Apple gets in a mucking fuddle over iPhone dictionary app

In the latest twist of Apple's confusing iPhone AppStore policies, one developer's dictionary application was rejected for "objectionable content". Why? It contained swear words.

In a blog post by John Gruber, technical writer and technology pundit, Gruber confirms Apple censored an English dictionary. Matchstick software, developers of Ninja Words - a "really fast" dictionary, first submitted their iPhone application on May 13; it was rejected two days later. According to Phil Crosby, one of Ninjawords's developers, "Our app was crashing on the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0. We quickly fixed this issue and resubmitted."

Matchstick did not hear from Apple again until May 30 when Apple rejected the application for "objectionable content". Crosby says Apple provided screen shots of swear words found during a search. The words were only found when the AppStore reviewer explicitly searched for the words. For example, running a search for fuc would not suggest a swear word. Apple claimed "Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Later the developers were told on July 1 the app would need to be rated 17+ to make it into the AppStore. Ninjawords later appeared in the AppStore on July 13 requiring you to be 17 years or older to purchase a censored dictionary with a list of omitted swear words.

This instance further highlights the confusing policies that Apple uses to approve applications. One high profile application that was recently rejected was Google Voice, the FCC is currently investigating why this was rejected.

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64 Comments

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OK this is stupid on a whole new level, I swear to god (ha no pun intended but have I offended both Apple and religious people??) If those words are included in the Oxford English Dictionary then I don't see how Apple can justify this decision? This if passed to the FCC will surely add serious weight to them getting fined for controlling a market.

Wow, apple showing their true colors. next will be any news source that post anything bad about apple will be banned from being displayed or stored or used by anything apple... where does it stop?

Just another reason why I would never buy an iphone. Not only are they Nazis about the apps, but they're nonsensical Nazis at that. I bet they outsourced their approvals department.

I hate the randomness of the App Store approval process. They really need to be consistent. My Oxford Dictionary app has the f-word in it. Why did it get approved?

I just looked up the word "f**k" on the Dictionary Dashboard widget built into my MacBookPro which display a full definition in graphic detail.

OMG! I want a refund on my MacBookPro because it contains objectionable content!!! NOT!

Seriously, I don't understand why a developer can write any app for the Mac whether is duplicates existing functionality or not, but on the iPhone the very same developer has to work with no guidelines trying not to step on someone's toes.

Apple, why not let the market decide if a third party app is better than your own app and provide the same rules for content across both platforms? They are both MacOS X anyway.

They've been going downhill for the past couple months now. I think it was around the announcement of the stupid Shuffle headphones that things seemed to take a turn for the worst.

bob_c_b said,
Yes, the Neowin smear campaign is really working out well.

Stop crying and come to terms with the fact your beloved company isn't perfect.

Sethos said,
Stop crying and come to terms with the fact your beloved company isn't perfect.

Ahh Sethos who doesn't like ANYTHING.

bob_c_b said,
Ahh Sethos who doesn't like ANYTHING.

I'm not sure how that's in any way a rebuttal. It actually puts him in a more objective position.

Kirkburn said,
I'm not sure how that's in any way a rebuttal. It actually puts him in a more objective position.

Agree.

Kirkburn said,
I'm not sure how that's in any way a rebuttal. It actually puts him in a more objective position.

Only if you think anything he has to say adds to the discussion. Sethos, from my expreience with him, hates everything and has stated his mission is to be critical.

Now that is BS.

Dictionary.com's app has the word **** (and even ****, as well as many other 'bad words' ) in it and that was approved months ago.

necrosis said,
Now that is BS.

Dictionary.com's app has the word **** (and even ****, as well as many other 'bad words' ) in it and that was approved months ago.

Wow. The mods censored me censoring myself that has relevance to the topic at hand?

Neowin did you hire Apple's reviewers?

I think they should remove safari from the iPhone/iPod Touch.
I just searched for the f-word and it returned results containing the f-word. I find this to be objectionable content.

Callum M-R said,
I think they should remove safari from the iPhone/iPod Touch.
I just searched for the f-word and it returned results containing the f-word. I find this to be objectionable content.

I can look up porn on Mobile Safari. Surely this goes against their own approval system. Mobile Safari should be pulled from all iPhones/Ipods as it can potentially contain objectionable content!

Xilo said,

I can look up porn on Mobile Safari. Surely this goes against their own approval system. Mobile Safari should be pulled from all iPhones/Ipods as it can potentially contain objectionable content!

Not to mention what "objectionable material" can be found on youtube if you look for it lol.

Oh..wait..what if i *Speak* the "objectionable word" during the phone call...iPhone itself will be banned? (since it can transmit those words??) ..isnt it silly..

Well, we aren't allowed to swear on neowin, a site supposedly for adults. What does that tell you how some people treat swear words.

Apple, come on, you have got to be joking?

MtDewCodeRedFreak said,
Heh - Neowin even have a *cough* swear filter.

I know, this is so hypocritical, but then, what do you expect.

Callum M-R said,
This thread is colourful. Can we get a plain subscriber in here too please?

Happy to oblige - mine's orange.

Callum M-R said,
This thread is colourful. Can we get a plain subscriber in here too please?


How about a poo brown color. :P

Gosh.. lets look at this in a very weird way..

App Store = App Land
Government = Apple
Leadership Style = Communist!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Apple, we are well into the 21st century now.. the days when we use to bother about swear words are way gone.. for heavens sake.. GROW THE **** UP! honestly what are you so worried about? tsk tsk

M2Ys4U said,
Communism is an economical philosophy, not a leadership style.


I think he was looking for Dictatorship / totalitarianism

neufuse said,
I think he was looking for Dictatorship / totalitarianism

indeed. people need to stop throwing around words without understanding them. 'liberal' gets the same kind of misuse (mostly in america)

I guess barteh must have used a swear word. Sorry mate, no swear words here. Is the neowin server running as an app on the iPhone, that would make sense.

No swear word from me. just using the word above. Yet the editor is allowed to use mucking fuddle to circumvent the filter here?

six of one....

barteh said,
No swear word from me. just using the word above. Yet the editor is allowed to use mucking fuddle to circumvent the filter here?

six of one....

Yes, because they are Neowin. Anyway, lighten up.