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Apple continues to carefully police its users' behavior. It has rejected eReader applications, which it believes are used to infringe upon copyrighted works, and rejected a dictionary app until profanity was removed from it.
Apple believes apps would likely be employed for nefarious piracy purposes

Many have fantasized about using their iPhone as a high-resolution handheld version of Amazon's Kindle eBook reader or as a handheld dictionary.  An eBook reader and dictionary applications on the iPhone certainly seemed technically feasible on the iPhone.  But would they withstand the true test -- Apple's at times inconsistent app approval board?

A dictionary app called Ninja Words, written by Matchstick software, promised to open the gates for eBook readers on the iPhone.  It was supposed to offer a "really fast" dictionary search.  The app was submitted on May 13 and was quickly rejected due to a flaw.  States Phil Crosby, one of Ninjawords's developers, "Our app was crashing on the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0. We quickly fixed this issue and resubmitted."

The now fully-working app has just been rejected again, this time due to the fact that it contains swear words.  Despite the fact that you had to explicitly type the swear word in its entirety to look it up ("fuc" returned no profane results), Apple complained, "Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

The makers resubmitted, this time without the swear words.  However, Apple still made it a 17+ application, requiring users to meet an age requirement to download it. 

EBook readers met an even worse fate.  Apple is reportedly rejecting them in mass.  Why, you ask?  Well, it says that the technology is typically use to pirate works that the user does not enjoy legal access to.  Apple states, "(T)his category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing upon third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store." At first glance, this policy seems in line with Apple's approach to applications that promise charitable contributions. Apple cannot police the developers and will not allow possibly fraudulent postings on their store. Apple does not want to be in the position of vetting rights claims."

Apple is currently under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission over its rejection of the Google voice app.  With its growing track record of rejecting useful apps, Apple's industry leading iPhone is truly missing out on its chance to distance itself from its competitors.  Instead its raising red flags with the government and users alike.

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RE: Day late and a dollar short
By JasonMick on 8/6/2009 5:58:01 PM , Rating: 5
This article is definitely accurate. Daring Fireball inexplicably backed off the story,likely for fear of damaging their relationship with Apple. But they never retracted the quote from the app developer that makes it perfectly clear why the app was rejected.

Here's what the App's developers said:
Says Crosby: “We were rejected for objectionable content. They provided screenshots of the words ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ showing up in our dictionary’s search results. What’s interesting is that we spent a good deal of time making it so that you must type vulgar words in their entirety, and only then will we show you suggestions in the search results. For instance, if you type ‘fuc’, you will not see ‘fuck’ as a suggestion. This is in contrast to all other dictionaries we’re aware of on the App Store (including’s application), which will show you ‘fuck’ in the search results for ‘fuc’, ‘motherfucker’ for ‘mother’, etc."

Apple VP Phil Schiller pretty much outright lied, stating, "Let me start with the most important points - Apple did not censor the content in this developer’s application and Apple did not reject this developer’s application for including references to common swear words."

Unless the developers retract their original quote, this is just a fallacious attempt by Apple to try and save face.

Who are you going to believe -- Apple who has rejected apps for profanity before but now claims to have turned over a new leaf -- or the third party developer that mysteriously got rejected and had its profanity removed?

RE: Day late and a dollar short
By ltcommanderdata on 8/6/2009 7:30:53 PM , Rating: 2
What Matchstick could have done was wait for iPhone OS 3.0 and publish the app with a 17+ rating. What they wanted to do, though, was ship their app as soon as possible. Hence Matchstick’s decision to begin filtering out the words which the App Store reviewers found objectionable. As Matchstick’s Phil Crosby told me via email last night, “17+ ratings were not available when we launched, which means at that time, it was simply not possible for our dictionary to be on the App Store without being censored. Given the options of censoring or sitting on the side lines while our competitors ate our lunch, we chose to launch .”

If you want to be perfectly clear about what the developer said, then it is that they self-censored the app in an attempt to launch early before parental controls were in place. They knew there was a risk in being rejected again but choose to submit anyways. In this case, Apple rejected the app because it pulls words from the which means that Matchstick blocking select words won't help if the content of the internet source changes. Matchstick and Phil Crosby make it clear in their statements that they perfectly understood that rejection concerns and censorship could have been avoided if they had waited for iPhone OS 3.0 in which case the app would have been approved as 17+ without censorship and this story would never have been publicized.

As it stands, I agree that Apple is being hard nosed and inconsistent in their App Store policy. In this case though, they seemed to have been perfectly clear to the developer. Submit early, even with self-censorship and face rejection or wait for Parental Controls and be accepted. The developers chose to try self-censorship and early submission as is their right and were rejected as warned. They resubmit with Parental Controls and are accepted as Apple promised. I'm not really seeing the major miscommunication here.

RE: Day late and a dollar short
By tmouse on 8/7/2009 7:48:10 AM , Rating: 3
The bottom line is censoring a dictionary is stupid, end of story. Maybe if the app was a dictionary of vulgar terms I could see their position. I'm willing to bet kids under 13 do not make up a lot of the iPhone market and ones older than that probably know more vulgar words than the Apple review board put together (why do I get the feeling the board is a bunch of elderly nuns worried about weenies and who-whos) . This is stupid; plain and simple and as pointed out Apple has no problem allowing music and movies to be downloaded to their devices which are far worse than any dictionary. Who in their right mind uses a dictionary to look up the spelling of swear words, most probably couldn't give a fu@k.

By Tony Swash on 8/7/2009 6:44:39 AM , Rating: 1
In a follow-up post, Daring Fireball's John Gruber reports that he received a detailed e-mail from Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller explaining the situation. Briefly, Apple's App Store approval staff objected to the presence of a number of vulgar "urban slang" terms that appeared in the application upon its initial submission in May and recommended that the developers resubmit their application after iPhone OS 3.0 was released so that it could carry a "17+" rating and be subject to 3.0's Parental Controls.

Rather than choosing that route (as iPhone OS 3.0 had no known ship date at that time), the developers opted to press ahead in advance of Parental Controls implementation and stripped "objectionable" content from the application itself.

Schiller wrote:
"You are correct that the Ninjawords application should not have needed to be censored while also receiving a 17+ rating, but that was a result of the developers' actions, not Apple's. I believe that the Apple app review team's original recommendation to the developer to submit the Ninjawords application, without censoring it, to the App Store once parental controls was implemented would have been the best course of action for all; is an open, ever-changing resource and filtering the content does not seem reasonable or necessary."

The above is from this report

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