by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 6th 2009 7:44am
Apple's continued arbitrariness in banning iPhone apps continues in weird and somewhat incomprehensible ways. The latest getting attention (and sent in by a lot of people) is that a dictionary app called Ninjawords was forced to block out the definitions of certain words in order to get approval to be in the App Store. Even though the app itself has a 17+ rating, apparently Apple came back with a list of "objectionable" words in the dictionary which had to be removed. Never mind the fact that anyone could just go to a website with the very same device and look up those same words... Oh, and of course other dictionaries available at the App Store seem to have those same words. The article also points out that Wal-Mart -- notorious for refusing to sell "objectionable" material sells dictionaries with these sorts of words included. The whole thing is bizarre, and again makes you wonder what Apple is accomplishing with its app review process, other than pissing people off. Update: Apple has responded and explained its side of the story. They're claiming it wasn't censorship, so much as an issue of timing. The app did have what Apple felt were offensive words/definitions, and asked the developer to wait until parental controls had been turned on for the iPhone. The developer then chose to block those words to try to get the app launched prior to parental controls being in place. Fair enough... but it still seems odd that Apple should be able to object to any definitions. It's a dictionary, based on Wiktionary.org... which anyone can visit with their browser. Still, this is one of the first times we've actually seen Apple respond to one of these stories. So that's progress...
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