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Thiago Ricieri
Thiago Ricieri

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Show DEV: Apple rejected my app, so I decided to open-source it

Emojilist project sample screens

Originally posted in my blog. Following the same idea of Show HN, this post is to spread the word to the DEV community.

Earlier this year, I had the project of creating one new app per month, try to monetize them or run them as a side-project business. I started with the idea to solve a problem that I had.

I wanted a straightforward way to create shopping lists using only emojis. Just that, only emojis are allowed. Instead of writing:

- Bananas
- Apples
- Cookies
- Meat
- Chicken
- Rice
- ...
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I wanted a list like this:

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Pretty silly, but still fun. Check out the repository here.

Investing time to make it happen 👨đŸģ‍đŸ’ģ

I had a fun time creating it, exploring a new project architecture for iOS from scratch and trying out some nice libraries like Realm and Spring. I even calculated the amount of time I invested creating it so I could calculate how much I needed to get in revenue in return by selling it:

App Hours spent R$/h Total Cost
Mojilist 51 R$100,00 R$5,100

The rejection ☚ī¸

Everything was fine, and I was excited to release, I generated the screenshots needed, and I have sent the binary to Apple for review. My surprise was that the app got rejected because it used Emojis:

Answer from Apple (1)

Answer from Apple (1)

Answer from Apple (1)

Answer from Apple (2)

First of all, I was surprised they were enforcing such policy, to me it makes no sense: they already charge a big chunk of any sale in the store (30%), the minimum I expected was to be free to use at the emojis they have popularized throughout their platform. It's not like they wouldn't get paid for it 🤷‍♂ī¸

Open-sourcing the project

Personal opinions aside, I would need to draw many icons to get the chance of resubmitting it, and I think my time would be better invested in other stuff (like learning Node.js, React.js or creating another app that does not use emojis 😡). So I decided to open source this project to get community feedback and perhaps create something else from it. Maybe it could be a good starter for junior developers to try to understand how to build an app from scratch.

Unfortunately, I had to remove the iconography I used, as it is copyrighted. But other than that, the rest is distributed under Apache 2.0 license. Enjoy by checking out the repository at GitHub and let me know what you think!

Top comments (4)

nicoxxl profile image
Nicolas B.

Hi! I don't know much about iOS and I wonder why you did not ask for the system to render a specific character and show it. Like instead of asking to render an image of the emoji you are just displaying the character U+1F600 ?

thiagoricieri profile image
Thiago Ricieri

Yes I am, just the character 😅. I did prepared some code to accept images, but I moved on. Maybe I'll come back to this later this year.

nickwu007 profile image
Nick Wu

Hi Thiago,

I am developing something similar to your app, in the sense that it extensively uses emojis. Thanks for bringing this up.

I was wondering what happens if you override the rendered emojis with a different emoji font, e.g. Noto Emoji. It seems like Apple is forbidding its own trademarked emojis but not the other versions?

Would like to discuss further. Cheers!

thiagoricieri profile image
Thiago Ricieri

Yes that's right! You need to use your own emoji's, the trademarked images Apple created are IP and they don't let you use to replace iconography, only where it would be used by the user to input text, as far as I understood from their review guidelines. Using Noto would be fine I think.