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COVID-19: Apple Restricts Coronavirus-Themed Games, Entertainment Apps, Starts Expediting Review of Legit Apps

Apple has provided a “Time-Sensitive Event” option for developers to prioritise the review process.

COVID-19: Apple Restricts Coronavirus-Themed Games, Entertainment Apps, Starts Expediting Review of Legit Apps

Apple App Store was noticed restricting coronavirus-related apps earlier this month

  • Apple has released a statement to inform developers about the update
  • Coronavirus-themed entertainment and game apps won’t be allowed
  • Google Play recently started hiding coronavirus results

Apple is restricting apps on the App Store that are trying to profit from the global coronavirus outbreak. The Cupertino company has announced that only developers from “recognised entities” such as government organisations, health-focussed NGOs, and healthcare companies were allowed to submit their apps related to COVID-19. The new move that was noticed earlier this month and has now been confirmed officially is aimed to ensure that Apple users are getting credible information on their devices through the App Store. Alongside Apple, Google is also cracking down on apps related to the COVID-19 disease.

In a statement posted on its developer website, Apple highlighted the policy about apps featuring coronavirus-related content. The company explicitly noted that it wouldn't allow entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme. Instead, it would only open a window for the apps that have reputed data sources and are built by developers from recognised entities “such as government organisations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions.”

Apple also provided a “Time-Sensitive Event” option on the expedite request form for developers that meet the given criteria to prioritise the review process for their legit apps. The App Store is also waiving the annual membership for non-profit organisations, accredited educational institutions, and government bodies based out of eligible countries that include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the US among others.

“If you are developing an app on behalf of a client, please advise your client to add you to the development team of their Apple Developer account. If your client does not yet have an Apple Developer account, they can enroll in the Apple Developer Program,” Apple wrote.

Similar to Apple's approach, Google is restricting coronavirus-related apps and games on Google Play. The company last week started hiding search results for coronavirus and COVID-19 to prevent the discovery of apps and games using these keywords just to enhance their downloads and spread misinformation.

According to a report by CNET, Amazon has also started blocking all coronavirus apps on its app store. Microsoft, which has its app store on Windows machines, has not issued a statement yet, but searching for coronavirus related apps on its store yielded no results.

Gadgets 360 has reached out to both Amazon and Microsoft to get clarity on their models restricting coronavirus-related apps and will update this space as and when the companies respond.

The Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has affected 158 countries globally with the death tally surpassing the mark of 6,500. The number of cases impacted by the deadly virus in India has reached 110.

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Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at jagmeets@ndtv.com. Please send in your leads and tips. More
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