5000 Sex-based iPhone Apps Removed, Are These the New Rules?


Chillifresh, who first sent TiPb word of their Wobble iBoobs app being removed from the App Store due to what Apple termed its "sexual content" has followed up with another blog post, now claiming 5000 apps have been removed and presenting what they say are the new App Store rules:

  1. No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)
  2. No images of men in bikinis! (I didn’t ask about Ice Skating tights for men)
  3. No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)
  4. No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs (yes – I am serious, we have to remove the silhouette in this pic)
  5. No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex – all banned
  6. Nothing that can be sexually arousing!! (I doubt many people could get aroused with the pic above but those puritanical guys at Apple must get off on pretty mundane things to find Wobble “overtly sexual!)
  7. No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but …)

Apple has already commented to TiPb that they took action following customer complaints over objectionable contents, and our readers have been split between "good on Apple, we don't want to see that in the App Store" and "shame on Apple, we should be able to decide for ourselves" camp.

Apple does present parental controls for the App Store, but they currently lack sophistication enough to handle situations like this. For example, because Apple tags any app that provided unfettered access to the internet as 17+ ('cause there's violence and porn on them there webs), enabling that parental control wouldn't just kill sexy apps, it would kill any app with an embedded WebView (like all Twitter apps -- see Tweetie 1.3 rejection).

This isn't the first time Apple has removed apps for content first, figured out ways to re-introduce them later either -- many developers went through this before, prior to parental controls in iPhone 3.0. (And after, when some nudity briefly slipped into the App Store, only to be promptly removed).

Again, it's conceivable Apple will provide more granular parental controls in iPhone 4.0, perhaps even create an opt-in "adult-but-not-porn" category. It's that or Web App-only land.

This is what happens when a company like Apple (or Walmart, or Blockbuster) chooses to curate content in their store -- they become divided between serving the "family friendly" vs. "freedom to choose" customer bases, and the developers who get caught in between. (And we sympathize with those developers, who must feel trapped in a giant pit with a blind, startled T-Rex at times like these).

Let us know what you think of those guidelines above, and what you'd like to see Apple do to better serve all their customers and their developers.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

5000 Sex-based iPhone Apps Removed, Are These the New Rules?


You can kill other people in iPhone games, but you can't see a bit of naked skin. That would be too dangerous for kids! This is hypocrite!

Don't compare to walmart and blockbuster. That isn't fair. Why? If I want to buy something walmart doesn't sell, guess what I do? I GO TO ANOTHER STORE. Where are the other app stores? Oh wait, Apple controls the iPhone and won't let us get apps from anywhere else. They've even gone so far as to suggest that jailbroken app stores might be illegal. Apple has a monopoly on iPhone apps. Walmart does NOT have a monopoly on retail sales. Big difference. Apple is saying "you can't have this." Walmart is saying "you can't get this here."

It's a good thing, there won't be so many horn dogs walking around with their iPhone. No more are you happy to see me or are you looking at hotties on your iPhone.

I said that here a long time ago. Society is warped and twisted for thinking something we all have (our bodies) is offensive, but something most of us would never do (shoot and kill others) is entertainment.
Idiocy, plain and simple.

@IPim: This Looks like an ironic exaggeration of the american Society and Entertainment Industry...

Yeah. If these are the rules, let's get Playboy, SI Swimsuit, and other big names off the store too! Come on Apple. If your on one side of the fence, go all the way and stop allowing some offensive stuff and saying no to others. Just reject and remove IT ALL.

Apple the hypocrite, they do all this and yet we still have Playboy and Sports Illustrated up. This company has fallen greatly ever since the introduction of the app store.

Kind of concerned over this. I'm sick of seeing all these types of apps, but you see, I actually possess the ability to ignore them. :) If people want these types of apps, good for them. It's not my job or Apple's job to police what people do with their devices or what they want to load. If people don't want to see this junk, then Apple should allow easy filtering. Simple as that. Probably going anti-Apple on my next phone. This App Store crap is just scary.

Lets be clear on what is and isn't allowed according to Apple. Gun apps? Fine. Games that involve killing, drug dealing? Fine. Lottery Apps, so, gambling? Fine.
Skin? No. Unless of course you are Playboy or Sports Illustrated. Then its okay. Hypocrisy sure is grand.
They should have just created a separate section for the pictures of boobs apps anyway. Its own option in the restrictions, done. People get choice, Can 'protect' the children with a simple swipe of the finger in options. Little Johnny wont be distracted from running people over in GTA by boobs, and everyone is happy.

