Let’s face it, none of us has read the terms and conditions or guidelines for anything; we just scroll to the end and click agree. Why? Because they aren’t approachable in just about any way. They are long, boring, and filled with jargon that most of us either don’t understand or don’t care to understand. That said, how many app developers actually sit down and read the App Review Guidelines before submitting their apps? Probably not many, or if they do, they likely don’t read it cover-to-cover.
Since the App Store has so many devs and wannabe-devs submitting apps these days, it is important that Apple try and make their App Store Guidelines as approachable as possible. This way they will have a little less work to do because the dev may have actually taken the time out to see what will get their app accepted or rejected. Also, devs will put themselves at an advantage because they won’t have to wait for weeks only to have their apps rejected because they didn’t follow the guidelines closely, if at all.
Enter Apple's official "App Review Guidelines: The Comic Book". Yes, it’s a real comic, and it fully covers the guidelines from start to finish. What an ingenious way to make their guidelines more approachable! I don’t develop apps, but even I still found the comic to be a pretty awesome read. Each section has its own art style, giving you a rich, aesthetic experience as a reader, all while educating you about the various requirements necessary for ensuring your app makes it into the store.
The Artwork and Stories
To begin with, each of the five sections has its own unique artwork drawn by five different artists. Each artist took their section and gave it an independent story. The stories don’t seem to have much to do with the actual guidelines themselves, but they are each thematically based on the section that they represent. For example, the “Legal” section’s artwork is a noir-esque detective story. All in all, each story is pretty awesome section to section without losing any of the substance, providing a much more fun way to learn these guidelines.
Safety: Mark Simmons; Performance: Ile Wolf and Luján Fernández; Business: Shari Chankhamma; Design: Ben Jelter; Legal: Malcolm Johnson
Mark Simmons takes us through a superhero-like story with very colorful and attention-grabbing artwork. The protagonist comes across a choking giant alien and decides to take matters into her own hands. I'm willing to bet that Simmons created this storyline for the Safety section because choking hazards and helping someone who is choking are both safety-related.
This one might just be my favorite. Ile Wolf and Luján Fernández illustrate a short kaiju story about school kids engaging in an imaginary giant monster battle. The story seems like a cross between both Power Rangers and Pokémon, depicting two building-sized monsters fighting against one another. The art is very clean and seems to have two slightly different art-styles throughout to signify what is imaginary and what is not. I haven't quite figured out how it's performance-related. My only guess is that because they children were using their imaginations, that the battles were a type of performance. What do you think?
Shari Chankhamma's story is drawn like a manga. The characters and scenery look they were pulled right from an issue of Shonen Jump magazine. The story is about a character who goes to the same barber shop his whole life. You could say that since the entire story takes place in a single business, that this is why Chankhamma used it for the Business section.
Ben Jelter's story seems to be a little darker than the others are. It follows the protagonist on his junkyard journey to help out a robot that he finds. The imagery is somewhat sad in some of the panels, but the story is still thought-provoking. I haven't been able to figure out what it has to do with design, but if you have any ideas, let me know in the comments!
Malcolm Johnson illustrated the final story, ending the comic book with the Legal section. It was a great opportunity for him to give us a cool, noir story about a detective who takes on a case looking for a missing man. If you look closely at one of the panels, you can find references back to each of the four preceding stories. The artwork is all simple, black and white imagery that could be pulled directly from an old detective story. The protagonist even wears a fedora and trench coat! All-in-all, the story was pretty awesome. Even reminded me a bit of Citizen Kane!
The captions and speech bubbles are used just like a regular comic would, except they are all the guidelines for the App Store and have seemingly nothing to do with the artwork! That may seem a little odd, but honestly, it works really well. They are well-placed and act like part of the story, making the guidelines very approachable to read.
I think that Apple's approach with this comic is phenomenal. The comic format is a great way to get people to take interest in what is otherwise a boring topic. The artwork is great, the stories are interesting, and I hope that it will set a new standard for documentation.
At the front of the comic, the introduction states that it is a living document, which I hope means that we will see the guidelines updated in the comic as they grow and change. Maybe we’ll even get to see new comics with new stories and artwork in the future. Regardless, I think that Apple has really outdone themselves with this, making up a little bit for the lack of excitement that WWDC 2016 produced.
Have you read “App Review Guidelines: The Comic Book” yet? Let us know what you think in the comments section!