Another new feature has surfaced in iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5 (though it appears to have been available in beta 4, I just discovered), and this one should come as welcome news to beleaguered and frustrated developers dealing with inappropriate content-based rejection. Parental controls are now available on the iPhone, just as was hinted recently in a rejection letter to the developer of Newspaper(s), a news aggregation app.
The new controls should also please Trent Reznor, who recently had a very high-profile and vocal (albeit one-sided) argument with Apple over their rejection of an update to his app for objectionable content. Much like Google’s Safe Search filtering, they allow iPhone owners to restrict the types of apps which are allowed to be installed on their iPhone. This means that poor little Johnny might soon have to go without Bikini Blast, for instance, if his parents get wise to the new features.
The settings appear in the restrictions menu under General Settings, and allow you to control what apps can be installed on the phone by their age restriction, which range from 4+ to 17+, as you can see from the screenshot. You can also allow any, and disallow all, a feature which might be useful for particularly sensitive corporate use. The ratings suggest that apps will each also be rated according to the same scale, and that whatever rating the app is assigned will automatically allow or disallow it according to the new content filter.
Another new “feature” being reported is the loss of 3G data connectivity for a small number of AT&T customers who have installed the new beta, so tread carefully. That warning comes straight from Apple, so consider yourself duly warned. No word on whether that extends to any international carriers, but so far, it seems not to. Let us know if you run into trouble.