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Apple rejects bird chirp, search query apps over Internet content

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, July 13, 2009
News Categories: Apps + Games

Apple has rejected updates to two more applications—FastFinder from Bananas Design and Chirp! Bird Songs from Spiny Software—due to what the company considers to be an inappropriate rating based on the apps’ ability to connect to the Internet. FastFinder allows users to quickly query a variety of search engines and other services such as IMDB, Amazon.com, Facebook, and more, while Chirp! Bird Songs helps users to listen to, identify, and learn about different bird songs. In the former case, Apple argued that FastFinder “allows unfiltered access to the Internet, where content with mature or suggestive themes can be accessed;” it used the same argument to reject the Chirp! update due to its ability to connect to Wikipedia, according to an email from the developer. In both cases Apple said “[a]pplications must be rated accordingly for the highest level of content that the user is able to access,” suggesting the company may continue to reject applications offering Internet access until they raise their ratings. Both FastFinder and Chirp! Bird Songs had previously been accepted into the App Store with a 4+ rating, and are available in their current versions for $2 and $3, respectively.

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Comments

1

I wonder what the rating is for Safari? 21+ sadistic, graphic sex, violence, and other unmentionable obscenities?

Posted by jiji on July 13, 2009 at 7:11 AM (PDT)

2

As much as it pains me to agree with Apple on this one, I have to. The whole idea behind the ratings system is to allow parents to block access to apps that could gain them access to unsuitable material.

I agree with @jiji, that Safari should have the highest rating (21+, etc…) possible, but it can be blocked along with YouTube and others in the parental controls in the Settings app.

Other applications like FastFinder need to consider this and adjust it’s rating accordingly. If they manage to put filters into the app so that content that is appropriate for 4 year olds is all that can be found, then they can keep their 4+ rating. Otherwise, they need to let parents know that FastFinder could land children on unacceptable sites.

At least Apple isn’t rejecting the apps because of an icon that looks like an iPhone or such. It’s something that the developers can deal with. The ratings change probably won’t have that much of an affect on the overall sales of the apps.

Posted by Dave M. on July 13, 2009 at 7:33 AM (PDT)

3

This is getting ridiculous.

I think what apple needs to do is add another setting in “restrictions” called Internet. Something similar to the Website restrictions in Mac OS X’s Parental Controls, with the same three options:

1. Allow unrestricted access…
2. Try to limit access…
3. Allow access to only…

Then if an app tries to access the internet the iPhone/iPod OS can trap any connection that is deemed inappropriate, halt it, and then display an alert.

Problem solved. Chirp! can be 4+ again.

Posted by jay on July 13, 2009 at 7:40 AM (PDT)

4

Then why aren’t all the Twitter apps 18+?  And all the instant messaging apps, particularly any that let you transfer/view pictures?

And both Safari and Mail also give unrestricted access to the internet.

Posted by dave on July 13, 2009 at 10:59 AM (PDT)

5

<<At least Apple isn’t rejecting the apps because of an icon that looks like an iPhone or such.>>


Say what???!!!

Where have you been.

They’ve been rejecting for just that for quite some time now.

Posted by jon on July 13, 2009 at 12:05 PM (PDT)

6

Sorry @jon, that’s not what I meant to say. I just meant that it’s nice that we are not hearing about rejections due to icons and such anymore, or at least less. I’m well aware of Apple rejecting iPhone icons, stupid as it is. What really peeved me was when a program was rejected because it showed photos of people (for a phone dialing app) using what looked like polaroid pictures. Apparently, the folks at Polaroid wanted the software removed for that very reason. The developer had to change the graphics to look like generic pictures being taped to a cork board.

@dave, You have a great point. Why aren’t Twitter and other social networking apps set to 18+? We have already seen a rejection of one of the iphone twitter clients due to seeing ##### in the Trends list.

This just shows more than ever that there is a huge gap between different application reviewers at Apple, and that there needs to be something done to get them all on the same page.

Posted by Dave M. on July 13, 2009 at 2:05 PM (PDT)

7

Jay’s idea is a good one. (One of the options could even be: don’t allow ANY 3rd-party network access.)

There has to be SOME allowance for the fact that 3rd-party apps have no other system, beyond app age ratings, for filtering content and obeying the parental controls. As it stands, I can see how Apple might have to reject those apps, or else parental controls are an empty feature. (Which wouldn’t bother me… but I know people do expect to get the feature that was advertised.)

But simply rating all 3rd-party net-enabled apps adult-only is not the answer. Give them FAIR ratings, and allow parents to trust them or not as they see fit. Flick a switch in Settings and your dangerous bird app (along with all others) is no longer net-connected.

Posted by Nagromme on July 14, 2009 at 9:23 AM (PDT)

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