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Apple cracks down on coronavirus apps in the App Store

Apple App Store
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Right now people are looking for as much information they can get about  coronavirus, from the number of cases and symptoms to look for to how to get tested. And that includes the millions of users who visit Apple’s App Store. 

Now Apple is cracking down on certain COVID-19 apps in order to prevent the spread of misinformation while giving those apps that use trustworthy sources an expedited path to approval.

According to a letter sent to developers by Apple that was shared with Tom’s Guide, the company is “evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities. These include "government organizations, health focus NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues and medical or educational institutions."

Apple says that only developers from one of the above organized entities should even bother submitting apps related to COVID-19. The company is also understandably banning entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme.

To speed things up for developers who are following these criteria, Apple is encouraging them to select “Time-Sensitive Event” on the expedite request form to get a prioritized review. 

When you do a search for “coronavirus” in the App Store today, you see several health-related apps that seem to be legit, such as Healthynked COVID-19, which is using data from the WHO. There’s also Relief Central with Coronavirus Guidelines, which is a free app that includes five resources published by leading health organizations. 

There are also various apps that show you the proper way to wash your hands and a food storage calculator for getting through the coronavirus outbreak for those who are at home.

It has been 11 days since Google removed all coronavirus apps from the Play Store search function, which was more of a nuclear option to help prevent the spread of misinformation. 

Hopefully, we’ll see more useful apps get into the App Store soon as a result of Apple’s updated policies.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.