Apple sinks lower, approving Baby Shaker, Poop the World apps

Apple continued to lower its standards for acceptable App Store content this week with the approval of two new applications, one designed to simulate violent, life-threatening acts on an infant. The object of Baby Shaker from Sikalosoft is to stop the crying of a baby pictured on screen by shaking the iPhone or iPod touch, until the crying stops and two red “x” marks appear over its eyes. Jennipher Dickens, whose son Christopher was injured by being shaken by his father, told Cnet, “As a mother of a child who was violently shaken at 7 weeks old, causing a severe brain injury, and the founder of a national organization for Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention (as well as the communications director for a national organization helping children with brain injuries), I don’t have to tell you how much this horrifies me!!!”

Update: Baby Shaker was removed from the iTunes Store shortly following the publication of this story.

Meanwhile, the scatalogical Poop the World from SWS Digital is designed to let iPhone and iPod touch users share details of their bowel movements, including time, place, consistency, and smell, with other users across the globe. Users are encouraged to select from one of 20 shapes that best approximate their most recent output, then a scent from a long list of possible smells. Details, including location, are then uploaded to SWS’ servers, allowing other users to track the details. Promoted by the developer with toilet paper rolls that feature the App Store logo, the app even offers trophies to users who accomplish set “goals.” Poop the World and Baby Shaker are available now from the App Store and sell for $2 and $1, respectively.

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  1. Apple are probably letting more apps through in order to get a ‘1 billion apps in the store’ announcement. It’s getting ridiculous how bad the apps are becoming though, this being one such example.

  2. @Ryan – I totally agree. That’s the problem with the digital marketplace as a whole. In the real world, products like these would never even make it to store shelves. And on the off chance that one made it through, it would be pulled – or at the very least never ordered again – because of poor sales.

    Now the digital marketplace is more like an archive of every idea anyone’s ever had. Perhaps Apple should consider an “App Graveyard” of apps that don’t perform well, based on some level of criteria.

    All these kinds of apps do is get in the way when I’m trying to browse through a bazillion others.

  3. I think the biggest problem with the app store, is that unlike normal stores there is no market feedback to remove products from the store. IE, bad products don’t ever get removed if the consumer just plain doesn’t want it.
    I think the easiest way to allow the marketplace to self-regulate in this manner would be to implement a market based removal system. X months after an app goes on sale, the app must have had at least Y number of downloads (maybe Y is dependent on app category) otherwise it gets removed, this removal process happens every X months so that apps that the market no longer deems worth a download are removed from the store. If a developer doesn’t want their app to be removed, they would need to find a way to continuously attract new users just like a normal marketplace.
    Right now its easy for a developer to create a program and then hope that over the next several years they get enough $1 downloads to makeup for the development cost, if the apps were removed if they weren’t getting enough purchases, some of that residuals affect would be lessened
    Apple could “archive” the apps so that they are removed from the iTunes storefront but could be redownloaded in case the user needs to restore it.

  4. I’m amazed at how many people want to censor the app store. (This means you, John Larkin) How exactly is a fart app “demeaning?” Since when do YOU get to decide for EVERYONE how much value an app has for “the betterment of humanity?” You are entitled to your opinion, but nobody is forcing you to download these apps.

    Seems to me that if you don’t like an app, DON”T DOWNLOAD IT!!!! I mean come on…as much as I hate the “puerile and trite” American Idol, I would never say that it should not be allowed to be shown on tv. I show my disapproval by not watching it.

    The issue of searching for apps in an increasingly cluttered app store is a legitimate one. However, I think it is a problem that could be better resolved through improved search parameters, instead of “I think that is in poor taste, so it must be removed to suit my own particular bias.” They used to have a link for the newest paid and free apps added to the store. I wish they hadn’t removed it.

    For the record, I think the baby shaker app is lame, but that doesn’t mean it should be censored. In a free society, we must tolerate unpopular opinions (or in this case, apps)…

    Just my 2 cents.

  5. The bottom line for me is that the proliferation of meaningless apps have soured me on even looking at the App Store on iTunes — there are simply too many senseless apps to wade through. I bought lots of apps in the beginning, but have given up at this point.

