Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Struck Rejected From the App Store

David Farrier (via Hacker News):

“Nine rejections, on the basis of their guideline “4.3 Design - Spam.”

Offensively, this guideline groups astrology (“fortune telling” in their words) alongside “burp and fart apps” under the umbrella of “spam.”

And when we finally stripped out each astrology feature piece by piece as requested by the Apple employees we spoke to on the phone, we were met by backpedaling and new excuses that didn’t make sense.

Most recently, we were told dating apps aren’t being allowed despite the fact that (1) two Apple employees told us verbally that dating apps were acceptable and (2) we know of multiple dating apps that have been accepted over this timeframe, demonstrating an apparent bias against us specifically.”

Update (2020-09-08): David Farrier (in June, tweet):

We received a call from the App Review team this morning saying they were confused at how we did it, but that the decision (which had been standing for over a month and through 9 rounds of rejections) has been REVERSED!!

Good news, but it’s frustrating to never get a real explanation for these cases. Who knows whether a similar app submitted today would be accepted or rejected?

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

Grouping astrology alongside “burp and fart apps” sounds about right to me.

While I'm not a fan of such stuff, I find it very concerning that Apple thinks they have to protect their customers from these rather harmless topics. I'd be okay if Apple would say that they have no interested in featuring such an app. But right out refusing to list an app just because it doesn't meet their view of the world is just oil into the "Apple abuses their monopoly" fire.

The main line of argument taken by this article (tying astrology to minority identities and painting any and all opposition as misogyny) feels like the wrong one to have focused on.

Instead, drill down on how rejecting this basically harmless content is none of Apple's business to be doing.

If search and discovery worked on the App Store, then this wouldn't be a problem. I don't see Google out there telling people to quit creating astrology websites, because the web just can't handle another website with similar content to existing sites.

You may not think so, but this is a ban on religious and cultural apps. Just because some muppet in Cupertino thinks some cultural element is trite or “spam” doesn’t mean it is.

- In Japan and don’t know how to interpret your “blood type?”

- In the Middle East and don’t know which way Mecca is nor when to pray?

Want to read the Torah but not Jewish?

There won’t apps for that under these rules. Even fire first time or “out of ideas” developers.

Goodbye Bible/reference and as mentioned before direction/time prayer apps.

Everyone has their own culture and “superstitions.”

Do you honestly think that Apple is a “good and fair arbiter” by substituting their own?

Apple may have “diversity” in their workforce but their cultural depth and empathy to those outside that shiny expensive donut is near zero.

And it shows.

I'm sure if we ask women in science (get Ariel Waldman on the twitters, I don't really use the twitters anymore), they'll answer the same as the many vocal men: "Astrology is a grift *perpetrated on* women".

There are many thousands of Bible, Torah, Quran, Tao Te Ching apps on the App Store, and disappointingly, even I Ching, tarot, and astrology. Now, I think these are all also pernicious nonsense that is only used by con men to steal your money and control you, but at present they're not all banned.

What does seem to be banned is an open grift like using "astrology" to take money for matching people which will ruin lives. Apple's in the right.

>While I'm not a fan of such stuff, I find it very
>concerning that Apple thinks they have to protect
>their customers from these rather harmless topics

I don't think this is harmless, though. Women and/or minorities have been excluded from the scientific process ever since it has existed, and have often been actively targeted by it (examples include phrenology being used to justify racism, or the Tuskegee Study). As a result, trust in science is often low. This has actual negative effects on people's lives.

Apps like this one may be well-intentioned, but they perpetuate this systemic injustice against women and/or minorities, and even profit from it.

I do think that apps like this should be allowed into the App Store, but not because they are beneficial to anyone. Apple should allow apps like this into the App Store because there is no alternative to the App Store, and because similar apps targeting other demographics (e.g. bible apps) are allowed.

We had a local developer here in Philly whom submitted a "Genie Lamp" app and it took him 11 submissions to get in cause of similar issues.

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