Sunday 19 November 2017

When Apple says no -- the controversial apps that are a touch too much . . .

Mark Barry

It was just too much for Apple. Last week, after a lengthy campaign, a new 'app' or application used on its phones and computers called Gay Cure was withdrawn from the iTunes store.

It had offered homosexuals advice on how to become heterosexual -- and the resulting storm of controversy eventually forced its withdrawal.

A US-based gay-rights group Truth Wins Out led the cries of disapproval, launching an online petition calling on the company to remove it, which it duly did after more than 150,000 signatures were gathered.

The app, which first became available in February, was the brainchild of Exodus International, a religious organisation which advocates prayer, abstinence and conversion therapy in its programme to remove homosexual tendencies.

With more than 350,000 available for Apple's iPhone4 and many more for its iPad, it's inevitable there will be the odd hot potato from time to time. Sometimes an app can go just a a little too far as this list of previously banned or abandoned apps has found.

Baby Shaker: Child welfare groups were apoplectic in 2009 when it emerged that Apple had approved this app. Baby Shaker featured a drawing of a crying baby, with a corresponding sound effect, and the object was to shake your iPhone until the baby calmed down. It vanished from iTunes within one week.

Me So Holy: Apple most likely pre-empted religious outrage by rejecting this app at the application stage. Me So Holy allowed individuals to superimpose their face over the religious figure of their choice.

Bang Bang: Anti-gun campaigners were agitated in 2009 by Bang Bang, which seeks to replicate the experience of gun use. The product description pledges to allow users to "experience the sweet release you can only get from a finely crafted firearm". For those so inclined, the app offers a 'gangsta edition'.

Slasher: Guns may be acceptable to Apple, but it appears that knives are not. This app was quickly withdrawn in 2008. As apps go, Slasher wasn't particularly elaborate, offering an image of a knife for an iPhone screen. When users shook their phone, presumably to mimic the slashing action, a few seconds of menacing music would be heard.

I Am Rich: Less controversial and more testimony to the sometimes inverse relationship between wealth and intelligence, I Am Rich offered little and delivered less, but crucially came with a hefty price tag -- €799.99. So the story goes, eight people actually bought this app before it was withdrawn by Apple in 2008. Those users received an app which, when launched, projected a glowing red gem on the view-screen.

Prohibition -- Dope Wars: The drug-dealing theme in this app was responsible for its removal from the app store. Acid, cocaine, PEP and heroin were among the illegal drugs users had to sell in this virtual scenario, with the objective being to make as much money as possible in the process.

Teen Torture: No, seriously. However, rather than providing useful tips for those ill-disposed towards teenagers, this was an inappropriately titled app designed to draw attention to high frequency sounds, usually heard only by younger people. When withdrawing it, developers felt the need to clarify that the name was conceived to attract attention, and not to condone or suggest torture.

iBoobs: This was turned away from the app store in 2008 due to its salacious content, even though there was no nudity. Enthusiasts were consoled by the arrival of Wobble to fill the void. This more tasteful alternative currently boasts the arrival of '3D Boobs' on its app store page.

iSlam Muhammad: Depicting images of the prophet Muhammad is about as provocative as comedy gets, so Apple may well have done comedian Emery Emery a favour when they pulled his app in May of last year. iSlam Muhammad also sought to highlight passages in the Koran which, it was claimed in the product description, encouraged the beheading of non-Muslims.

Roll Your Own: Offers tips, pictures and video tutorials designed to help users become skilled in the rolling and packing of cigarette/joint papers. There is speculation that the app may be removed from the iTunes store in the near future, with concerns over the basic content exacerbated by the use of images of Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a promotional context.

Freedom Time: Apple voiced concerns about political bias when rejecting this app, which counted down the final seconds, minutes, hours and days of George W Bush's second term as President of the United States of America. In rejecting the app, Apple stated that content "defaming, demeaning, or attacking" politicians was not considered appropriate for the app store.

iSnort: If you search the app store for iSnort, you will find an innocuous offering designed to measure snoring; however, there is another iSnort app out there, albeit not under the Apple umbrella. The other iSnort is far less innocent, simulating the process of sniffing cocaine by presenting white lines on the iPhone viewscreen, which the user than breaks up with a credit card and pretends to sniff.

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