Phil Schiller Comments on 'Ninjawords Dictionary' iPhone App Rejection

Yesterday, we reported on Daring Fireball's coverage of Apple's lengthy approval process for the Ninjawords Dictionary iPhone application that ultimately resulted in the application not only receiving a "17+" age rating but also having removed a number of "objectionable" words, including some with non-objectionable definitions, from the application.

In a follow-up post, Daring Fireball's John Gruber reports that he received a detailed e-mail from Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller explaining the situation. Briefly, Apple's App Store approval staff objected to the presence of a number of vulgar "urban slang" terms that appeared in the application upon its initial submission in May and recommended that the developers resubmit their application after iPhone OS 3.0 was released so that it could carry a "17+" rating and be subject to 3.0's Parental Controls. Rather than choosing that route (as iPhone OS 3.0 had no known ship date at that time), the developers opted to press ahead in advance of Parental Controls implementation and stripped "objectionable" content from the application itself. Schiller wrote:

You are correct that the Ninjawords application should not have needed to be censored while also receiving a 17+ rating, but that was a result of the developers' actions, not Apple's. I believe that the Apple app review team's original recommendation to the developer to submit the Ninjawords application, without censoring it, to the App Store once parental controls was implemented would have been the best course of action for all; Wiktionary.org is an open, ever-changing resource and filtering the content does not seem reasonable or necessary.

Gruber reports that Ninjawords Dictionary's developers agree with Schiller's assertions, noting that they did wish to push ahead with the application's launch by whatever means necessary instead of waiting for Parental Controls to be launched in iPhone OS 3.0.

Gruber does, however, point out that Apple should do a better job of applying reasonable uniform standards and communicating with developers looking for clarification on or appealing reviewers' decisions. In particular, the dictionary entries Apple specifically objected to in Ninjawords' rejection notice did not include the so called "urban slang" that Schiller references, and if Apple's reviewers had found other examples of "urban slang" that it felt pushed the application to a "17+" rating, those specific objectionable terms should have been communicated to the developer.

Schiller's closing comments to Gruber lay out Apple's goals for the App Store and acknowledges that while the process is not always perfect, Apple is working to fix those errors and deliver the best experience possible for all parties.

Apple's goals remain aligned with customers and developers -- to create an innovative applications platform on the iPhone and iPod touch and to assist many developers in making as much great software as possible for the iPhone App Store. While we may not always be perfect in our execution of that goal, our efforts are always made with the best intentions, and if we err we intend to learn and quickly improve.

Related Forum: iPhone

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
apple music

Apple Increases Apple Music Subscription Price for Students in Several Countries

Sunday May 22, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Apple has silently increased the price of its Apple Music subscription for college students in several countries, with the company emailing students informing them their subscription would be slightly increasing in price moving forward. The price change is not widespread and, based on MacRumors' findings, will impact Apple Music student subscribers in but not limited to Australia, the...
EA Apple Maybe Feature

Apple Reportedly Talked With Electronic Arts About Potential Acquisition

Monday May 23, 2022 10:58 am PDT by
Apple is one of several companies that have held talks with Electronic Arts (EA) about a potential purchase, according to a new report from Puck. EA has spoken to several "potential suitors," including Apple, Amazon, and Disney as it looks for a merger arrangement. Apple and the other companies declined to comment, and the status of the talks is not known at this time, but Apple does have an ...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...