  6. Jimmy Y has part of the issue – the overabundance of useless, pointless, DUMB apps cluttering the App Store makes it irritating to use. I don’t have tons of time to find good, useful apps or good games, and am tired of wading through piles of ridiculous crap like Poop The World, iFart, etc. If Apple could create a “Useless App Store” and shuffle those off there, I’d be happy. They can exist and I can ignore them. I rely on app-sites to direct me to the good ones. That’s annoying and sad.

    The other part of the problem is that these apps make the Iphone/Touch look like a joke. They get a lot of attention in the media and make it look like what most people do with the Iphone/Touch is pointless and ridiculous. This, I am sure, is not the way Apple wants the world to see these devices, especially given the tone of the commercials showing very good apps. We all know incredible apps are out there, but for those who don’t have either device, and may be on the fence, seeing all this attention devoted to Baby Shaker, Poop The World, and a ton of fart-related apps makes it look like it may be a very immature device. The Iphone and Touch come across as oriented toward simple-minded, childish idiots.

  7. Guns don’t kill people…people kill people!

    Is that not in the same vane? The admittedly idiotic apps do not make the iPhone/Touch look idiotic. Computers have had senseless dribble for years. It doesn’t make them a less productive machine. The internet is littered with pure crap. Does that mean the general populace thinks it is completely crap? No. Most reasonable people know that these are useful tools if that is what you are looking for. If you are looking for mindless fart jokes…well, there is plenty of that to be had as well. Let the downloading public decide what is worthy. If it is truly worthless, people will stop downloading it. In time, Apple will start weeding out the garbage apps. You have to realize that the App Store is still new. It is growing at an alarming rate, but it is still in it’s infancy. Changes will be made as numbers are solidified.

  8. Danstigator:

    Look- I’m all about free speech, but come on… that Baby Shaking App is ridiculous. Not just ’cause I’m a (relatively) new Father, but because it’s sick. Developer wants to make a baby-shaking game? Then with their own money and financial resources (not the App Store’s SDK) get some dolls made in China that stop crying when you shake them too hard and then die. They won’t sell, the developer will have lost all their investment money, but freedom of expression will have played out. Don’t clog the store with this garbage. It’s not like fart apps – I have no problem with those, and in fact would buy one if they could just make them sound convincing – I like playing jokes. But ANY app that essentially condones the forcible shaking, and eventual silencing (by death) of a baby is plain sick. What’s next – drag the Negro behind the car? Slap the turrets syndrome child in the head till they stop? Pin the feather on the Indian? All are equally as offensive and have NO place on a “professional” company’s web store. Exercise freedom of speech elsewhere.

  9. @Mr. Simpson
    Apple gets 30% of all proceeds from apps sold through the App Store. They don’t publish paid apps as a favour to developers. “Too bad there’s no IQ test for responding to articles, eh?” Yup

  10. I object to all of these people saying that apps should be removed from the App Store because they are “useless.” “Useless” is a relative term, Tom. The $119.00 “Anesthesiology Constellation All-in-one” App is absolutely “USELESS” to ME because I am not in the medical field. Does that mean I have a right to demand that it be removed from the App Store because it doesn’t suit MY needs?

    I also don’t see how crappy apps (and there are plenty) make the iphone/touch look like a joke. Does anyone blame Sony televisions because most of the programming on TV is garbage? Device and content exist independently of each other even if Apple does host the content store.

    The iphone and touch are NOT childish devices regardless of how an individual chooses to use them. The fact that they are flexible enough to fulfill the needs of a wide range of people is testament to the greatness of these devices. Personally. I couldn’t care less what other people think about my iphone and the apps I have on it. It is a brilliant device and I love it for how I can customize it to fit my life and personality. If I choose to act immaturely by making my iphone fart, then that is my right. If I choose to use my iphone to conduct business, or learn something, then that is also my right.

    Why do so many people (wrongly) believe that they have the right to decide what is best for “everybody?”

  11. Warren Piece
    was gives you the right so say what is and was is not offensive, what also gives you the right to say what people should think. While I don’t like the baby shaking app, I would show my dislike by not downloading it.

  12. Warren-

    I completely agree with you that the Baby-Shaking app is “sick” and I most certainly would never be “entertained” by something like this. I don’t want anyone to think that by defending free speech, I am condoning or approving the content of that app in any way.

    However, there is a serious problem when you start saying things like, “I’m all for free speech, just not yours.” Now, I’m not accusing you of trying to stifle my speech, but clearly you have a problem with free speech (in the form of an app) you don’t agree with. There are a lot of tasteless and offensive things in this world, (many of them much worse than that app), but tolerating unpopular or unpleasant ideas is the cost of freedom.

