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Apple extremely wary about COVID-19 apps on the App Store

Apple is being selective about COVID-19-related apps in the App Store. (Image Source: Dice Insights)
Apple is being selective about COVID-19-related apps in the App Store. (Image Source: Dice Insights)
Apple has announced that only developers from specific credible entities can publish apps pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic on the App Store. This is being done to curb the spread of misinformation and provide users access to reliable sources. Eligible developers can also chose to get their app approved faster than the conventional App Store approval process.
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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.

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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - Managing Editor - 1358 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
Though a cell and molecular biologist by training, I have been drawn towards computers from a very young age ever since I got my first PC in 1998. My passion for technology grew quite exponentially with the times, and it has been an incredible experience from being a much solicited source for tech advice and troubleshooting among family and friends to joining Notebookcheck in 2017 as a professional tech journalist. Now, I am a Lead Editor at Notebookcheck covering news and reviews encompassing a wide gamut of the technology landscape for Indian and global audiences. When I am not hunting for the next big story or taking complex measurements for reviews, you can find me unwinding to a nice read, listening to some soulful music, or trying out a new game.
contact me via: @Geeky_Vaidy
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 03 > Apple extremely wary about COVID-19 apps on the App Store
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2020-03-17 (Update: 2020-03-17)