Apple Moves to Quash “Overtly Sexual” iPhone Apps

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Due to repeated and numerous customer complaints, and despite the fact that they seem to pretty regularly make their way into the top 25 and 50 lists of both free and paid apps, Apple decided this week to begin removing software from the App Store it deems “overtly sexual.”

News of the policy change comes via a letter sent to the developer of “Wobble iBoobs,” which informed them that under the new guidelines the app was determined to be inappropriate and would be removed. In the letter, Apple explained that the App Store policies are subject to change, and that it is “constantly refining” its definition of what’s deemed appropriate, based at least in part on user feedback.

TechCrunch received a copy of the email notifying Wobble iBoobs developers about the policy change and resulting removal of their app. Apple does note in the following excerpt that the ban is reversible:

We have decided to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store, which includes your application. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you believe you can make the necessary changes so that Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored) complies with our recent changes, we encourage you to do so and resubmit for review.

While a few other similarly-themed apps have been removed from the App Store, too, apparently in keeping with the new policy changes, some others remain, raising the question of what exactly Apple categorizes as “overtly sexual.” The top 25 and 50 lists appear to have been scrubbed pretty much clean, but some apps in the Entertainment category still seem pretty sexual to me. Hard to mistake the intent of the official “Playboy” app as anything but, for instance.

Though my gut reaction is to decry Apple for censoring something as relatively innocuous as sexually suggestive material (caveat: I’m a Canadian; we’re pretty okay with nudity and sex in general), I actually can’t help but be really pleased with the move as a regular App Store customer. As far as I’m concerned, the kind of novelty sexual app that Wobble iBoobs represents wasn’t doing much more than taking up valuable real estate in the App Store’s top downloads list, blocking spots that might otherwise be occupied by something useful I’d actually consider downloading.

Apparently, the apps were somewhat popular, since they managed to appear on those top lists with fair frequency, and Wobble iBoobs was downloaded more than 970,000 times during its App Store career. But if you feel the need to get your jollies on the iPhone (and I really can’t imagine why you would, for screen size issues alone), then take to the web and leave my App Store out of it. Mobile Safari’s right there, and I guarantee you’ll be much better served going that route anyway. Does anyone else see this as a change for the better, or am I alone here?

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