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Stupid App Store Decision of the Week – Dictionary App Censored


Just when Apple makes one fairly positive App Store move, then they hit us with another decision that clearly shows how ridiculous and badly broken the reviews non-process is. This decision is right up there in the Top 5 (easily) most incomprehensible App Store decisions ever. 

They ‘ve censored a dictionary app, called Ninjawords. For containing ‘objectionable ‘ words that ALL dictionaries contain “ and to put a little icing on the cake, they ‘ve still branded the app with a 17+ rating even after the developers filtered out a number of words Apple objected to.

The excellent Daring Fireball has the whole very pathetic story, but here ‘s just a little slice of it:

But Ninjawords for iPhone suffers one humiliating flaw: it omits all the words deemed ‘objectionable ‘ by Apple ‘s App Store reviewers, despite the fact that Ninjawords carries a 17+ rating.

Apple censored an English dictionary.

A dictionary. A reference book. For words contained in all reasonable dictionaries. For words contained in dictionaries that are used every day in elementary school libraries and classrooms.

And a point of comparison:

Even Walmart, notorious for its censorship of ‘objectionable ‘ music and movies, neither restricts nor places warning labels on dictionaries.

Here ‘s another example of how dumb this decision is:

The list of omitted words includes some which have utterly non-objectionable senses: ass, snatch, pussy, cock, and even screw. (Ass and cock appear throughout the King James Bible.)

Daring Fireball ‘s Jon Gruber offers a perfect sum-up of what this decision means:

Apple requires you to be 17 years or older to purchase a censored dictionary that omits half the words Steve Jobs uses every day.

Check out the whole horrible story “ including details of an interview with the developer of Ninjawords “ at Daring Fireball HERE.

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  • That is ridiculous. The ratings policy really makes no sense. Another oddity – Instapaper is rated 17+, but Read it Later is rated 4+. They have the same general functionality, and neither has any objectionable themes. Do they rate Mobile Safari as 17+? After all, some kid might got to a website with "mature" themes.

    • Ridiculous and makes no sense seem to be the middle names of the review 'process' as far as I can tell.

      I think the reason for the big difference on age rating between Instapaper and Read It Later is that Apple is letting developers set their own ratings, or at least that is my understanding. Seems to be working just great as well. 🙂

      • Brian

        This is beginning to really sicken me. I love the iPhone, but can't imagine developers are going to keep putting up with this very much longer. Doesn't matter how good your hardware is, the apps are what make it what it is. Whether they think the iPhone is superior or not, developers will move to other platforms if Apple continues to treat them with zero respect.

        Also, Patrick, developers are setting their own ratings. However, Apple is being just as ridiculous on that front. I have heard the author of Flowchat just received a notice from Apple saying his app is rated incorrectly and they need to change it immediately. Not only have they refused to give reasoning behind the request, but they have stated he must submit a new version of the app just to be able to change the rating. As testing has not been complete for his next version, he's not ready to release a new build.

        These are the kind of things I can't imagine developers are going to waste money and time dealing with for much longer. No matter how big their potential audience is. If the good developers switch platforms, the users will eventually follow.

  • I agree that the requirement that a new rating needs a full new build is stupid. Also completely agree that the platform / the apps are the key to the iPhone's ongoing success, and forcing developers away is a very worrying thing.

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