This is just getting ridiculous. John Gruber at Daring Fireball points to the latest example of an iPhone application being stymied by Apple's App Store approval process. In this case, it's a dictionary app called Ninjawords (so called because ninjas are "smart, accurate and really fast") that was rejected three times over the course of two months, mostly because 'objectionable' words could be looked up and found in the dictionary's search function, Gruber reported.
It almost seems like a parody of the byzantine process of getting an app past the guardians of the App store -- particularly when the popular Dictionary.com app can be searched for every swear word in the English language. Here's how it went down, according to Matchstick software's Phil Crosby, one of the developers of Ninjawords, as told to John Gruber.
The first version, submitted on 13 May, was rejected because it crashed when run on the iPhone 3.0 OS beta. Crosby said it was fixed and resubmitted before being rejected again weeks later because it contained vulgar language, that could "be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users".
It's been established that Apple is squeamish when it comes to so-called 'objectionable' content. Earlier this year an ebook app was rejected because it carried a link to a free archive version of The Kama Sutra.
Similarly, the Ninjawords app is a dictionary, a reference guide, where one has to actually look up the word in question to see it and be offended by it.
Matchstick apparently played ball and tried to remove as many offensive words as it could, according to Crosby. When it submitted the application again -- this time a whole new app, thus losing its place in the approval line -- it was again rebuffed because more words deemed inappropriate by App Store screeners were discovered by looking them up.
Eventually the application was approved, but scrubbed clean of objectionable words -- including words with unobjectionable uses, such as ass and pussy -- and even then it was slapped with a 17+ rating, which means it will be filtered out by OS 3.0's parental controls. Essentially, the message from Apple, or at least an overzealous App Store approval team, is that iPhone or iPod touch owners over 17 years old need to be told what kind of words they're allowed to look up on their Apple device.
Ninjawords Dictionary is available now to buy for £1.19 (iTunes link), while the far more offensive Dictionary.com Dictionary & Thesaurus -- suitable for those aged 4 and above, even though it reads your swear words out -- is free (iTunes link).