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Apple Alters App Store Decency Policy, Cans Over 5,000 Apps

Gordon Kelly

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Apple Alters App Store Decency Policy, Cans Over 5,000 Apps

For a company which prides itself on looking forward, the tyrannical reign of its App Store has a neck so crooked its execs are made of salt.

Without warning Apple has this week decided to 'clean up' the App Store and made unilateral changes about what it considers right and proper. This has lead to the impromptu removal of over 5,000 apps and consternation on behalf of a large section of Apple's development community.

Speaking to the New York Times, Apple exec Phil Schiller explained: "It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see... we obviously care about developers, but in the end we have to put the needs of the kids and parents first."

Now on one hand Schiller certainly has a point and those he states do make a lot of sense. Problem is, much as we admire Apple, it does have difficulty seeing points of view other than its own. So here's the flip side of the coin.

Developers deserve warning. If you're going to make sweeping changes, then those who are likely to be victim of those changes deserve a head's up. Whatever their content, no-one deserves to have the rules switched after weeks and months of hard work. On top of this, the iPhone has parental controls and since iPhone OS is lauded as one of the most intuitive OSes in history they are pretty easy to use as well. If you're a parent, that's your first port of call. The iPhone is aimed primarily at adults and it isn't Apple's job to police the World.

Lastly, there's hypocrisy going on here of the most capitalist kind. For while apps like 'Swimsuit Catalog' from minor developers got canned Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition remains, as does Playboy (both sets of grabs taken from the App Store today). Violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Doom also continue to do a rip-roaring trade so clearly there is no issue for Apple in having the kids play these.

You know what Phil, I'm not saying Apple isn't both an innovative and important company in the technology sector, but it wouldn't do you any harm to *hums* consider things from another point of view...

In related news Wagamama has become the first company to launch a food ordering iPhone app in the UK. This is somewhat surprising since the US App Store is overloaded with such things.

As for the app itself, as you might expect, it is nicely laid out, locates your nearest restaurant, updates menus and allows you to specify collection times - all features you can do with this amazing other app in the smartphone's armoury called the phone.

The Wagama app also asks for orders to be completed by entering your credit card details directly, something that is a) time consuming and b) a security risk. Personally, I'd stick a tenner in my pocket and use the old dog and bone.

Links:

via the NYT

Wagama iPhone app (warning: opens iTunes)

ilovethemonkeyhead

February 24, 2010, 11:55 am

so much for "think differently"

mistrip

February 24, 2010, 2:01 pm

This story needs a "work warning"!

Vivid

February 24, 2010, 2:03 pm

Will we get and advert directed by Tony Scott (let's keep it in the family) for next year's Superbowl showing Bill Gates in high waisted running shorts throwing a hammer into Steve Jobs' giant projected face?





http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Chilliboom

February 24, 2010, 2:10 pm

Two stories so two comments...


Although it was always a little depressing to see just how many 'adult' apps there were on the store this is clearly a deal with Playboy to corner this particular section of the apps market isn't it?


Secondly, I understand your cynicism over the Wagamama app and it does look a security risk but for those of us who are deaf and don't use the phone side of it at all it could be a godsend...

PGrGr

February 24, 2010, 2:44 pm

Yay to the gratuitous pics of hot girls in swimsuits in this story. Way to go, Gordon!

jacko

February 24, 2010, 2:52 pm

You expect Apple to listen to anyone but themselves? Doubt it, they never have before.... I love my Mac and my iPhone, but Apple do sometimes really annoy me!





As for the cynicism over the Wagamama app, I don't get your feelings (apart from the credit card payment bit!); I order food and services online (computer and phone) all the time, instead of using the phone as it suits me. If I'm ordering food, it's great to have it in black and white, listing exactly what I've order rather than trying to explain to the guy on the phone while he is actually doing something else instead of listening to me and then gets my order wrong! Also, I don't think my online orders ever gave me an engaged tone when I can't get through..... :)





Online and app ordering is the future!

Keithe6e

February 24, 2010, 3:01 pm

Oh dear. In recent years I've become a bit of an Apple fan, but censorship is one of my biggest gripes. Steve I'm pretty sure you will be angering more people doing this than keeping happy those insecure women who whine about degrading women, blah blah.

ruthless

February 24, 2010, 3:15 pm

Thought police out in force at Apple HQ.. another reason to dislike them

lensmann

February 24, 2010, 4:05 pm

I'm not particularly fussed about the demise of Adult apps, but I agree completely with Gordon's comments about Apple's attitude, and this is the fundamental problem with any closed platform. Hopefully Android on WinMo 7 will pick up enough marketshare to give developers the option of voting with their feet.





And yeah, guys, this post really needs a NSFW tag.

Tim Sutton

February 24, 2010, 5:53 pm

I don't know why Apple bothered if this is an image thing, amongst my friends anyone with an iPhone is automatically thought to be a tosser anyway.





If it's another example of Apple trying to force people to only use a specific Apple way of doing things, be it organising music or looking at boobs, then what did anyone expect? You buy from Apple, your free choice in using the product is forfeit. You knew that going in.





It's a shame though, I hear pictures of boobs are incredibly hard to find on the internet these days.

ffrankmccaffery

February 24, 2010, 6:46 pm

A really staggering piece of hypocrisy. To disallow porn apps from small developers for being offensive to women and yet apply no such restrictions on offerings from Playboy and Sports Illustration? Somehow I doubt the hack a the New York Times (a company with an equally inflated opinion of itself incidentally)pointed out the contradiction.I hope some of these rejected developers seek legal action over this as there clearly is a case here.


At least one resident Machead in Keith refused to apologize for Apple in this instance. Even though he caught the wrong scent. Cub we're waiting for you too.

