Apple cracks down on coronavirus apps

Games and entertainment apps with COVID-19 as a theme are ruled out altogether, with only apps from a select group of developers allowed in its app store.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Apple has said it will clamp down on publishing apps related to the COVID-19 outbreak currently underway around the globe.

The company said in a note published on Saturday that it would evaluate the data sources that apps use to ensure they are "reputable" and from a set of organisations -- such as government, health-related non-government organisations, medical institutions, education centres, or "companies deeply credentialed in health issues".

"Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19," Apple said.

"Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed."

Any apps that meet Apple's criteria should be marked as time-sensitive when submitted to expedite them through the review process, Apple said.

"Non-profit organisations, accredited educational institutions, and government entities that plan to distribute only free apps on the App Store can request to have their annual membership fee waived, if based in an eligible country," the company added.

Also over the weekend, Apple announced it was closing all of its retail stores around the world until March 27, with the exception of its Chinese stores.

"I want to recognise Apple's family in Greater China. Though the rate of infections has dramatically declined, we know COVID-19's effects are still being strongly felt," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

"I want to express my deep gratitude to our team in China for their determination and spirit. As of today, all of our stores in Greater China have reopened. I also want to thank our operations team and partners for their remarkable efforts to restore our supply chain."

Cook added Apple's hourly workers would continue to be paid.

Last week, Apple followed in the footsteps of many a tech conference in 2020, and shifted WWDC to an online-only event, the exact date of which is yet to be determined.

At the time of writing, the novel coronavirus has infected over 153,000 globally, according to the World Health Organisation, with 5,746 fatalities recorded thus far.

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