Technology

Unexpected iPhone apps rejections – Part 2

Visibility in Apple’s approval or rejection process for the App Store has become the white whale of many developers. In this second (and final) part of a series highlighting the first 18 applications to have been banned by Apple approvers, we will look at offerings that shockingly had to fight in order to be made available to customers using the iPhone. So let’s delve into the list of unexpected app rejections:

Text (SMS Messages)

The main challenge to the “Text” application was due, in large part to the fact that it was initially submitted as “SMS Messages”.

For every application that goes through the rigorous approval process at Apple, the first thing that is done is reviewing whether the functionality of the application is provided by an application that was previously approved. In the case of “SMS and MMS Messages”, the word “Messages” triggered all kinds of alerts as Mail had previously been approved. It was thus decided that any messages could be sent via email.

The developer resubmitted the application after removing MMS functionality, pointing out that this application would not be able to send pictures, thus not replicating mail functionality. The argument failed the appeal and the application was rejected again.

The approval only came when the developer resubmitted the application as “Text” describing it as an application that allowed a user to take notes, as long as he/she didn’t have to cut or paste anything. This was considered OK and the application got to green light.

Calendar

Calendar was another application that had multiple difficulties in getting approved. Initially called “Rendez-Vous” to evoke the French’s aesthetic design sometimes appreciated in certain corners of the Apple world, the application was rejected when it was discovered that Rendez-Vous had once been another Apple trademark.

The developer proceeded to resubmit that application as “Calendar”, figuring that the Microsoft-sounding name might pass some of the constraint of the fascist-like approval board. At that point, the application passed two thousands levels of sign-offs but, as it was about to get its last needed signature for approval, someone pointed out that a calendar could be used to schedule illicit behavior. This led to an immediate rejection.

It is unclear as to how the application was reinstated but the names Schmidt and Bohner appeared to have something to do with it. Our assumption is that those are top secret projects related to devices we have yet to hear about.

Camera and Photos

The Camera and Photos application ended up being submitted as part of the same package. Internal notes point to the fact that they are one and the same.

When first submitted as “iPhoto”, the application was quickly rejected because it reproduced functionality available in the Apple product line and infringed on an Apple trademark.

In order to increase his chances, the developer decided to cut the application in two and offer them as separate ones that would hopefully go to different app-rovers. Little did he know that all applications are treated equally in the world of Apple approvals and denials.

In the case of Camera, the application was initially rejected because it could be used to take pictures of future Apple products. After code was changed to ensure that the iPhone was explode if such pictures were taken, the Application was approved.

Photos was a little trickier. It was thought that “naughty pictures” could be stored using it, which make endanger the fragile nature of some iPod and iPhone customers. But after the developer explained that the limited space available on an iPod or iPhone would primarily be taken by illegally copied music, leaving little space to such naughty content, the application was approved.

YouTube

The primary product of YouTube is to show user generated content. But few people know that the initial YouTube application allowed users to upload videos of their cats to YouTube. Because that “upload” feature was included into the application, it was initially decided that it would endanger AT&T’s network, end the world as we know it, and probably destroy the very fiber of society. As a result, it is only natural that such application would initially be rejected.

Apple’s legal department stepped into the fray to help rescue this application based on the little known legal statute establishing the tattle doctrine. The legal department assumed that if the RIAA or MPAA were to come after them for the amount of illegal content they’ve enabled users to use without controls, they could always point out to YouTube as being even worse, therefore driving the RIAA or MPAA lawyers away for a long period of time (or at least until everyone in the world had bought an iPod and subsequently upgraded to an iPhone.)

Maps

Due to Apple’s close relationship with Google (at least, at the time), Maps was seen as an easy thing to implement. Not only would it demonstrate the greatness of the iPhone but it would also show developers that there were two classes of citizens in the Apple development community: those who have a market capitalization still north of Apple’s and are not named Microsoft, and everybody else. Members of the first class could initially have applications available on the device. Smelly developers (aka everyone else) could develop web applications. This only worked for the first release and eventually, Apple had to relent to offer the App store we’ve all come to know and love, freeing the Apple development from the shackles of… oh nevermind.

So back to the Maps. They were initially rejected because certain towns had names that cannot be repeated in polite conversation. After Austria and Pennsylvania were removed from the maps, the application was approved.

Stocks

This application was considered dangerous to many users as it might lead them to invest in companies other than Apple. Submitting the application, the developer figured that he would default choices to Apple and Google. The choice of Apple helped internal discussion but the application was initially rejected on other grounds, as can be attested by the following rejection letter:

We’ve reviewed your application Stocks. Because the stock market has been on a downward cycle and tends to make our users cry, we have determined that this application is of limited utility to the broad iPhone and iPod touch user community, and will not be published on the iPhone.
If you choose to provide additional features that utilize iPhone functionality while tending to the mental well-being of our customers, your application can be reconsidered for reinclusion on the iPhone deck after you resubmit a new binary to us.

After agreeing that the only stocks that can be listed in the application are stocks that go up, the application was approved.

Weather

Sometimes, the weather can get you into trouble. When the developer of this application submitted it, it was assumed that few things could be consider as plain and boring as the weather. The rejection came in less than an hour after the application was submitted. Here’s the text in full, with attributions being removed:

Thank you for submitting weather to the iPhone approval process. We’ve reviewed your application and determined that we cannot include this version of your iPhone application at this time because it contains objectionable content which is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states:

“Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

The objectionable content referenced in this email is the use of the words “Hot and Wet”. These words tend to appear in many salacious sites on the internet so we suspect that your application would fit into that cesspool. Since the app is already available on any iPhone, please make the necessary changes to the application as soon as possible, and resubmit your binary to us. Thank you

After many emails going back and forth, it was agreed that weather could be hot or humid but never at the same time.

Clock

Apple’s unfortunate history of collusion with terrorist was responsible for the rejection of the clock, because the timer function was felt to look too much like the timer on bombs in many Hollywood movies.

After ticking sound was removed from the application, it was approved.

Calculator

Deep in the heart of every iPod user is someone looking to hide collections of pictures you do not want to see. It has been documented that the iPod and iPhone calculators are really just secret doorways to Sodom and Gomorrah. Unbeknowst to the developer who initially submitted the innocuous (or is it?) calculator, the approver assumed that nothing as boring as a calculator would be included on an iPhone and that, therefore, it must be an application that nefariously hid its true intent. Since such intent was not specified, it could only be bad so the approver rejected the application.

As was the case for Calendar, it is unclear how Calculator ended up approved. Through what appears to be purely coincidences, any witnesses we tried to discuss this with died within seconds of agreeing to talk with us.

Notes

This one was caught into the unfortunate Snafu that allowed Text to be approved. As approvers assumed that Text was a notes taking application, due to the fiendish way in which its developer had managed approval, they just assumed that Notes was providing duplicate functionality and rejected it.

The application developer then resubmitted it, claiming it was a tool for making shopping list. That was enough to get it approved.

Settings

When this application was submitted, the iPod shuffle was a great success. It was thus decided that providing settings was “of limited use to iPod and iPhone users.”

However, when someone pointed out that this could be used to sell users ringtones from the iTunes store (and allow them to change them), it was approved.

iTunes and the App Store

Nah, just kidding on those two. They were always part of the phone and always approved. However, it is interesting to note that iTunes came first, followed by the App Store later. The initial application called “Send more money to Apple” was judged to have to lengthy a name.

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