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Censorship Media (Apple) Apple

Apple's Schiller Responds To iPhone Dictionary App Fiasco 200

beef curtains writes "Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, responded by e-mail to a blog post discussing Apple's rejection of a dictionary app. If Schiller's e-mail is to be believed, it offers an interesting perspective on this whole issue. He said, 'The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting or objectionable. ... The Ninjawords developer then decided to filter some offensive terms in the Ninjawords application and resubmit it for approval for distribution in the App Store before parental controls were implemented. Apple did not ask the developer to censor any content in Ninjawords, the developer decided to do that themselves in order to get to market faster. ... 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.' PC World has an article summarizing the drama-to-date, the blog post, and Schiller's response."
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Apple's Schiller Responds To iPhone Dictionary App Fiasco

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  • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:41PM (#28992163) Journal

    The problem with this is 2 things.

    1. He was given an either-or situation. Either self-censor the dictionary, including some helpful "examples" from the app store reviewer, OR wait an unknown period of time for Apple to implement a new rating level. Effectively, he was told he had to censor the app if he wanted it in the app store in any foreseeable timeframe.

    2. The specific examples the developer quoted as being objected to by the reviewer included 'standard' swear words, and not just so-called 'urban slang' that Phil mentions in his response. And these exact same words are already in existing dictionary apps in the app store, with MUCH lower rating levels ( is rated 4+, and includes the specific example words the app reviewer listed).

  • Re:I don't get it... (Score:2, Informative)

    by thefringthing ( 1502177 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:52PM (#28992239)
    Technically, a dictionary lists the definitions of words. It assumes you already know how to spell them.
  • Re:Nothing new (Score:2, Informative)

    by mattack2 ( 1165421 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:56PM (#28992273)

    Go to any elementary school and you'll see student dictionaries, which are essentially the same thing.

  • Re:Cause and Effect (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:08PM (#28992345)

    OK, let's all read the summary before modding this one up - the developer chose to censor the words so that they could get the app up before Apple could get parental controls implemented. Shiller states that the words were more objectionable than common swear words, and so needed to fall into the 17+ category. The developer could have waited for parental controls to be implemented, or they could choose to filter the most objectionable terms manually - there was a clear way forward in both cases.

    Whether or not the dictionary truly contains words worthy of an NC-17 is a separate argument.

  • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:08PM (#28992349)

    No, the difference between "student dictionaries" and regular dictionaries is not primarily one of cenorship. The difference is in expected educational level of the user - the definitions are simplified, the technical pronunciations are replaced with easy to follow examples, etc. Sure, most slang terms aren't included, but that's far from the primary difference as it was here with Apple.

  • Re:Nothing new (Score:2, Informative)

    by chromatic ( 9471 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:48PM (#28992681) Homepage

    Until King James, bibles were written in Latin....

    Except for the work of people such as John Wycliffe and Martin Luther, for example, both of whom preceded James I of England.

  • by e9th ( 652576 ) <> on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:04PM (#28992763)

    Safety is a tyrant's tool; no one can oppose safety.

    Aren't your post and your sig at odds with each other?

  • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Informative)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:05PM (#28992767)

    What you're missing is that the Unabridged dictionary in the local library isn't NC17 and has all the "bad words" that led Apple to refuse the app. Anyone can use it as long as they can turn a page or read. No, wait, I take that back. If you cannot do either, any librarian will help you if you are visually or physically disabled regardless of age.

    Also, you can browse the Urban Dictionary from any iPhone, as it is on the web.

    I find it disheartening that anyone would classify a whole dictionary as "adult only" because it contains the word "screw"


  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:36PM (#28992947)

    Lamely replying to myself: Yes, you can get Shakespeare for your iPhone from the App Store [].

    Misogyny, racism, torture, obscenity, cannibalism... And for all of that, one of the outstanding pinnacles of Western culture.

    So what's the problem with a dictionary again?

  • WTF (Score:3, Informative)

    by mshaver ( 43970 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:09PM (#28993137)

    The full American Heritage Dictionary app has all of the seven deadly words (and more) stored on the ipod/iphone with audible pronunciation available with net access. Obviously there are different standards for different sources of apps.

  • Re:Back atcha (Score:3, Informative)

    by emj ( 15659 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @05:53AM (#28994855) Journal
    You can't answer calls with the SDK on Android. Just saying android is at least 50% of those words.....

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"