Yet more iPhone monkey business from Apple

A Techcrunch article (which references this prior article as well slams Apple yet again for more iPhone App Store idiocy, this time centered around the Hottest Girls app.

It completely confuses me what Apple is thinking here: add parental controls to the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS, then when an application adds nudity to take advantage of this, pull the app from the App Store. Huh?

The addition of a nudity category and then pulling an app that has nudity is at best confusing. At worst, it looks like Apple is entrapping developers, or being selective on what apps get to stay in the store.

I’m not sure I can recommend anyone trust Apple at all for anything anymore.

Apple rejects iPhone apps with no reason given

Ars Technica reports on Apple rejecting iPhone applications without offering an explanation. Of particular note:

Marco Arment, lead developer of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, chronicled the situation on his blog. On the last day of WWDC ’09, Apple had a session dedicated to the process of publishing an iPhone app to its App Store. The session ended early, and lines of developers formed at the microphones to ask questions—ostensibly concerning App Store rejections and how best to resolve issues identified in the review process. However, at the end of the presentation, the presenter and other engineers quickly exited the room, leaving the assembled developers scratching their heads.

“It was a giant middle finger to iPhone developers,” wrote Arment. “Clearly, they had absolutely no interest in fielding even a single question from the topic that we have the most questions about.”

And later, as reported on tuaw.com, one unlucky developer got this in their e-mail:

“As you know, Apple reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject any application for any reason.”

So if you plan to develop for the iPhone, this is what you’re getting into. You’re at the mercy of Apple, and they may not even tell you why you can’t sell the application you just spent hours or days working on.

No other computing platform, anywhere, has one company deciding what can and can’t run on it. (And yes, I realize it may seem odd to call the iPhone a computing platform, but that is in effect what it is: a computer that can also make telephone calls.)

I believe the developers, at minimum, have the right to know why Apple rejects an application. However, I also believe a far wiser choice, one that might just get Apple’s attention, is for developers to stay away in droves until Apple takes a more hands-off approach with regards to the iPhone platform.

Personally, I believe the only valid reason for rejection of an iPhone application is if it has the potential to cause harm to the mobile networks that the iPhone connects to. I should note here, “harm” does not include the following:

  • letting the user make phone calls over a VoIP network like Skype or Gizmo;
  • content that Apple finds objectionable or that in Apple’s judgment does not belong on a mobile phone;
  • parodying Apple, AT&T, O2, or other carriers which Apple partners with;
  • any of the other reasons Apple has for rejecting applications for the iPhone.

It’ll probably be a cold day in hell before that actually becomes reality, however. I’m not going to wait.

Apple sets a new low in hypocrisy

Just when you think you’ve seen everything:
a recent Mashable article describes a rejection of the EFF’s iPhone application (the EFF’s own article is also available). EFF’s transgression was to include a YouTube video containing a certain profane word (hint: you can only say it once in a PG-13 movie) in its subtitles. The problem here is that this same YouTube video is accessible via the iPhone’s YouTube application, among with others that probably would have made the late George Carlin blush.

This is not the only example of Apple blundering with an iPhone application rejection. There are also the Baby Shaker blunder (article on telegraph.co.uk), the initial rejection of the Nine Inch Nails application (forum post on nin.com), and the rejection of a Project Gutenberg e-reader (article on boingboing.net). Examples abound, but the underlying theme here is that Apple feels the overwhelming need to play nanny and censor everything in its iPhone app store.

Apple should realize this is unsustainable. The sooner someone releases an “iPhone-like” phone that is not subject to Apple’s nannying, censorious whims, the better. Bonus points if it can run iPhone applications as-is.