iPhone Easter Eggs Could Kill App Store Golden Egg?


A billion apps. Developers getting rich. Apple making a bit of money. Or is it all just a house of cards ready to come tumbling down, with only one sneaky developer and a rule-breaking easter egg to blame?

See, the App Store has rules. You can't, for example, include porn in an application and expect it to get approved and hosted by Apple in the App Store. But lets say your app looks all sweet and interesting, gets approved by Apple, and then lets slip that with one little gesture or secret code -- porn. Or worse, malware or other malicious code.

Sound crazy? Wired (via Ars) tells us it's already happened, albeit with language in an app called Lyrics.

Seems the app had some language that caused Apple to reject it, so the dev applied a language filter to clean that **** up, but added in a stealthy way to swipe the About screen to re-enable it. Said developer Jelle Prins:

“It’s almost impossible for Apple to see if there’s an Easter egg because they can’t really see the source code. In theory a developer could make a simple Easter egg in their app and provide a user with whatever content they want.”

Until Apple reads that quote, begins scouring apps even more closely, maybe asking developers to submit the actual code base, and making current app approval delays look like the blink of an eye.

Geniuses the lot of you.

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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

iPhone Easter Eggs Could Kill App Store Golden Egg?


One bad egg ruins it for every one. Remind me not to buy the app "lyrics".
Perhaps it's good to alert apple to this weakness as we wouldn't want any malware on the iPhone. Isn't that right winmo?
Shut that shiit down!

WTF, they don't actually examine the code for hidden functionality? I'm shocked there isn't more stuff (for good or for evil) breaking the SDK rules.

Submit an app with malware or other code that causes damage and expect the wrath of Apple legal.
With something absurd like 68B in value, I'd steer clear of that stupid move.

Ha that's funny. I promised myself if I ever made an iPhone app, I would include an Easter egg that either recorded video or enabled flash, (possibly in an Easter egg web browser).

Doesn't the Touch OS have a kill switch for just this sort of thing? They can remove it from the App. Store and kill it on any phone that has it installed.
I don't think Jobs is losing sleep over this.

Does anyone know how to browse the app store? I can't believe how difficult and secret Apple has made it for anyone to just look and see what apps are offered for the i-phone. First I found out I had to download I-tunes, then Apple said I had to download Quicktime, which program IMO sucks, now I will have to replace. Then it still won't let me search for apps, or browse, just teases me with a few "best sellers." The app store web site is like a dog chasing its tail. What the hell is wrong with Apple that they don't allow anyone to know what's being offered for their toy? What is this, a secret? Is this a good marketing strategy?
Sorry to vent, I want to develop a unique app, but why waste my time if someone else already did it? And how can I find out how mnay competitors I would have?
I suppose there is a simple answer to this, I would appreciate it if someone can help me. Thanks!

Okay, foot-in-mouth disease again. I go to the itunes app to be able to browse through iphone apps. Well, that makes a lot of sense, yeah, right... Now i just have to get rid of Quicktime, probably pull down the whole house of cards...

If only apple would put ratings on applications similar to video games then this set of content issue could go away. Why should apple be the morals police?

Every iPhone / iPod touch game developer should budget for one or two Easter eggs. Even if it is something simple like a secret trophy, the blog postings you get about it are worth their weight in gold from a Marketing / SEO perspective. Just my opinion.