I'd like to develop/publish an app that lets other make "mini apps" and provide them within the main app. I've read before that Apple discourages apps that 'replicate the function of the app store'. But what if the app only lets you buy the "mini apps" with existing credit from in-app purchases from Apple?

Edit: I feel like I didn't use an appropriate example and left things open to speculation, as was mentioned by the editor. Here is something more concrete: I want to create a social app with core functions (such as messaging and profiles), but I want to allow other developers to create their own "mini apps" within the app to extend functionality. For example, a developer could create a tic-tac-toe mini game, that lets users interact in that way, and users could activate/download that within the main app without having to install a whole new separate app from the app store.

So now the concrete question is, does this functionality/use-case violate Apple's rules?

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    This question seems to invite speculation about "what would Apple do if I …". No one here can answer what Apple would do. There are a number of concrete questions you could ask, but this question, as asked, reads like an appeal to the masses against Apple's hypothetical decision to reject your hypothetical app. – Daniel Jun 26 '13 at 2:30
  • I updated my original post, thanks for the clarification Daniel! – Andrew Michael Jun 26 '13 at 3:48
  • It still seems to me to be an open question that could be left to a whole lot of speculation with no real evidence. I'm not sure of the usefulness of such a question... – daviesgeek Jun 26 '13 at 5:31

Short answer: No.

In the past, Apple has specifically prohibited any app that loads other application code. While that's been relaxed a little, and you can now publish programming tools, you still cannot use an app as a way to sell other apps.

Don't bother spending the $99. I can guarantee you that if you do what you're saying, Apple will reject your app out of hand.

Instead, consider implementing your project as a web site, where you can do whatever you want with no restrictions.


Apple does not publish their detailed App Review rules publicly, so you might need to spend $100 to dip your toes in that pool.

Specifically, the terms of the sale say "no refunds", but if you legitimately contacted them within a week or so of joining and explained exactly how you felt the T&C don't work for your business model, I suppose they might give you a refund if you really made a good case that the terms of the sale were hidden from you until you paid. You could also sign up as a free developer and ask them to disclose the terms before you bought a one year developer account - but most people I know just invest the $100 to kick off their first year as a developer with access to NDA agreements and details about what Apple prefers to sell on their App Stores.

It's not clear what you gain with an App in this category since you can just be part of the iTunes affiliate program and get paid to refer people to purchase other apps. Again, some apps have worked in this class, others have worked and been pulled and others never were approved in the first place. I think the main idea is you'll want a frank dialog with Apple about what they consider to be "paid promotion" or "gaming the ratings" and what they consider fine editorial promotion of apps you have reviewed.

  • Hmmm. I just did a quick Google search for "App Review rules" and saved myself $100, it looks like some copies are available freely on the internet. So looking at the "Functionality" section, I think I found my answer. Do you think "Apps that install or launch other executable code will be rejected" would apply to my idea? The app itself wouldn't come pre-installed with the "mini apps", you could choose which to install. I was hoping, though, to get a response from an iOS developer who may have had this situation or read about an app being rejected because there were apps inside the app. – Andrew Michael Jun 26 '13 at 1:22
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    I'll tell you right now they'll reject your app. Apple tends to leave a lot of room when it comes to acceptance and rejections. They have historically been very quiet on exact guidelines and they often change over time. But recently, they've begun to crack down on "store" type apps, pulling several from the store. You can try, but the model you propose won't pass and they'll likely reject it under the "it too closely replicates the App Store" guideline. – user10355 Jun 26 '13 at 1:57
  • I don't want to create an "app store", I simply want to allow extensions or extended functionality that is created by other developers for the main app, but the extensions would act like "mini apps" that at some point developer can try to monetize. Please see my edit on the original question, thanks! – Andrew Michael Jun 26 '13 at 4:12
  • It doesn't matter what you want to do. All that matters is how Apple looks at what you did. And I'll tell you you are wasting your time. Apple doesn't work like you think and no one here can't tell you unequivocally whether it'll pass. But your idea sounds convoluted and will pull traffic away from the App Store. It may also inject other code that Apple may not be able to verify. Give it a shot, but I'm telling you from experience, it'll get rejected. But at the end of the day, it's your time/money so have at her :) – user10355 Jun 27 '13 at 0:17

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