Apple Censors 'Ninjawords Dictionary' iPhone Application

Daring Fireball's John Gruber reports on the case of Ninjawords Dictionary [App Store, $1.99], a dictionary application for the iPhone based on Wiktionary offering a high-quality user experience and information content that was recently approved by Apple for inclusion in the App Store. Unfortunately, Apple's approval process for the application required several months and multiple rounds of refinement for the application, ultimately resulting the application carrying a "17+" age rating and also lacking a number of words deemed "objectionable" by Apple's reviewers.

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.

Gruber's lengthy post details the seemingly ridiculous hoops the application's developers jumped through to win Apple's approval, from adding the mature age rating to preventing "objectionable" words from appearing as suggestions for partial word matches when searching to finally removing the "objectionable" words entirely. A number of the words that Apple objected to and have been removed from the application also carry entirely non-objectionable definitions, and it is unclear why those entire entries were required to be removed instead of merely the offending definitions for those words.

Every time I think I've seen the most outrageous App Store rejection, I'm soon proven wrong. I can't imagine what it will take to top this one.

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