Apple censors iPhone dictionary app

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In another fascinating move by the App Store acceptance team (Motto: Lunch is tasty! Is that a butterfly? We like cake.) the Ninjawords pocket dictionary, a $2 app, has been given an 17+ rating after being censored by Apple. This ensures that tittering schoolboys won’t scroll through the app and discover bad words like “tits,” “micturition,” and “enough with this wanton disregard for your customer’s intelligence, Apple. Do you only hire barely literate, rule-cleaving sub-morons with no judgement skills to police your damned App Store?”

John “Tiny” Gruber interviewed the folks who made the app and writes:

But Ninjawords for iPhone suffers one humiliating flaw: it omits all the words deemed “objectionable” by Apple’s App Store reviewers, despite the fact that Ninjawords carries a 17+ rating.

Apple censored an English dictionary.

A dictionary. A reference book. For words contained in all reasonable dictionaries. For words contained in dictionaries that are used every day in elementary school libraries and classrooms.

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In fact, as this image attests, the OS X dictionary actually contains bad words including, but not limited to the f-bomb, the c-bomb, and the q-bomb.

In order to prevent accidental disclosure of bad words, the programming team was nice enough to require users to type in entire bad words in order to see them (“fuck” not “fuc”) – ensuring you can’t just flick through and find them – but that’s not nearly enough for Apple. No, the dictionary must be scoured of scurrilous talk.

After being rejected a first time, the programmers removed most of the bad words, missed one, and got rejected again. Finally, they took out all the words including ass, snatch, pussy, cock, and screw. Finally, after a long wait they got into the app store but on double-secret probation with a 17+ rating and warnings of potential objectionable content. As Gruber notes:

Apple requires you to be 17 years or older to purchase a censored dictionary that omits half the words Steve Jobs uses every day.

I’m so angry I’m going to call someone using the iPhone Google Voice app… oh wait.

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