first. I bought the iPad primarily to do my research using pdf docs and notewriting tools, so the selling point for me was the availability of Goodreader at what I thought was a reasonable price and several freebie (though bare bones) note taking apps. And the relatively large screen compared with dedicated e-book readers, though I do like to read fiction on my Nook with its e-ink.

    I only began to appreciate the truly amazing capabilities of the iPad for other uses because of the availability of free or very cheap apps fo other things. Without them, I would still be using it strictly for my original purpose. But I am frustrated a great deal when I see an app (such as a thirty buck notetaking app mentioned on another thread) that has no trial version so that I can test drive it before laying out the bucks.

    Not trying to argue any points that have been raised, just recounting my own experience and reactions, be they enlightened or beknighted!
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  20. jsh1120
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    All well taken points, Heaviside. One point bears mentioning, I think. It's my understanding (and like always I could be wrong) that Apple prohibits "trial" apps since they fall under the prohibition against forcing a user to "re-up" for an app they've already purchased. Arguably, of course, that's what you do when you "subscribe" to a periodical, but I believe the reasoning there is that your "app" still works as it did when you purchased it. You're only paying for more content. In view of that prohibition, the "in app" purchase option emerged.

    Personally, this entire area is just one of my many complaints about the Apple App Store as an adjunct to iTunes. The absence of clear designations of app functionality for various iOS devices leaves it to developers to stick "HD" on apps specifically designed for the iPad. And even for apps that are supposed to be "universal" or even in the worst case designed specifically for the iPad one often finds that an app works only in portrait mode (having been developed for the iPhone.)

    In view of the these problems and the terrible search capabilities in the App Store, I resort to third party tools such as AppShopper to identify apps and if possible consult a developer's website before purchase. Frankly, it seems silly to invest such effort in researching features/pricing/etc for an app (and I sometimes just plunk down a buck and put up with the consequences) but there appear to be few other options.

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