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Apple's iAds app found to bend App Store rules

An application released by Apple yesterday that lets users browse iAd campaigns and save ads they like has been discovered to be breaking Apple's own App Store guidelines.

Apple's iAd Gallery application.
Apple's iAd Gallery application

Apple is no stranger to posting its own advertising on, even grouping together online and TV ads on specially promoted pages. But a new iOS application Apple released yesterday, which showcases third-party ad campaigns as part of its iAd platform, manages to violate the company's own App Store guidelines.

As pointed out by Business Insider, the free iAd Gallery app breaks the 13th item in Apple's functionality rules, which stipulates that "apps that are primarily marketing materials or advertisements will be rejected." The app itself is made up entirely of advertisements that users can interact with as if they saw them inside of an application. Based on a section in Apple's iAds guidelines, the app could also be considered as violating the rule that says "apps that are designed predominantly for the display of ads will be rejected."

In the iAd application's description, Apple positions it as a resource of sorts, giving users a way to "learn about the featured ads, including the advertising agencies behind them." The application also contains some bookmarking and exploration tools that let users save ads they like, and browse campaigns by brand.

Still, there's no arguing that the application remains a delivery mechanism for ads that Apple would be unlikely to allow from third parties based on its own rules. Proof enough of that was churned up by Engadget, which had been contacted by the maker of Ads Tube, an application that was designed to collect and organize iAd campaigns for viewing. That app was rejected in June for having "minimal user functionality."

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple's iAd platform was introduced around this time last year as an alternative to third-party mobile-advertising tools provided by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others. The underlying technology, which had application developers sticking in just a few lines of code to have Apple serve up hand-picked ads in their applications, was built into Apple's iOS 4 and launched with 17 participating brands in July.