MGS

February 24, 2010, 6:56 pm

Oh Tim what a surprise to find you entering anti-Apple comments along with your cronies. I would never of expected it of you! Apple could not win if they left the smutty apps alone they were being criticised and when they act they are criticised! I just don't get what the problem is - when like Apple you are the market leader in design, style, content, quality, usability, innovation, functionality and sheer technology pleasure you get to determine the ground rules in general. Most people are very happy to pay the Apple price and use the best products. A few whinge on this and other forums...

Gordon394

February 24, 2010, 7:02 pm

@mistrip - not according to Apple... these remaining apps are fine for your kids ;)


@Bluepork - not gratuitous, actually making a fundamental point about the hypocrisy here.


@jacko - it's all about the credit card payment bit!


@lensmann - that's the entire point, these are the apps Apple has decided are decent enough for minors.

rav

February 24, 2010, 7:26 pm

Is everyone forgetting all of the adult content also available on iTunes? They're happy to sell movies and shows featuring nudity and sex. And some of the podcasts are very explicit. But I guess Mum's are fine with that.





How long before Mobile Safari starts blocking sites?





@MGS


Apple aren't fanned either way. They could just choose one policy and then apply it consistently to all apps and content.





You also forgot to mention Apple's superior marketing. They've never been the leader in technology. The iPhone has at no point used bleeding edge tech. It's always been about the software.

Keithe6e

February 24, 2010, 7:31 pm

@ffrankmccaffery: At least one resident Machead in Keith





I've always pointed out things that are wrong with Apple stuff, that's not new. The only reason I usually make a comment is when you get the Apple hater brigade coming out with pointless and usually unrelated comments. eg., recently I even mentioned how Apple's nagging screen when I plug the Iphone into my Zepp was pointless and annoying, and should have an option to turn off etc. I'm not sure, but I assume a true MacHead would be someone who think everything Apple do is pure gold dust, I can assure you I'm not one of those.

lensmann

February 24, 2010, 8:10 pm

@ffrankmccaffery: What sort of legal case would programmers have against Apple? Their agreement with developers is pretty watertight in giving them the discretion to be as arbitrary as they want. At the end of the day, it's their store - they're free to refuse to stock whatever wares they choose.





It's clearly bad from a public relations point of view - the huge number of applications is part of what gives the iPhone platform its appeal so you'd think they'd want to keep their developers on side - but I don't see how it's legally problematic.

Chris

February 24, 2010, 8:20 pm

I'm all for a bit of variety in the images you choose to adorn your posts, and I see why these particular choices are necessary, but crikey! Put an NSFW tag on the header! The potential for weeks of female angst in the workplace is just not worth it... :)

ffrankmccaffery

February 24, 2010, 8:23 pm

MGS: your point is just priceless. I had to reach for glass of at first. Apple for being the leader in design, style, content, usability, flower-arranging, innovation etc. should therefore have Chart Blanch to practice arbitrary and double standards such as this?


@Keith: you seem to have forgotten our previous tussles and besides I have a new bunny in MGS to play with here.

Ala Miah

February 24, 2010, 8:36 pm

What? no more boobs?





How on earth am i going to spend my lunch breaks now? : (

Keithe6e

February 24, 2010, 9:32 pm

@ffrankmccaffery: you seem to have forgotten our previous tussles





If you mean sometimes I defend Apple's idea's, then yes I do. But I do for any product not just Apple. If you can give me an example of were I've defended an idea of Apple, when that idea was total nonsense please show me. If a product is good, I will say so, if it's bad I'll say so, I'm pretty much black and white in that area. I don't come out with comments like, oh it's Sony's product X and is a load of rubbish because I don't like Sony.

DrDark

February 24, 2010, 10:18 pm

@Keith @ffrankmccaffery: Would you two get along already? You're both reasonable people. And I don't think it's fair to bring up previous tussle in a current er tussle, anyway.





@Tim: :D.


@MGS: Wow...





@Topic: Apple don't have a proper approval or monitoring process. This has been clear for some time. Their "system" or lack of one is utter chaos where all that's matters to them is getting their money and being able to quote "thousands" as their app numbers in ads.


Since they've gathered quite a few by now, I'm sure they figured they could lose 5000 and still keep their current ads intact. I've already seen elsewhere that a removed app has been resubmitted and approved.





Some time ago, they removed some free app that accessed the project gutenburg library because it was possible to read the Kama Sutra...

Jay4d0

February 24, 2010, 10:45 pm

there are much deeper issues afoot here than blindly blaming apple (or defending them) it isn't apple doing the censorship (though they facilitated it) it's the people who have complained the reason poster Chris said his last sentence, if the situation was reversed and it was mostly male nude apps would all the complaints have come in?


its interesting that women are complaining that their 'fellow' (I hate that term men and women are exactly equal all of the time) women are excercising their right to free speach, movement, whatever and are only complaining because men are looking at these apps yet im sure they wouldn't complain if they were of men

kdot

February 24, 2010, 11:57 pm

for me removing the apps isnt a problem, its the fact there is another way. Why didnt they just use the parental controls to limit the apps view, or add a "This may be questionable... I am over 18..." disclaimer?





As for the women, I am sure a seperate category would have helped, do these apps come up often in normal "I'm not searching for soft-porn" use?? If they do just make category x not appear in searches unless opted-in.





Removing the apps seems like panic or laziness.

lensmann

February 25, 2010, 12:49 am

Oh, for crimmy's sake. Now from reports elsewhere it looks like they've added a new "explicit" category in the App store. One presumes the removed apps can be for resubmitted for inclusion there. Do they just hate their developers or what?

rav

February 25, 2010, 1:32 am

About the Wagamama app. Can I order my Yaki Soba with no bean sprouts?

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