iOS app Read it Later‘s latest update was rejected by Apple’s App Store team for what is apparently a new (and confusing/troubling) reason: that, “Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content”.

In a blog post, Read it Later developer Nate Weiner said that his minor update to the app was rejected, and that, “The reason for the rejection was one I have not seen before and have not been able to find a single reported instance of after searching around on the web and within the developer forums.” Weiner posted the full email (below) on his blog and also forward it to us:

“Hello Nathan,

Thank you for submitting Read It Later Free & Read It Later to the App Store. We’ve reviewed your apps, but cannot post these versions to the App Store because they require customers to register with personal information without providing account-based features. We have included additional details below to help explain the issue, and hope you’ll consider revising and resubmitting your application.

Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content; such user registration must be optional and tied to account-based functionality. If you have any questions about this response, or would like to discuss it further, please feel free to reply to this email. We look forward to reviewing your revised apps.

Best Regards,
App Review Team
iPhone Developer Program”

As Weiner correctly points out in his post, this email is confusing at best. In one sentence, Apple says that it rejected the submission, “because they require customers to register with personal information without providing account-based features,” and then seemingly contradicts that by saying, “Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content; such user registration must be optional and tied to account-based functionality.” How can an app be both?

Also, Weiner says that Read it Later does not “collect personal information” – the app just asks for a username and password to create an account.

If this is indeed a new policy from Apple, then Weiner would also be correct in saying that, “If that is true, then outside of games, almost every single popular application in the app store would be affected.  The Facebook app, Twitter app, Evernote app, Google Reader apps, and any other application for a web-based service that requires an account would be rejected.”

Could Apple really be saying that all app developers now have to offer their apps with the option of features that are accessible without users registering first? Again, the email is seemingly contradictory on this point – it’s almost as if Apple is saying, we’ll reject Read it Later regardless. We also did some digging on Google and couldn’t find these rejection reasons mentioned, and we would certainly like to hear from any developers that have also received a similar email from Apple.

We’ve emailed Apple for comment/confirmation, but as it is Sunday, we might not hear back from them until tomorrow, if at all. For the conspiracy theorists out there, we have no reason whatsoever to doubt that Weiner received this email from Apple (see the screenshot below) and are with Weiner on hoping that he is right in guessing that this email is just a glitch/mistake and that this doesn’t point to what would be a far-reaching policy change in how Apple approves apps.

Can anybody explain this? We’ll update with whatever info comes in.

readitall Apple rejecting apps that require user registration first?