Although device manufacturers and mobile operating systems engineers have gone out of their way to court mobile application developers, that doesn’t mean they’ll allow any application onto their stores. Over the past few years, the teams at Apple, Google, and Research in Motion have found themselves pulling applications off their mobile app markets that are deemed offensive or legally questionable. In this slideshow, we’ll look at some of the most notorious applications that were banned or removed from the big-name app stores.
Tawkon’s radiation detector
Plenty of apps get cold, impersonal rejections from the App Store, but Tawkon holds the distinction of getting a rejection directly from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Last summer, Tawkon founder Gil Friedlander emailed Jobs and pitched the app as an excellent way to allow users to “see the level of radiation they are exposed to from their mobile phone.” One week after the pitch, Jobs got around to replying with a two-word answer: “Not interested.” The good news is that you can still get this app on your jailbroken iPhone if you want to know how much radiation your iPhone is emitting at a given time.
No, Apple is typically not in the mood to let apps in its store promote competing platforms. The (very) short-lived iDroid iPhone application wasn’t all that elaborate, but the App Store overseers still whacked it. According to Tech Crunch, iDroid’s function was to “display the glowing red Droid eye” that “showed some marketing bullet points about the competing phone” if you tapped on it.
Exodus International’s “gay cure” app
While it’s unlikely that any iPhone app could ever successfully convert gay people to being straight, Apple did find this particular app offensive enough to boot it from the App Store. Exodus’ self-described mission is to “minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” and claims to be “the largest worldwide ministry to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.” An Apple spokesman said the company decided to ditch the app because it “violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.”
There was an app designed to offend just about everyone except wanton sadists! The app presented you with a poorly-drawn picture of a baby crying its little eyes out. To stop the baby’s wailing, you simply had to shake your phone until sizeable red X’s appeared over its eyes. This description simply doesn’t do the app’s offensiveness justice when you compare it to how developer Sikalosoft pitched it: “Babies are everywhere you don’t want them to be! They’re always distracting you from preparing for that big presentation at work with their incessant crying. Before Baby Shaker, there was nothing you could do about it.” So apparently, the application was targeted toward workaholic corporate sociopaths who hate children. Not exactly the world’s most loveable demographic.
WikiLeaks, a controversial whistleblower site that routinely posts classified documents online, has come under a lot of scrutiny from the United States government, which last year pressured Amazon to stop hosting WikiLeaks on its servers. Shortly after Amazon ditched the site, Apple kicked the site’s unofficial application from its App Store. An Apple spokeswoman told the New York Times that the company removed the app because “apps must comply with all local laws and may not put an individual or group in harm’s way.” WikiLeaks fans can still get access to multiple variations of WikiLeaks unofficial apps on the Android Market, however.