We wrote the guidelines at Apple in order to help developers understand what was allowed in the App Store. Not only is it about what is allowed, but also what will get you rejected, and what will get your membership terminated.
It is important to read the guidelines and understand them prior to submitting a binary to App Store Connect. Why? Because "ignorance of the law" is no excuse as far as Apple is concerned. You do something to get yourself terminated, you're going to have to wait a year until you can even ask Apple to let you back in. So be careful.
Because the guidelines are long and difficult to understand, I've written this guide to help simplify the main things Apple is looking for.
What are the big three?
As seen in the above infographic, Apple cares about a key three things:
1. Protect the brand
Apple doesn't want you to put anything on the store that diminishes their brand. They have numerous guidelines to ensure you don't tarnish their image, as seen below:
1.1 Objectionable Content
Objectionable content has the ability to tarnish the Apple brand due to "guilt by association". If Apple approves an app that has pornographic content, weapons use, animals being killed, defamatory language or hate speech, it means that Apple must be OK with it. And believe me, Apple is not OK with that.
1.2 User Generated Content
User Generated Content has the capacity to get really bad, really quick. This can devolve into 1.1 in no time at all, again, tarnishing the image. If you support UGC, then you need to have the right checks and balances in place, per the guideline.
2.1 App Completeness 2.3 Accurate metadata
Having an incomplete app will infuriate users and make Apple look bad. Having inaccurate metadata, like marketing text that is a "bait and switch", will also frustrate the users. This is the type of stuff that makes Apple unhappy.
These are just a few of the guidelines that Apple is worried about when protecting their brand.
2. Protect the customer
Protecting the user seems like an obvious one, but you would be surprised what developer's want their customers to do: binge drinking or smoking, engage in hate speech, give away your location, ad much much more.
1.1 Objectionable Content
Yes, objectionable content again. After all, Apple believes that keeping you from seeing objectionable content of any kind, is protecting you. They view this as one of the big unforgivable sins of the App Store.
1.4 Physical Harm
Developer's have often submitted apps to the store that have the potential of harming the customer. These include things like binge drinking apps, medical diagnosis apps by unqualified individuals, drug use, DUI checkpoint alerts, and apps that issue unsafe dares.
2.4 Hardware Compatibility
Believe it or not, developer's have submitted apps to make the iPhone a "hand warmer". How does that work? It overclocks the CPU of the device in such a way that the phone works overtime, generating excessive heat. Apple believes that it can drain the battery and reduce the longevity of the phone. To Apple, doing this type of stuff adversely affects their customer, causing them harm.
3. Give Apple Their Percentage
Apple doesn't create amazing products, create and update APIs and run an App Store for pure joy. They do it for a profit, and they want their cut.
The entire Section 3 is about how Apple wants you to do business in their store. They illustrate what you can and cannot do. Read this section in its entirety because of the many rules. The bottom line is that you should use In-App Purchase for anything digital, and use credit card/Apple Pay for anything physical. Pretty straightforward.
You want to get around In-App Purchase? Read closely, as there are some loopholes.