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

Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Wednesday June 19, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...
Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....