We're all very much aware of the App Store's attitude toward mature content on the iPhone, which is something we hoped would dissipate a little with the introduction of parental controls in the 3.0 software update.
In a controversial story, DaringFireball suggested this wasn't the case when it took a close look at Matchstick Software's submissions nightmare after trying to launch its dictionary application Ninjawords.
The application was originally submitted in May, and caused something of an outrage when it was apparently rejected for containing swear words (or more accurately, containing access to swear words). The recent report suggested Apple advised the developer that it would need to censor the application in order to meet with a successful approval.
However, upon seeing the report Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller decided to take a more personal interest. He investigated the submission of Ninjawords, and sent an immediate retort to DaringFireball.
"Apple did not censor the content in this developer’s application and Apple did not reject this developer’s application for including references to common swear words," Schiller begins.
"[Apple] suggested to the developer that they resubmit the application for approval once parental controls were implemented on the iPhone. The Ninjawords developer then decided to filter some offensive terms ... and resubmit it for approval ... before parental controls were implemented."
So what's the real story here? Initially, before 3.0, Apple said that it wasn't in the business of censorship, but that it wouldn't approve the application while it contains access to swear words and certain 'urban slang'. Technically not censorship, I suppose - just aggressive opinion corrections.
But its advice that the developer wait until parental controls were in place seems very reasonable, and the problems arose entirely from the developer's urgency to get its product out on to the App Store.
That a dictionary needs a 17+ rating is a triumph of political correctness over common sense (see Blackadder the Third for more details), but it's also reassuring to see that Apple's parental controls are allowing for plenty of much-needed wiggle room on the App Store.