I think it is perfectly fine. Just like I'm fine with my local supermarket not having sexual content on public display.
And I wouldn't mind Apple banning content depicting violence for entertaintment purposes as well. Would be grand getting rid of some crappy games in the FPS genre.
I also wouldn't mind if they opened a separate 18 AppStore which could contain stuff like this, along with apps for online betting and gambling using real money through in app purchasing.

Something tells me that the jailbreaking community just grew by 150%.
Seriously, I'm sick of seeing all the "seeeexy Asian grrrls!!" apps, but this is ridiculous. It's like fighting the web 1.0 pr0n wars all over again. And we know how that ended up.

I think it's a good thing. The only people I could see this bothering are the ones that get off on this kind of thing, or the kids who can't watch the stuff on their computers at home. The apps are a waist of space. If you want sexual content, go get it off the web, It's not that serious.

Good thing you don't run the app store. Let's ban everything that isn't geared for children while we are at it. To be honest if people are worried of what their children may see, perhaps people should be better parents in general. Maybe llittle Johnny shouldn't have an iPhone yet. And if you are a grown adult and you have an issue with some of the apps you need to mature to the point where you can accept others interests and ignore it if you don't like it. It's not that hard people.

I personally feel this is a good move. Sick to the back teeth with browsing through the store and finding lots of apps that are nothing more then a collection of photos in a slideshow. Totally uninventive and unimaginative, and frankly useless. Novelty apps like Wobble though should remain, albeit with the sexual references removed - I don't think it needs visual hints as to what you COULD do with the app! I guarantee it's the first and foremost thought in any hot blooded males brain...pants! It's also the fact that the aforementioned waste of bandwidth apps reflect poorly and negatively on Apple as a business.

Freedom to choose. Apple is a private organization so they can choose to do whatever they want. I don't agree with the choices in this case, but it is their app store. If Apple wants to make this decision the best way to protest it is not give them your money. Don't buy the new iPhone, jailbreak your phone (which should not be illegal. No different than modding your car) and take your money elsewhere. I have really enjoyed my iPhone but if I don't like what apple does with it I may take my money to google.

Uporn and other sites have full on hardcore porn movies. There is every flavor you can get through Safari. I don't get why people get so worked up about a stupid game to see boobs jiggle. I'm glad it and the others are out.
There is all levels of adult martial from words, pictures, and video available.

I think Apple should have had a clear policy from the start. Now they are changing minds at this point makes them look like they have no spine.
Personally I thought the overload of sex apps were junking up the app store.
Remember there will always be a sex app called Safari.

THANK YOU!!!! I for one did not want these programs always availible and my kids to mess around with them. I raised them well and I can see on my account that they do not. But what about the 1000's of others with iTouch? They needed to set ratings so we can block content or remove them completely. I would prefer the other for fair commerce, but this option is fine.

Only developers from any old Joe-Schmo company has to worry about whether their apps will be around. SI and playboy apps, even though they show plenty of skin will never worry about Apple touching them, Apple wouldn't dare pull a legitimate big company like theirs but could care less about the small time developers

No problems here, good work Apple. The way geeks carry on about "rights" to access porn sometimes, staggers me ; I think some of them need to get a life.

I would love to see one of the devs sue apple for removing their bikini app and not the SI one!!
But really I am somewhat happy about this. I hated all the Asian pictures all over the app store, but WILL miss Wobble. My buddies, and even my girlfriend loved this app. That is the one app I would love to see back. If it is broken in the next update I will be soo pissed.

Any of us that can remember their teenage years can attest that no amount of censorship/controls will ever prevent a horny teen from finding stuff to fap to. Honestly, the stuff on the app store is tame compared to all the other stuff out there that you can access anyway if you own an iPhone (or ever use the internet); maybe your child is better off looking at bikini pictures than searching around the internet for God knows what. And if it's true that Apple isn't removing the SI/Playboy apps, this move is just retarded.

Why the big deal if you want porn get it off of safari . Not that I tried but thier are even video porn sites just for iPhone . People complain over stupid things .

I'm a 100% sex and porn positive guy, married to a former Las Vegas stripper. I'm NOT gonna miss seeing these cheesy retarded sex apps clearly aimed at cheesy retarded men. There are a MILLION ways in life to get access to great porn, the App Store doesn't have to be one of them.

