Apple extremely wary about COVID-19 apps on the App Store
Given the pace at which the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading, information technology plays an important role in keeping pace with the latest developments about the disease. At the same time, a lot of misinformation is also bound to crop-up on social media and other platforms. Taking cognizance of this fact, Apple is enforcing certain measures in the interest of making available credible health and safety information in its App Store.
In a post on the Apple Developer Blog, the company noted that it is critically evaluating apps to ensure the data sources are reputable and that these apps are from recognized bodies such as government organizations, NGOs focused on health, medical and educational institutions, and companies with expertise in health issues. Apps from developers that do not belong to these entities will not be allowed on the App Store.
To expedite information dissemination, developers who belong to these organizations can select "Time-Sensitive Event" while submitting their apps to ensure priority review. Nonprofits, accredited educational institutions, and government organizations that plan to offer only free apps on the App Store can request waiver of their annual membership fee subject to eligibility.
Apple is not the only company that is exercising caution, though. Google, too, has rules against apps that "capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic events". The Google Play Store has a dedicated page titled, "Coronavirus: Stay informed", which provides easy access to apps from legit sources such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, it is not clear if Google has enforced any specific restrictions pertaining to COVID-19 as searching for "coronavirus" or "covid 19" in the Play Store returns blank results.
Spent all day yesterday building a coronavirus app just to get this rejection ???? pic.twitter.com/HSJxp0JERS— Zachary Shakked (@zacharyshakked) March 4, 2020