Tech Police

10 Ridiculous iPhone Apps Banned by Apple

The company continues its control-freak tendencies. Matt DeLuca finds 10 apps rejected by the App Store.

Though Americans may not manufacture the iPhones they use, they’ve proved infinitely inventive when it comes to mass-producing apps, creating them for every purpose from losing weight to basting a turkey. Apple announced in December that more than 100 million apps had been downloaded from the App Store in the preceding year, with more than 500,000 individual apps offered.

Which doesn’t mean Apple lets developers upload whatever apps they like. Quite the opposite, in fact. Every year, there are scores of apps that don’t make the grade or that violate Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, which reserve the company’s right to reject apps deemed explicit, insensitive, or otherwise unacceptable. Some apps are dismissed without explanation. The Daily Beast rounds up 10 apps you won’t be using anytime soon.

Driver’s License

After being available for two years at the App Store, this app got yanked when Sen. Bob Casey protested it. Though the free app only made a mockup using state templates and the iPhone owner’s photo, the Pennsylvania politician was worried that the fake licenses could be printed out and passed off as authentic. “I believe this application poses a threat to public safety and national security,” Casey wrote in a letter of protest to Apple. “National security systems depend on the trustworthiness of driver’s licenses.”

Buzzed

The Apple patrol flagged down a handful of apps that alerted drivers to police drunk-driving checkpoints after U.S. senators protested. Last March, four senators wrote a letter to Apple, Google, and Blackberry maker Research in Motion asking the companies to do away with apps that tipped off boozy smartphone owners to the DUI checkpoint around the next corner. There were a number of such apps available for the iPhone, including Buzzed, which provided drivers with the positions of officers lying in wait within 100 miles; a more local product like Tipsy provided alerts for drivers in the Los Angeles area. Apple and the two other companies decided to remove the apps from their respective online markets. Scofflaws, despair: Apple introduced some new rules to its App Store guidelines so that all future apps that “encourage and enable drunk driving will be rejected.”

Third Intifada

After initially allowing an app that had anti-Israeli video clips and stories, Apple took down this app. Intifada means “shaking off” in Arabic, and refers to two violent uprisings against Israel in 1987 and 2000. The app, which reportedly was linked to a website that had been involved in organizing violent resistance to Israel, caused Israel’s information minister to make a direct call to Steve Jobs so the Apple chief could pull the plug personally. He was just one of the outraged Israelis who protested the app, which they said was intended to incite violent action against Israel. Referring to a section of its guidelines that prohibits apps that are “offensive to large groups of people,” Apple agreed to remove the app.

Exodus International

This app prompted an online petition that gathered signatures demanding its removal. In 2011, Exodus International, a Christian ministry group that describes its mission on its website as “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality,” put out an app that was supposed to help “cure” gay behavior. Apple banned a similar app, the Manhattan Declaration, in 2010. The app was supposed to be a Christian manifesto on the importance of a heterosexual lifestyle.

Tawkon

Though the research isn’t conclusive, the World Health Organization now lists cellphones as a “carcinogenic hazard.” That seems to have been the concern on which Tawkon was hoping to capitalize. The app’s Israeli developers said it was capable of measuring the amount of radiation put out by a user’s iPhone, but the world may never know. The idea was squashed by Steve Jobs himself, according to Tawkon’s makers, with the Apple CEO reportedly saying in an email that he had “no interest” after the developers tried to appeal the decision.

Swearport

The website for this app bears a cartoon hand giving the middle finger and the promise that the app can teach the user to “swear in 50+ languages.” According to the site, it was banned for “crude and offensive content.” While The Daily Beast believes that kindness is the universal language, everyone can agree that there are sometimes occasions that call for a choice salty epithet. Connoisseurs of the vigorous vulgarism can still head over to the Android Marketplace, where the app is available. Swearport claims to offer 1,600 swear terms, making it easier than ever to curse like a local no matter where you roam.

Beauty Meter

Users of this app could upload pictures of themselves for critique by other app users, who awarded 1 to 5 stars in the categories of “face,” “body,” and “clothes.” Thoughtful analyses of users’ sartorial choices were in short supply, however, as plenty of the app’s users weren’t wearing enough to base a judgment on. The risqué uploads became a problem when an iPhone review site discovered that a nude photo of a 15-year-old girl had been viewed and rated by close to 5,000 of the app’s users. Apple quickly pulled the plug.  

I Am Rich

Having the latest smartphone is status symbol enough for most technophiles, but this app’s developers aspired to pick the pockets of a crowd that wanted everyone to know they had cash to burn. Available at the App Store in 2008 for $999.99, I Am Rich consisted of nothing more than a glowing red diamond that appeared on the iPhone’s screen. It was, in every conceivable sense of the word, useless. The app was approved by Apple at first but later removed. In the brief period when it was available, eight people, six of them in the United States and two in Europe, actually bought the pricey gimmick, netting a reported $5,600 for the developer and $2,400 for Apple.

WikiLeaks App

Want to browse once-classified government documents during your commute? An unofficial WikiLeaks app lasted just three days on the App Store after being released in December 2010, but not before 4,000 people downloaded it. The app gave access to the Twitter feed and website of the classified-documents publisher. Though the $1.99 app was reportedly unauthorized, its developer said that half of the proceeds from each sale were directed toward the organization. Apple said the app violated its developer guidelines. “Apps must comply with all local laws and may not put an individual or targeted group in harm’s way,” a spokesperson explained.

Obama Trampoline

Maybe the developers could slip this game in under Apple’s radar if they rebuilt it around Rick Santorum. Apple wasn’t having the first incarnation, though, which involved bouncing one of 18 politicians, Barack Obama and John McCain among them, on a trampoline in a cartoon Oval Office. Though the irreverence seems to have been bipartisan, and the CEO of the company that developed the app said that the game wasn’t intended to be disrespectful to any particular person, Apple turned it down. The company’s CEO may have been missing the point, however: according to PC Advisor, the game also included a pantless caricature of President Bill Clinton.