Apps can't link to the internet

September 15, 2012 - app-store apple

Some App Store reviewers appear to be taking an extremely hard line on review guideline 11.13:

Apps that link to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the App, such as a “buy” button that goes to a web site to purchase a digital book, will be rejected

One of our apps was pinged for this despite having no purchase mechanism outside IAP, no purchase options on our website, no links to third parties like DropBox, and nothing else other than a couple of PDF download links in app. When asked for clarification, the Review Team responded with:

“remove any links that link out of the app and external links in the application description.”

Apparently linking to ‘The Internet’ might indirectly lead the user to purchase something outside of the App Store. I’d like to think that this is a single reviewer that’s received dud training; if not I expect Apple will need to update 11.13 to explicitly ban external links.

Update: An attempt to clarify whether all external links are in fact banned, or whether the reviewer felt there was an external purchase mechanism buried somewhere on our site, was rebuffed with:

“Thank you for your feedback. If you wish to appeal your review, you can submit a request to the App Review Board.”