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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