Apple rejects the App!

There seams like Apple have changed the requirements for what is required to pass the review process of an App this summer. The App is REJECTED to be published in the App Store!

  1. November 20 I submitted my new app build by SAB 3.5 with a Swedish translation. It got rejected with the reason:
    –> Guideline 4.2 - Design - Minimum Functionality - Your app is primary a book and is therefor not appropriate for the App Store.

  2. November 22 I rebuild the app with SAB 4.0. I thought that the new features in the App would make the Bible App more like an App and less like a book, and tried to explain this to the review team (see the text below). Yesterday this App also got rejected with the following reason:
    –> Hello, Thank you for your resubmission. Upon futher review, we found that the following issue persists: Guideline 4.2 - Design Minimum - Your app is primary a book and is therefor not appropriate for the App Store.

I also talked to the Swedish Bible Society and their Bible App that have been ok for years was rejected when they was going to update the app to support higher iOS version, and Apple removed their existing App from the App store. This is a major issue for the future of the Mac version of SAB, I’m praying for some kind of change in Apples policy. Anyone else having the same issue?

This was the text I submitted to the review team:

A new version of the app is uploaded. Please review it again, hopefully it can be viewed as something more than just a book.

I am using the software Scripture App Builder (https://software.sil.org/scriptureappbuilder/) to build this App.

The first built that was rejected was created with version 3.5 of this software.

November 21 a version 4.0 of Scripture App Builder was released. This new release makes the app more interactive and less like a book.

I can understand that at a first glance a Bible might just be like any book, but there are some features that can’t be implemented if just publishing as a Epub in iBooks.

  1. CHOOSER
    The main reason is the way you look up a reference by book, chapter and verse. The chooser in top of the app is specially designed to have the list of Bible books and the chapters and make the lookup quick.The way the text can be selected is configurable in the settings. It is possible to choose book by grid or list, chapter and/or verse.

  2. VIEW OPTIONS
    The feature to show or hide verse numbers is also specific to a Bible. It is also possible to choose if there should be a new line for each verse or not.

  3. REFERENCE
    The links to reference other portions of texts opens up in a popup, which makes it easy to close and go back to text where the link was clicked.

  4. HIGHLIGHT, NOTES and BOOKMARKS
    This new release also adds more features. If you tap a verse a text selection toolbar appears. The text will be underlined. From this toolbar you can choose to highlight the selected text, add a note, place a bookmark, copy the text to the clipboard or share it. Of course, these features also exist in iBooks, but again these are just referred to the chapter, not the individual verse. In this app the highlights, notes and bookmarks have both book, chapter and verse. Can be sorted by date or reference. This is an important feature for Bible study, and differ from just a book.

I hope this information will help you in the review process. Please let me know if you need more information. A complete list of features for the Scripture App Builder 4.0 can be found here: https://software.sil.org/scriptureappbuilder/release-notes/

Here are the Guidelines from Apple: https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#minimum-functionality

I talked to an App developer in Norway and he also said that 4.2.6 (Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected) also is an issue when using SAB?

They had used the developer framework Good Barber for 6 years, but cant do it any longer because it have been hard to get the apps approved. (https://blog.goodbarber.com/Apple-App-Store-guideline-4-2-6_a862.html)

Have anyone successfully submitted an iOS app from SAB to the App Store recently?

Hey thanks Jonas for posting this and all the effort you’ve made talking with Apple and other developers about this. I’d love to be able to start posting apps to the Apple store. Praying for a way forward!

I am also experiencing problems. It seems to be easier when the app has audio and audio/text synchronisation. The other day I submitted such an app and it was approved right away. It was also a bilingual app.
I wouldn’t recommend to tell the Apple reviewers that we are using a software such as SAB to build our apps. They want to have unique apps and probably don’t like the idea of making apps look similar.
The app that got approved easily the other day now got questioned when I just wanted to make a minor update to the metadata! Now I am asked to explain why the app looks similar to another app that I have published! I can’t really believe that the app is officially approved and then the case gets re-opened again by perhaps a different reviewer… So it will continue to be challenging to get apps approved, even after the change to 4.0

Techcrunch article today: Apple’s widened ban on templated apps is wiping small businesses from the App Store:

What’s unfortunate about the expanded policy enforcement is that these app makers specifically target the small business market. They build apps for businesses that don’t have the internal resources to build their own apps or can’t afford to hire a custom shop to design a new iOS app from scratch.

