Monday, March 8, 2010

The Great Apple App Purge

Mommy always knows what is best for her little angels, doesn't she?

Not long ago, Apple began banning iPhone apps containing content that it deemed “overtly sexual”. It's a highly hypocritical move considering that Safari, the native web browser still allows access to such material and tha Apple stated that it intends to leave apps from major publishers such as Playboy and Sports Illustrated untouched. You know, even Big Brother allowed the masses to have porn. If family friendliness is such an issue, install some better parental controls.

In addition to the culling of the sexy apps, a number of Wi-Fi scanners were also recently removed from the App Store, with Apple alleging that such apps relied on unpublished APIs within the iPhone OS software development kit, which would break the terms set forth by Apple for app developers. This one pisses me off to no end because Apple's native wi-fi finder is complete crap and, as an owner of an iPod Touch, I rely on wi-fi connections.

Apple has also started cracking down on submissions to the App Store that are just "basic applications", apps that are "little more than RSS feeds or glorified business cards" and apps that provide minimal functionality. So, apps like iFart and iQuack got the axe. Heaven help them if they remove Fart Piano, I might just have to go ballistic.

On the one hand, I can understand what Apple is doing. They're becoming like that Wal-Mart of applications by being family friendly and by clearing away what they see as clutter. On the other hand, however, this is a very clear case of taking control away from the consumer. Shouldn't the consumer be the one to decide which apps provide minimal or useless functions? Shouldn't the community be able to decide by voting with their wallets?

The sudden removal of these apps creates an even more troubling problem. What happens if I previously bought an app from the iTunes App Store that has now been banned? Sure, I still have the app installed on my iPod Touch, but I will no longer be able to receive updates. And, if I choose to update my iPhone OS to the next major revision I could very possibly lose the app completely. I could even lose the app if I have a major OS crash. This is akin to Bill Gates coming to my house at night and uninstalling an application on my computer simply because he created Windows.

And you can bet that there won't be any refunds for this.

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