    I’m sorry, but with all due respect, “Exercise freedom of speech elsewhere” is anti-American, plain and simple.

  13. #1 – the developer’s are charging money for these apps, not Apple.
    #2 – Letting more apps into the store does nothing for the 1 billion downloads announcement. There are no where near 1 billion apps in the store – downloads are different. Too bad there’s no IQ test for responding to articles, eh? 🙂

  14. A significant number of the apps reach below the lowest common denominator in terms of their benefit to the betterment of humanity. I wonder how Apple employees can approve apps that generate ‘farts’ and others of a similar demeaning ilk.

    Surely Apple can raise the bar.

    Whether it is the developers or Apple (who take their cut) who are charging for the apps is not an issue. A significant number of the apps reflect poorly on Apple in my opinion. In my opinion the fart, girlie and even a significant number of the games appear to be puerile and trite.

    Mr Simpson, I felt you were a little ‘harsh’ on Ryan in your comment. Probably just an oversight on Ryan’s part as he responded to the article.

    Perhaps our EQ should be tested prior to responding to an article, eh? Let’s team up and create an app that can test our IQ and our EQ. You never know, it may just make that one billion download mark.

    Cheers, John

  15. Danstigator, how are you? I believe in free speech and freedom of expression but I also believe in the dignity and positive growth of humanity. Freedom of speech comes with responsibilities. Does freedom of speech equate with the freedom to offend and the freedom to insult? What does being American or otherwise have to do with it? Freedom of speech is not an exclusive construct of any single culture.

    Perhaps I should have written that apps such as “Baby Shaker” and the various fart apps and the like dehumanise. Why are valuable human resources being wasted developing such apps?

    Jimmy Y and Tom are right. There are a significant number of useless apps and they do clutter the App store and they do inflict harm on the Apple brand and the iPhone brand itself. Apple has always equated with high quality. Many of the apps do not equate with high quality. It is annoying to trawl through the app store and be surprised by the frivolous apps and the poor human-computer interface design of many.

    Danstigator, have you tried the Relax with Andrew Johnson ~ Deep Relaxation app?

  16. Why do people not understand that the all-too-sacred freedom of speech does NOT apply to a private corporation that can freely determine the parameters of its software offerings? We are not talking about a state actor here, folks. Apple made a decision many months ago to remove certain reggae songs from the music store due to bigoted, anti-homosexual content. It was met with the same plaintive whining about censorship, which has no merit in the context of this kind of debate. What is “un-American” is failing to understand the limitations and applications of the First Amendment, and then caterwauling about it being breached by the likes of Apple.

    I have no quarrel with the decision to remove Baby Shaker. One man’s erroneous view of this as censorship is another man’s correct view of it as being socially responsible. Apple hasn’t built its generally excellent reputation on shirking social responsibility.

  17. Flippy,

    I hope you feel better about yourself now that you ‘pity’ me (the reactionary). Personal attacks always make your point stronger. You could try yelling too…

    Now, on to the relevant issues…

    John Larkin and I were able to have a civil and polite discussion that never turned personal. In fact, his last comment thanked me for making some good points, and I would like to return the thanks to him for maintaining a polite and open dialogue. It is always a pleasure have a discussion with an open minded person who actually listens to what you say and responds appropriately.

    On the other hand…

    There were no comments made by me stating that Apple should not withdraw this app from the store. In fact, no posters on this thread suggested that. So if not me, and not other posters, then who exactly were you responding to? A strawman?

    As I’ve already stated, the anti-american comment was not directed at John Larkin, it was directed at Warren’s comment to “exercise free speech elsewhere.” which is a statement that goes against the basic freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. There is nothing ‘contradictory’ about my stating this at all.

    As for posters trying to impose their sense of decency… There were several posters declaring that ‘useless’ apps should be removed. Who gets to decide what apps are useless? Likewise, how are people (i.e Warren) demanding that an app is removed because it is ‘sick’ not trying to impose their morality on others?

