Secret features pose threat to App Store rules | iLounge News

News

Secret features pose threat to App Store rules

Developers could potentially use hidden features to skirt Apple’s App Store rules, according to a new report. Citing iPhone developer Jelle Prins’ application Lyrics as an example, Wired reports that Apple may not have the ability to thoroughly test iPhone applications for secret features, exposing a potential loophole for developers to slide objectionable content and possibly even malicious code past the company’s watchdogs. Prins’ Lyrics app was originally rejected due to objectionable language in the lyrics of some songs, and was accepted only after Prins added a profanity filter. However, Prins hid the ability to turn the filter off in the app’s About page, letting users access the very content that got the app rejected in the first place.

“It’s almost impossible for Apple to see if there’s an Easter egg because they can’t really see the source code,” Prins said. “In theory a developer could make a simple Easter egg in their app and provide a user with whatever content they want.” Nullriver CEO Adam Dann expressed concern over the potential harm a wave of hidden content could cause, saying, “If people start putting in naked pictures of their ex-girlfriend as an Easter egg to get revenge, or something like that, that isn’t quite right[.] It has the potential to really mess things up for everybody.” iPhone forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski pointed out that hidden code could also potentially be used to invade a user’s privacy by secretly accessing the microphone, camera, or Address Book. “It’s not impossible to write code that looks innocent and acts innocent until you throw some kind of switch,” Zdziarski said. “It’s not hard to get that sort of thing past Apple…. It’s the equivalent of a doctor using a magnifying glass to try and find germs.”

« Photo of the Week: iPhone in Bali

Apple warns of static shock from iPod earphones »

Related Stories

Comments

1

Yes, it still amounts to a trust system.  Nobody has the manpower to be able to validate any application for any platform to this level of detail.

Now, once somebody does find and post about some secret thing in an app that violates Apple’s terms for iPhone/iPod Touch applications, that person/company can be expected to be screwed for all future applications.

Posted by dave on May 19, 2009 at 11:35 AM (PDT)

2

Let me get this straight, an app was rejected because it wrote some lyrics on the screen that contained profanity yet no doubt you could buy that same song that says the lyrics from the app store.

Sense, it makes none…

Posted by Ryan on May 19, 2009 at 12:36 PM (PDT)

3

>>Let me get this straight, an app was rejected because it wrote some >>lyrics on the screen that contained profanity yet no doubt you could >>buy that same song that says the lyrics from the app store.’

No, you cannot buy that same song that says the lyrics from the app store. You can buy it from the iTunes MUSIC store, as that is covered under standard music ratings.

Sense, developers apparently have none.

Posted by Mr. Simpson on May 19, 2009 at 12:42 PM (PDT)

4

Yeah, I mistakenly said app store when I meant itunes in general.

I like how we can buy a song that talks about anal rape yet we can’t have an app that writes a vulgar word on the screen when it is simply writing the words from the same song.

Posted by Ryan on May 19, 2009 at 1:45 PM (PDT)

5

Apple already has a check where it verifies that you want to allow an application to access your location data.  They can expand those checks to other sensitive data if necessary.

Posted by Eric on May 19, 2009 at 2:25 PM (PDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy