The iOS App Store is a crowded place, so developers have to use any advantage they can to get their software noticed. One strategy quite a few have used is to include the word “free” as part of the app name. After all, with a total of 50 characters to use in the name, tying up four of those with the word “free” isn’t a big deal. Nevertheless, we’re about to see that word mostly disappear from app names.
Rules That Haven’t Always Been Enforced
Choose a unique app name, assign keywords that accurately describe your app, and don’t try to pack any of your metadata with trademarked terms, popular app names, or other irrelevant phrases just to game the system. App names must be limited to 50 characters and should not include terms or descriptions that are not the name of the app. Apple may modify inappropriate keywords at any time.- Apple App Store Review Guidelines
The iOS App Store Review Guidelines tell developers what they can and cannot do within their entries to the marketplace. One of the rules governs what the developers can include within the name of their apps.
This rule wasn’t always enforced, which is why you see so many apps pointing out the free price within the name. All of that is beginning to change, however, as Cupertino’s reviewers have begun enforcing the rule on submissions to the iOS App Store.
No More Calling Your App Free
Your app’s name, icons, screenshots, or previews to be displayed on the App Store include references to your app’s price, which is not considered a part of these metadata items.<br /> <br /> Please remove any references to your app’s price from your app’s name, including any references to your app being free or discounted. If you would like to advertise changes to your app’s price, it would be appropriate to include this information in the app description. Changes to your app’s price can be made in the Pricing and Availability section of iTunes Connect.- App Store Review Error Message
Apple has stressed this rule for some time, but developers ignored Cupertino’s pleas not to include any references to the app’s price. Recently, according to VentureBeat, the effort to stop the practice has escalated to Apple blocking submissions to the iOS App Store when the title includes pricing information. The error message a developer receives when its app is rejected for including “free” in the name makes it pretty clear that Apple is stepping up its efforts to enforce the policy:
What About Existing Apps That Call Themselves Free?
So far, existing apps that use the word “free” in the name are still listed. What’s likely to happen is that those apps will get rejected the next time they’re updated. It will be interesting to see what developers come up with to deal with differentiating free versions of their apps from their paid counterparts. Some creativity is bound to become very useful in that circumstance.