    My final point is this:

    Apple runs the app store and can do whatever they feel is in their best interest. Nobody here denys that. As for apps that Apple does approve, if you don’t like them, DON”T DOWNLOAD THEM! Just don’t say they should be removed because they are ‘junk’, or ‘offensive’ and make your searches more inconvenient. Somebody else could just as easily say that the apps you want to download are cluttering up their searches. I wonder how many people who are outraged by this app were equally outraged by the SAW movies (I-V) and the Hostel movies which all depict graphic displays of human torture and murder. As I recall, nobody was criticizing (en masse) Loews Theaters for putting out this ‘offensive’ material and demanding that they stop showing it. Where is all the outrage? There wasn’t any because the filmmakers have a right to make offensive movies and we, the people, have the freedom to choose to view them (or not).

    If the real issue (and it seems to be) is that the app store is becoming so inundated with apps that finding what you are looking for is becoming increasing difficult, then why don’t we address that problem? If you could find exactly what you wanted quickly and easily, would you really care about all the stupid/offensive/lame apps that nobody wants?

  18. Hello John,

    I agree that freedom of speech comes with responsibility. The Supreme court established the “Clear and Present Danger” test to ensure that an individual exercising his/her freedom of speech does not pose substantial risk of harm to others. The court has also determined that the freedom to insult others is protected under free speech (People v. Larry Flint).

    My main point was that if you don’t like it, don’t download it. Human dignity will not suffer because some developer made a stupid app that nobody will buy anyway.

    The ‘anti-american’ comment was aimed at Warren’s statement to “exercise freedom of speech elsewhere”. Of course other cultures have freedom of speech, I was just saying that his statement goes against the Constitution.

    Now on to Mr. Flippy…

    Sir, I think you need to read the post more carefully before you comment on things like ‘plaintive whining’ and call me ‘un-american’.

    I NEVER said anything about Apple pulling the app from the store. That is NOT what the free speech debate was about AT ALL. My complaint was with posters claiming that THEIR sense of ‘decency’ should be applied to everybody. I never made any comments or complaints at all about Apple and I don’t begrudge their decision to remove the app (from a business perspective). What I don’t like is people telling me that I have to conform to what THEY think is ‘acceptable’ or ‘decent’.

    Next time, try to pay attention, ok?

    By the way, FWIW, the last time I checked, Apple was a publicly traded corporation, not a private one.

  19. Danstigator,

    You are clearly a reactionary, and for that you have my pity. I am fully cognizant of what the comments on this board were, and because you have a clear tendency to knee-jerk, you assumed incorrectly that all my commentary was a direct response to yours. It was not, and I think you need to read the post more carefully before you comment on things like “pay[ing] attention.”

    Yes, Apple is publicly traded but it is not a state actor, so from a legal standpoint it is not engaging in censorship. The point is that its management and business judgment are vested in those under its employ. Apple’s day-to-day whims are not controlled by the public at large, and with good reason. You may very well understand this, but it’s apparent from the comments that are often posted on ilounge.com that some folks blur this distinction or do not grasp it whatsoever.

    Now, lest I leave the main point of your savvy rejoinder astray, let me emphasize that no poster appeared to be trying to apply a sense of decency to everybody. Some effused criticism of the decision, but others found it to be a responsible decision. Not once did John Larkin purport to ascribe his particular values to everyone, but he did correctly suggest that these app decisions can’t be viewed in a vacuum. You have to not only look at what’s “right” or “moral,” but also consider the potential harm to Apple’s reputation and the damage to the goodwill that it has cultivated in the free market. Look at this very headline: “Apple Sinks Lower…” suggests that the company has abandoned principles, and so even though this questionable app is not produced by Apple, the fact that the company disseminates it freely makes it the easiest target and most culpable party.

    That you perceived Mr. Larkin’s comments as a means of suggesting that you or anyone else conform to a specific value system is off base, in my view. I think it’s perfectly fine for the App Store to peddle silly, even profane materiel, but this clearly goes beyond the pale and tiptoes into an area where Apple rightly does not want to wander. The crux of your criticism is that when John Larkin stated his support of the decision to remove “Baby Shaker,” it was tantamount to hammering home his own values. And I simply don’t think you can make that leap, so you’ll have to understand why I view this as reactionary posting.

    Love the decision or hate the decision, sure. But taking one’s opinion and running it into the ground as somehow un-American is more than a little contradictory.

  20. I should clarify my above post to add that Apple is not engaging in “illicit” censorship in ferreting out bad apps. Clearly, they are controlling the content that they offer, but this is no different than Wal-Mart refusing to sell CDs with explicit lyrics or Arby’s refusing to sell hot dogs. These are business decisions, made solely for the purpose of ensuring the company’s fiscal health.

