Apple Bans Wi-Fi Stumbling Apps


Apple’s iron fist remains gripped around its App Store, where developers are discovering Apple is removing their WiFi stumbling applications

In a continuation of Apple’s controversial method of managing its App Store for the iPhone, the company decided to remove a variety of applications designed to find WiFi hotspots the device can connect to.

These “stumbling” apps run on a private application programming interface (API), which Apple has been known to reject in the past. Technology news site Softpedia reported the removal of WiFi stumbling apps after a developer contacted the site.

The developer of the WiFi-Where, iFiFoFum and yFy applications have had their products removed from the App Store, according to Softpedia. “It also appears that all other competing WiFi enabled apps have been removed as well,” the unnamed developer of WiFi-Where, who goes by the moniker “codemonkey57”, wrote in a blog post. “This is very unfortunate as the past 2-3 months have seen a handful of new WiFi apps get approved. Hopefully Apple will allow this functionality in a future SDK.”

The reports come on the heels of Apple’s decision to remove a slew of applications featuring potentially offensive or suggestive adult content. However, it has been rumored that Apple is considering an “Explicit” tab on the app store that would be limited to adults. According to Cult of Mac, which quoted an unnamed developer in a 24 Feb. posting, Apple introduced “Explicit” as a possible primary category for application submissions in its iTunes Connect system. That category has since disappeared, raising questions about whether Apple was testing the interface or decided to pull back after the news leaked.

In the case of the adult content apps, Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told Apple blog Macworld that as a policy the company reviews customer complaints about objectionable content. “If we find these apps contain inappropriate material we remove them and request the developer make any necessary changes in order to be distributed by Apple,” she said.

Apple has charted an impressive path to growth with its App Store; research firm IDC recently predicted the number of apps would grow to 300,000 by the end of 2011. With that growth, though, the company has courted controversy with its attempts to craft a fair culture of content regulation. In April 2009, Apple pulled a “Baby Shaker” app, which let users shake their iPhone in order to presumably kill a virtual infant, after protests from a number of groups. It followed that in May by yanking “Me So Holy,” which had attracted protests for its perceived religious insensitivity.

In addition to pulling apps in response to protests, Apple also began taking down programs by developers who allegedly posted false positive reviews, as it did in December when it removed 1,000 applications by Molinker. Apple’s stringency may increase as third-party developers begin creating programs for the company’s upcoming iPad tablet PC, which utilises the new iPhone SDK 3.2 beta.

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