Considering the banning of apps from the store recently, I was very very surprised to see Sex Positions Game - 18+ appear in my appsniper list of new releases 3 hours ago. And its available in the store right now. The app icon is a silhouette of a woman holding her panties out to one side... Which is apparently not allowed, and surely a app about sex positions would be in the overtly sexual camp?
I gotta wonder if Apple knows its arse from its elbow.

We fight for our freedom to choose as consumers but what about apple's freedom to choose?
Our right must not be violated but who cares about apple's right?
Who is more hybocrate?

I find fart apps very offensive. I wish Apple would ban those too (although the app store would slip back to under 100,000 apps).

See! That proves my point. Even Wordpress filters out the slang word for flatulance!

What singles Apple out (and makes them a target)is that they have the guts to follow through with their ethical position. Also, it's probably a good business decision (being seen to be doing something), as all those parents out there umming and arrring about which phone to buy their kids might be swayed by this sort of policy, and those who want p0rn will just search it via the browser (its not like anyone would sell their iphone because they cant get adult oriented apps).

@Frog - That's the problem, it's not just about "porn" (if you can even get a clear definition of that, which you can't). We're talking about ANY SKIN is a problem? Or bikinis (hilarious they asked about burkas)? I guess we won't be watching Olympic figure skating highlights? And the the fact that they aren't even consistent about those stupid rules by allowing Playboy, SI, and others to remain. There's all kinds of problems with this beyond just "we don't want porn in our store".

I am so proud of Apple's new approach. As someone concerned about protecting my marriage and raising my children to treat women with honor and respect, this is a "hallelujah" decision.

@Rene: Until Apple exposes all of the iPhone APIs to websites (which they won't and can't), web apps aren't a competitor to anything. If web apps were the be-all-end-all, we wouldn't have apps... remember back in the day when Apple tried to convince us 3rd party apps were unnecessary because we would have tons of killer web apps? Well now, we have almost every popular website out there releasing iPhone app equivilent of their websites instead!
Make no mistake, I'm not pro-porn. I wish I didn't have to sift through 300 "boob" apps to find what I'm looking for. But the solution isn't to remove them all, the solution is to improve their POS app store. Searching and filtering is horrible at best. I can search for "fart" and get tons of these dumb apps yet "-fart" doesn't do any filtering, it returns the same apps! Let ME filter things out. I don't need Apple to tell me what I do and don't want.
But, if Apple is going to be our morality police, why is it just porn? (and I think the term "porn" on a device that doesn't allow nudity is a huge stretch, what we're terming "porn" here would be no worse than what you see at the checkout lines at a grocery store!) Search for marijuana. You get people trying to use their iPhones as gram scales, you get people with unit measurement converters, etc. Search for tobacco and you get a smoking simulator, an app that's description includes "once you smoke, you get your own world" (among other pro-smoking quotes). Search for alcohol and you get beer pong games, how to mix drinks, etc. Oh and there's language. Search for the FML official app and you get an app that shows a screen shot with the f-word in it.
Depending on who you ask, some/all of those things I mentioned are worse than seeing a girl in a swimsuit. Why is the only moral issue Apple is concerned about is women wearing a little less than some would consider appropriate? We're not talking about nudity, we're not talking about sex. We're talking about women in bikinis... come on!

@dman -- I'm not championing Apple or Web Apps, I'm pointing out that Apple seems to be positioning Web Apps as the unregulated alternative to the App Store.

Kudos to Apple for doing this. I dare say that a good majority of App store buyers are kids. They don't need the temptation of checking out or even buying this crap. I was beginning to become alarmed at some of the apps showing up in the "Featured" and "Top 25" categories. Yes I have enabled he parental controls on my son's iPod Touch but I'm sure there are thousands of kids who have a Touch who's parents wouldn't even know how turn it on let alone enable parental controls on it. I'm sure Apple came to the realization of the liability they opened themselves up to when excepting this crap into the app store. Whether they really care about kids seeing this stuff or not, they don't want to get sued and risk getting the bad publicity it would cause for their business. Good job Apple!

