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Apple’s new rule will force Google, Amazon, and others to shorten their app names

New Apple iOS 7 features are displayed on screen during Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 in San Francisco
Reuters/Stephen Lam
The fewer characters the better.
Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

Apple’s cleaning house in the App Store in preparation for its big iPhone event next week.

The company today (Sept. 1) updated its App Store guidelines to limit the length of an app’s name to 50 characters. Apps that break the rule will be booted from the store if developers don’t make changes within 30 days of being contacted by Apple. The review process will go into effect Sept. 7, the same day it’s expected to unveil the iPhone 7.

Quite a few of the top 100 iOS apps currently don’t make the cut. Thirteen of the top 100 paid apps would have to shrink the verbiage in their names. The ratio of offending titles is the same, coincidentally, for the top 100 free apps. Apple recommends an ideal name length of 23 characters.

Here they are:

Popular apps that must shrink their names to comply with Apple’s new rule
From the top 100 paid appsCharacters
Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!! – Multiplayer Sports Game Starring Your Favorite Characters101
Word Swag – Cool fonts, typography generator, creative quotes, and text over pic editor!88
Tabs & Chords by Ultimate Guitar – Learn and play acoustic guitar, bass and ukulele83
TurboScan™ Pro – document & receipt scanner: scan multiple pages and photos to PDF82
Fontmania – Add Artworks, Text Captions, and Typography Designs to Your Photos!79
NOAA Hi-Def Radar Pro – Storm Warnings, Hurricane Tracker & Weather Forecast77
NOAA Radar Pro – Severe Weather Alerts, Forecast & Hurricane Tracker68
Tiny Memories – Photo Editor for Baby and Pregnancy Milestones62
Stick Texting – The Emoji Emoticons Killer (Emoticon Emojis)60
Tiny Scanner+ – PDF scanner to scan document, receipt & fax59
Couch to 5K® – Running App, Training Coach and GPS Tracker58
Scanner Pro 7 – Document and receipt PDF scanner with OCR57
Dark Sky – Hyperlocal Weather, Radar, and Storm Alerts54
From the top 100 free appsCharacters
Prisma – Art Photo Editor with Free Picture Effects & Cool Image Filters for Instagram Pics and Selfies103
Groupon – Deals, Coupons & Shopping: Discounts on Local Restaurants, Events, Hotels, Yoga & Spas96
Checkout 51 – Grocery coupons, shopping deals, cash back offers, store discounts and savings app96
ESPN Fantasy Sports – Play Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey and More Games80
The Weather Channel – Temperature, Local Weather Alerts, Warnings & Radar73
After School – Funny Anonymous School News for Confessions & Compliments72
Google Maps – Real-time navigation, traffic, transit, and nearby places71
Free VPN Proxy by Betternet | Unlimited VPN to Access Any Site62
Kindle – Read Books, eBooks, Magazines, Newspapers & Textbooks62
Free Music – Unlimited Music Streamer and Cloud Songs Play.er61
Amazon App: shop, browse, scan, compare, and read reviews57
Mercari: The best shopping marketplace to buy & sell52
Yahoo Fantasy Football, Basketball, Hockey, Baseball52

An analysis of a larger range of apps by Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm, showed an even higher ratio of rule-breaking names. The firm looked at the top 1,500 paid and free apps, and found that 27% of the free apps have names that are too long, while 22% of the top paid apps break the character limit. Of the 1,500 top-grossing apps, 24% have names that contravene the new rule.

Apple says publishers have been ”gaming” the App Store search engine by cramming in keywords to improve their visibility in search results. Apple’s new app guidelines are explicit about banning this search-engine optimization technique: “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.”

The guidelines carry the additional warning to publishers to not meddle with their apps’ metadata, including descriptions and screenshots. ”Don’t try to pack any of your metadata with trademarked terms, popular app names, or other irrelevant phrases just to game the system.”

As part of the App Store clean up, the company will check that apps are functioning correctly. Apps that crash on launch will be removed immediately. Developers will otherwise be contacted by Apple and given 30 days to make changes.

Apple has been tinkering with the App Store as it grows more crowded, including offering publishers new revenue models, like subscriptions, and revealing plans for ads on the platform.

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