Monday, August 23, 2010

Is Apple rejecting iPhone apps that require user pre-registration?

Apple has rejected an update to the "Read It Later" iPhone app. It appears the reason is a strange one: the app requires a pre-registered account to function.

Read It Later (both Pro and Free) allows users to bookmark and save pages for offline reading, and to sync your reading list between your iPhone, iPad, computers, and browsers. In a blog post, the developer (Nate Weiner) notes that the latest version 2.2, was rejected for a confusing set of reasons (emphasis his):
“Hello Nathan,

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.

Best Regards,

App Review Team
iPhone Developer Program”
This is strange on a number of levels. In order for part of its core functionality to work (syncing), Read It Later requires, quite naturally, a user account on their system. Additionally, the only information that Read It Later asks for when creating an account is username and password. It doesn't even ask for name, etc. as many other apps do.

After all, as Weiner says, if this were a prevailing rule at the App Store, how could apps like Facebook, Google Reader, Twitter, Meebo, or anything involved with a web-based service that requires login exist in the App Store?

Weiner added that he has asked Apple for clarification, but at first glance this seems like a simple mistake in the App Store approval process (they do happen, as a certain Pulitzer Prize-winner can attest to).

We can only hope.

Update: the 2.2 revision was approved. There was no explanation as to the original rejection.

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