Hmm, its been a while since I heard of lawsuit against apple. I'm no lawyer but I'm curious to know if they can be sued for this. The apps that got pulled are following the same rules that Playboy and Sports illustrated follows so why did they get pulled? Let Apple tell them what they are doing differently than what Playboy and SI are doing and they will fix it to remain. Not that I care if they stay or go but if your going to follow the new rules you made, you follow through with what you said. Its all or none, no exceptions.
@Jack, we don't mind about apple's ability to choose, but if they are choosing to do this, they need to do it to all apps that violate the rules. It is hypocritical for them to say yah, you get ban for breaking these rules....oh..what? That playboy and SI app, yeah don't mind them, they get special privileges.

First of all this stuff is protected under first admendment freedom of speech. Two unless your kids are raised in a little town with no Internet and no other people around kids are goin to learn about sex in elementary school from other kids. Three in Europe thEy allow nudity on tv. We in America need to stop being politically correct and stop letting relgion influencing people decisions. Hello back to our founding fathers separation of church and state. That is why the us is screwed up everybody has a stick up their ass. You have one life live it happily. Apple just needs a better parental control system but like everything else kids find a way

I'm glad Apple made this decision to ban skin apps. They are choosing morality over a bigger paycheck.

@Danielinvegas: hate to brake this to ya, but the first ammendment protects against the government abridging your right to free
speech. A private business can still kick you out. Example, you start complaining againt a company on their property. The company disagrees with your view, and bans you from their property. You can
still protest, just not on their peropety.
Apple apparently does not support these apps on the iPhone or the AppStore, so they are blocking/removing it. Their choice, their right, they are a private buisneas. The iBoob devs can still make their apps, just not on the Apple AppStore. Go make it on Android or Palm Pre. What's that? Android or Palm don't have the same install base? Oh boo hoo. The PS3 doesn't have the same install base ase the Wii, but u don't see developers pissing their pants over it. GET OVER YOURSELVES.

The reason why Playboy and Sports Illustrated not banned? IPad. Apple wants PB and SI to have subscriptions and they know they will get alot of people getting these two app when they remove these cheap softcore sexy apps. Well that's my theory anyway

"Skin" apps may be a stupid waste of time, but unilaterally killing companies with ill-defined, arbitrarily decided, and inconsistently applied "rules" after those companies made their investments will eventually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs for Apple.

Apple got this one right. I didn't buy an iPhone so I could have portable porn and I don't really think anyone else did either.

Apple can't present itself as a wholesome, family friendly company (see the above article about the recent advertisements) and have an unclear status on the existence of soft porn in the app store. Anyone, who (1) can talk, and (2) has money, can buy an iTunes gift card at Best Buy and use it to purchase apps, music, videos, e-books, or games. Parents don't want to think consciously about the fact that the iPod Touch and the $50 iTunes gift card they just gave their 13 year old son is the perfect vehicle for their child to establish for himself the habit of paying for soft porn. At least a third of the most popular games are purchased by parents to amuse their young children. Besides, the best source of racy content is the internet itself, and everyone already knows that and deals with it. Apple is making a clear and accurate judgment that if they run afoul of anyone over selling anyone all kinds of officially age-rated content in the U.S., it would be over the sale of soft porn.

I would say this is not just about porn (well, it was not really porn they wiped out; lots of mainstream ad is more porn than those apps were). Scary thing is: they can change rules whenever they want and by any reason they want.
But on the other hand: its their shop and they do what they want, if you don't like go elsewhere. Right?!

this article isn't directed at sexual content (even though it was mentioned over and over) it's all about the freedom of choice. granted, we don't want kids with iPhones seeing porn and sexual content on their phone, so make a separate part of the store for it. simple as that. when you first get your iPhone, don't you have to input some data( like your birthday) on it? I don't own an iPhone and I will never own one.

I'm in full support of Apple taking the cr@p off of the app store. Most of the internet is already clogged up with this garbage. Can we have one place on the internet that is free from it? Also, a previous poster suggested an "adult" version of the app store. Thats not such a bad idea. I'm suprised how many of you complain about the app store. I think its fabulous. Have you ever checked out BlackBerry "App World"? You will appreciate the app store, even without "porn", much more if you do.

Hi! I'm a university student, and we've created a survey for a project we have. It's about navigation systems for iPhone. If YOU HAVE an iPhone OR WANT TO BUY ONE, it would be a great help for us if you could answer these few questions.
Thank you!! : ) http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SHKQYTR

Thank God they're taking this crap out of the app store. If you loser pervs want to wank over a girl out of your league, go buy a dvd.

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