Apple's review process has plagued developers for nearly a decade. When the App Store first launched in 2008, Apple wouldn't allow fart apps on its devices. Joel Comm, a developer who had been sitting on an app called iFart, was annoyed. "The fact that they weren't explicit about what they would or wouldn't allow was burdensome," Comm told me on a phone call.
The uncertainty of getting an app approved keeps some developers away from Apple entirely.
a privately owned walled garden that affects how the more than 700 million iPhone users worldwide interact with their phones and consume information online.When Apple rejects an app like Metadata for example, it prevents Americans from learning about their government's covert military efforts abroad, which routinely kill more civilians than it wants to admit. When it chooses to reject fart apps or those that feature a specific meme frog, it imposes its own standard of decency upon its users. Apple tailors the App Store to meet not just its own tastes, however.
In Russia this year, Apple (and Google) complied when the government there requested they remove the LinkedIn app from their respective app stores. The order came after LinkedIn declined to relocate its data on Russian citizens to servers in the country.Apple doesn't provide data about the number of apps that governments have requested to be censored on a per country basis as part of its transparency report. The company is a "laggard when it comes to transparency and accountability," Rebecca MacKinnon, the director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at New America told me on a phone call."We're not aware that they've done any impact assessment as to how their policies and practices might be affecting freedom of expression," she explained. "The company is nowhere to be found when it comes to freedom of expression, they're just absent."Apple has also rejected apps that put its business in a bad light. In 2011, it rejected Phone Story, which examines the ugly side of producing and consuming smartphones. The next year, it removed A Permanent Slave, a game that explores the afterlife of seven real-life factory workers who committed suicide at Foxconn electronics plants in China, where many Apple products are made.
"The company is nowhere to be found when it comes to freedom of expression, they're just absent."