Instead, these companies help small businesses like local retailers, restaurants, small fitness studios, nonprofits, churches and other organizations to create an app presence using templates, drag-and-drop wizards and various tools to put together a more basic app that can then be customized further with their own branding and images.

Thanks John. A good read.

Interesting bit in the rejection note that says it “only varies in content or language”.

Is there a known/documented method to release the SAB apps as an ebook so that it can easily be installed on iOS platforms?

Apple is really only cracking down on multiple apps from a single account if they look similar. What they want is apps distributed by the content owner. So if you create a personal App Store account (or have corporate account with a D.U.N.S. number), you probably won’t have problems. If you do this, I would have multiple book collections (with related languages) and audio synchronization or embedded video with streaming of audio and video.

SAB can already create an ePub. I don’t know how well it is suited for using with iBooks or another ePub reader. The limiting factor will be Navigation. If there is someone that has looked into this and wants to give us feedback on ePub generations that would work well with iBooks, we would be more than willing to listen.

Support for progressive web apps (PWA) is getting better on iOS. This might be the best way forward on iOS. The problem is offline storage of data. it is hard to tell what the limits are (not hard to search Google … hard to get the correct answer).

Chris

Hello. I’m new here.
I’m one of the translators for the Kelabit language (Klbt) bible (New Testament only), a native tribe in Malaysia.
Our Klbt bible is currently undergoing community check, and we want the community reviewers who are using iPhone/iPad to have access to it. There is an app already developed for Android users.

I’m hearing from you all that it is not easy to get the app on the Apple Store. And I’m also hearing that it’s possible to create multi-language apps. Would it be possible to collaborate and add our bible language to an already approved app?

In His Service,
Lolly Raja

We tested EPUBs on an iPhone 5S. We built with SAB 4.5 on a Mac. For both scenarios we used SHAREit to get the EPUB on the iPhone. We could open the SHAREit app, go to “My Files”, and from there select “Open In” on the EPUB file and choose the desired app. After the first open the App keeps track of the EPUBs.

For no-audio, the built-in “Books” app worked well, and could be configured to scroll. Most readers default to flipping pages.

For Audio/Reading, we only found one EPUB 3 app that worked correctly. The “CloudShelf” app read each page and automatically flipped the page and kept reading. It did not support scrolling or do any highlighting, but it seemed to work well.

Neither had an efficient way to chose a book, so we plan to create a separate EPUB for each NT book.

What is a D.U.N.S. Number?

Apart from personal and corporate with D.U.N.S., what other ways are there to create an account? In other words what are the types of account that you’re suggesting will have problems?

A D-U-N-S Number is a way of uniquely identifying businesses. See https://www.dnb.com/duns-number.html:

The Dun & Bradstreet D‑U‑N‑S Number is a unique nine-digit identifier for businesses. This number is assigned once our patented identity resolution process, part of our DUNSRight methodology, identifies a company as being unique from any other in the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud. The D‑U‑N‑S Number is used as the starting point for any company’s Live Business Identity, the most comprehensive and continually updated view of any company in the Data Cloud.

Apple uses this to verify businesses that would like to enroll in the Apple Developer Program which is required to publish apps on the Apple App Store. There are only two different types of accounts: Individual or Organization. See https://developer.apple.com/programs/enroll/. It enroll as an organization, you need:

  • A D-U-N-S number
  • Legal entity status
  • Legal binding authority
  • A website (domain name must be associated with the organization)

Chris

Hello, I just submitted an App that was rejected by Apple for the reason:

Guideline 4.2 - Design - Minimum Functionality

Your app is primarily a book and is therefore not appropriate for the App Store.

Next Steps

We do have an DUNS#

It is the Creation App.

Thank you for any help.

Does it have sync audio?

Thank you for your reply.

No, it does not have audio. would that help if it did?

@Giraffe,

Contact me sometime and we can review your app and I can try to make recommendations. Apple is picky about apps that it adds to the store. They have to have sufficient complexity in features and engaging with users or they will not approve them.

Chris Hubbard

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