    And Danstigator, forgive me if my posts take an acrid tone, but even as liberal-minded as I may be, I tire of the constant griping about one “forcing” a particular opinion or view on another. I just did not see Mr. Larkin as Rev. Larkin, if you will, and it struck me as odd that you were so hasty to jump on him for a fairly innocuous post.

  21. honestly this is such a stupid conversation. anyone who gets upset and feels the need to retaliate in a message board has some kind of ego. haha i mean, put your two cents in and be done. I find it comical how people can get so defensive. all this american and un american stuff has nothing to do with anything. whether someone is right or wrong, people don’t need to be rude.. ie “Next time, try to pay attention, ok?”
    come on.. nobody likes a spongebob smartypants hahah

  22. oops, i didn’t see there was another page of posts. sorry hehhe. noww it looks like ppl are being more respectful 🙂

  23. Melanie,

    I’m not sure I understand where you are coming from…

    So, you’re saying that I’m the bad guy because I believe in defending freedom of speech. When someone says, “Exercise free speech elsewhere”, they are in fact, denying free speech. Despite the fact that this sentiment completely contradicts the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, I’m the one who is rude and egotistical. Apparently, it’s not rude and egotistical to demand that an app be removed because an individual finds it in poor taste, but it is rude and egotistical to argue against that point of view.

    I’m sorry that the issue of freedom is of so little importance to you. Haha. Perhaps you don’t mind having your opinions misrepresented, but I do. This is why I felt the need to respond to some of the posts on this thread that put words into my mouth that I didn’t say. If you had taken the time to post a comment and then other people totally misrepresented what you had said, I think you might want the other parties to “pay a little bit more attention” to what you had actually said as well.

    If you believe that the conversation was so stupid, why did you bother to get involved? Haha. I mean, it is certainly your right, but if you really feel that way, why bother?

    My 2 cents. haha

  24. Melanie,

    Sorry, I didn’t see your second comment before I posted.

    I know I can come off as ‘intense’ but I am passionate about freedom and I have encountered way too many people who think that they have the right to decide for others what is appropriate and what is not. Perhaps I should have called this “Un-Democratic” instead of “Un-American.” Sorry for the confusion.

    Please accept my apology if I have misrepresented anything you have said.

    Ok, so now it is 4 cents. haha

  25. Thanks for the reply Danstigator. It is appreciated. You make a good point. I remember reading about the Larry Flint case in Rolling Stone.

    It just occurred to me how fortunate it is that we are all able to correspond and share our views on these matters. This is a good thing. Hats off to iLounge for providing the chance to respond and greetings to one and all. I have to sign off now.

    Cheers, John

  26. Apple is a “professional” company… they can make there devices any way they like as long as its legal.

    Therefore if they feel they need to remove an app because people are unhappy, they may.

    we are talking about “free speech” in a different sense. Is it legal to swear at work or say offensive things to anyone? Yes, but think about this for a second… apple wants to make money and do whatever is possible for there best interest. they can design how the apps will work because well, they created the app concept/store for the iphone. this has nothing to do with free speech. It’s not like they’re regulating the internet. they’re regulating there OWN PRIVATE app store that they make available for the public to purchase from. PRIVATE though

    in this scenario, warren, while blunt is correct. ppl can take their freedom of speech elsewhere. they can propose apps to apple all they want though (by free speech).

    and in my own opinion i think the poop and fart apps are fine. the baby shake one is questionable to me just because it opens the door to other app makers to think its okay to make those type of apps. if it would ever get to THAT point, apple would be hurting anyway and not receiving much consumer acceptance.

  27. hehe its okay! i completely agree with what u say. plus, ppl (like myself) can sometimes be over sensitive. all u were doing was voicing your opinion haha. nothing wrong with that. if it didn’t get a little ‘intense’, it would be boring hahah. “un-american/undemocratic”, whatev. ppl shouldn’t be afraid to voice there opinion because they might offend others! if that were the case, i think life would be boring. thanks for the clarification

    <3 Melanie

  28. I think it is very sad that we all can’t agree that shaking a baby to death is so appalling that is goes beyond free speech. It is a serious tragedy that happens all the time in real life – ask your local police officer. This is bigger than letting “capitalism decide” on what is decent. It shows how desensitized our society is.

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