Apple Boots out the Booty

In The Apple Soft Porn Store, I wrote about the standard of some of the content in the App Store. To reiterate, my main problem was not that these applications existed but rather that the parental controls available were not appropriately filtering them out of listings and search.

Today, TechCrunch reports that Apple has started pulling "overtly sexual" applications from the App Store. This is good news for anyone trying to deploy iPhone OS devices in an educational context.

I do feel a little uncomfortable that some developers have had the rug yanked out from under them. That said, if there was one kind of app that it was absolutely clear from day one that Apple looked down upon, it was "adult" apps. Steve Jobs said so on the day he announced the App Store. Why those rules haven't been enforced I'm not sure (I suspect lack of staff effort), but they are being enforced now.

Additionally, I just did a little check and iTunes (on the desktop) now hides the screenshots of apps whose ratings are above the level set in iTunes' parental controls. That was one of my main concerns in the earlier post and Apple has addressed this, which is great.

An unfortunate consequence of this, though, is that developers whose apps retrieve content from the web will all have their screenshots hidden. It's not my concern right now but, in the longer term, Apple needs to develop a way to distinguish between "Frequent/Intense {sexual,gambling, drug use,violent} content" and "accesses the internet".

I should add that I don't really claim personal credit for this. Apple's emails to developers cite "numerous customer complaints" which, I bet, outweigh my complaints 1000-to-1. Having said that, it was fairly clear that the App Store as it stood was inappropriate for use in schools and, with the launch of the iPad, I'm sure that's a market Apple want to target.