Apple sets restrictions for COVID-19-related apps

Apple today put in place more COVID-19-related safeguards — this time centered on its App Store. In a note posted to its developer community, the company explains that it will take steps to vet submissions of apps focused on the global pandemic that has begun to impact nearly every aspect of life across the globe.

“To help fulfill these expectations, we’re evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions,” the company explains. “Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19.”

In addition to assessing content and restricting the number of developers who can submit, the company is also barring the release of entertainment apps and games looking to capitalizing on the ubiquitous and life-threatening subject matter.

Apple has also asked developers to tick the “Time-Sensitive Event” option, in order to help expedite the submission, given that some may be aimed at helping users in time of crisis. The company will also be waiving some annual membership fees for non-profit orgs and government agencies looking to develop apps related to the outbreak.

A cursory search of “COVID” and “coronavirus” finds a number of apps using the terms, ranging from case trackers, news applications, a reminder to wash hands and some gaming titles.