Apple doesn't like offensive apps – but offensive and pretty? Approved!


After Apple announced that roughly 98% of applications that came there way were being approved within 7 days, there was a lull in the barrage of App Store submission horror stories bombarding our inbox. We thought that perhaps Apple had figured things out on their end, and that everyone was just happy; alas, it seems like everyone was just waiting for something like Baby Shaker before they came out of the woodworks. Our inboxes are once again overflowing with tales of App Store tribulation.

For most of the denials we hear about, the reasoning behind the red light is blatantly obvious. Be it bodily fluids, naked ladies, or whatever else, there are just a few things that Apple won’t ever be cool with. These stories aren’t worth retelling. But today, one came in that gave us a laugh: after being denied twice for “objectionable content”, these app developers simply prettied things up a bit – and got approved.

A few weeks back, Alkali Media submitted CrudeBox. Now, as you could probably assume from the name, CrudeBox was intended for the maturest of audiences. It was a simple soundboard: one screen, 16 raunchy sound effects, and a volume slider. It’s not going to win any awards for its complexity, but it’s no worse than any of the countless other sound effect apps that litter the App Store.

Six days later, Apple lets them know it was a no-go:

We’ve reviewed CrudeBox and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains objectionable content and is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states:

“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.”

What exactly Apple considered obscene about the app was left unmentioned – just that there was something they weren’t going to let fly. So Alkali took it upon themselves to gauge what was offensive and hope for the best. They decided that one of the sounds, the sound of a moaning female, was the cause – so they nixed it. In its stead, they added the classic “Boing!” of a spring – we’ll let you figure out for yourself how that one fits in amongst the other nasty noises. They submitted it again.

A week later, they got the same e-mail again. Denied.

So they changed course. If changing the sounds wouldn’t do it, what if they simply made it look less offensive? There was nothing within the app that wouldn’t make the cut on Saturday Morning TV – but if they went over the top with the new look, would it outweigh whatever Apple was deeming offensive? And thus, PrudeBox was born.

Same application, same sounds. Instead of the buttons being slimy green blobs, they became golden sunflowers. The black background was replaced with a sunset, and a bunny was added to the volume slider. The “Wet Fart” button became “Big Toot”, “Sneeze” became “Ah-choo”, and “Vomit” became “Sicky”. The core of the application, the sound effects themselves, stayed the same. It was submitted again.

The application was approved.

Now lets get this straight: the sound of a “Big Toot” isn’t offensive – but the identical sound identified as “Wet Fart” is? Or are the words they used originally what made it offensive? Immature? Sure. Offensive? Only to prudes.

With a simple change of facade, this application went from twice being labeled obscene to being on sale. This is the App Store equivalent of blurring out a middle finger or changing a swear word in a movie to something that makes absolutely no sense. You’re not changing the underlying content, and you’re not fooling anyone. You’re just making yourself look silly.

What do you think? Was the application offensive in the first place? Is the new one any less offensive?