Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
IKamasutra: Apple Hates Brunettes (ikamasutra.com)
355 points by varl on Apr 17, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 158 comments

Are we all going nuts nowadays? Really, to remove a product from your store (which also happens to be a monopolistic sales channel) after it was there for years and recieved several updates since without any dialog with the producer of the product is bad style, really bad style.

Especially if the producer is willing to change the product to fit your requirements.

Some time ago almost everyone agreed that Nokia failed also due to a lack of developers for Simbia, do you really think treating developers with a proven track record like that will do you any good?

I really hope that this issue is solved to the satisfaction of every party involved and the app will be back soon.

Ah, and finally, if this was due to the "sexual content" the only thing left to say is "brave new world". And that from a company that help to battle SOPA...

Sadly, developers are stuck with Apple being our app approval overlord - and Apple knows it.

There really isn't any competition in the app "market" because Apple is far too big to really allow for it. Any and all of these smart phone platforms need to be legislated to provide opportunity for different store fronts beyond the platform provider.

Apple really is the 21st century Microsoft.

Yep, and in Mountain Lion, it's coming to the desktop too.. I wouldn't be surprised if Safari can only load approved sites by default in 10.9 at this rate.

The problem "nowadays" (meaning, with business models like Apple's or Google's) is that common sense is an expensive commodity compared to the opportunity cost of making one arbitrary decision or another on an individual app.

And the legal system just hasn't yet caught up enough to keep them in check. They're the robber barons of our age.

The problem is that "app approval" does not scale well, for a very simple reason: it is hard. Applying guidelines like the ones Apple uses, requires a very skilled individual that is able to evaluate at the same time a set of rules in a flexible way, and really understand if the app is good for the apple store or not. You can do that if you have a team of 20. Finding 300 people doing this work very well is going to be very hard, and you need to pay more as this must be people that at the same time understand design, programming (if you read the rules thare are many that without understanding of software are hard to apply), and at the same time able to find a good balance between flexibility and severity. Not an easy task at all.

Maybe they could improve the process with the following schema:

* Instead of doing a single longer review, a few of your approval team will review the app briefly, and provide a score between 1 and 5 of "acceptability".

* If the score is 4 or 5, go forward. If the score is <= 3 send it to a more expert reviewer that will do an in depth analysis.

Optionally also discard the app if the average score is <= 1.5 if there are problems with the "load" of the experts.

In this case the crux of the problem is that they're deleting an app that's almost as old as the app store itself.

Curating content is almost impossible to do; app stores should limit their reviews to exclude:

- viruses

- blatant spam and copyright violations

and THAT'S IT. Assessing the quality of an app is what users' ratings are for (and of course excluding adult content is just childish).

Yes exactly! Could you imagine how far behind the Internet (and society) would be if any website you wanted to launch had to first be reviewed and assessed by Apple/Google/<insert other corporate entity>!

This system of app review and locked-down pay-wall systems makes commercial sense for now, but ultimately it is not scalable, doesn't provide quality and is too slow. Any system that goes against the grain of a major trend, progressing along a rapid trajectory, with rapid innovation... simply will not continue.

The point at which people realize that Google and Apple are hindering innovation, will be the point at which they will open-up, and hopefully become a free platform.

(although I'm hoping before that time, our Internet infrastructure and bandwidth will be ubiquitous enough that all phones will simply boot into a browser - it's inevitable at some near point in the future).

> Could you imagine how far behind the Internet (and society) would be if any website you wanted to launch had to first be reviewed and assessed by Apple/Google/<insert other corporate entity>

You can have now your site accessible from the iPhone without the approval from Apple. It's not about availability, it's about the convenience of selling on the regulated highly accessible market. To sell in their store you enter the contract between them and you, the same way you'd do this if you'd want to have Walmart selling your goods instead of selling them on your own on the street, and even for selling on the street you'd have to follow the local laws.

Walmart is not a monopoly (and even more not a monopoly by design that will never be anything else).

You sound as if you want to make it mandatory to jailbreak your phone. If you want to go ahead, no one is stopping you, but some people are going to want the protection of vetted apps running code on their primary communication device. It is not a coincidence that Google is going the way of Apple with a curated store. If you don't like it don't use it.

> Assessing the quality of an app is what users' ratings are for

As an app store user I disagree. User ratings in the app store are not really a useful guideline in my experience - and it often takes trying several (reasonably well rated) apps to find one that is actually usable.

For example; it took me the best part of 10 tries to find a working tourist map of a city I was visiting a few weeks ago.

The app store review process is currently broken; as you say this decision is prudish, and other review decisions are idiotic.

But I think it is generally broken too in letting too much cruft go live.

In fact, I'd happily pay a premium for a "curated" store where reviewers judged the utility of apps more strictly.

I would very much like a free-for-all to be listed in the app store at all, but then give people the ability to create "curated streams" that users can subscribe-to/filter-with. That way, no bizarre censorship or arbitrary in-or-out decisions, but users could, if they wanted, only ever have to look at the store owner's "best of breed" channel.

I agree with you, which is why I use Android. But, I see an appeal to the walled garden.

I can let my children get on the app store without worrying too much it will lead to questions I don't feel like answering at that age. I have greater confidence that getting a game for the kids won't come with overly onerous spyware. I also have a better feeling that it will generally work.

This is not the way I want to operate, but I see how it appeals to some people.

Perhaps there should be a kids' version of the app stores, instead of forcing adults to use what amounts to a kids' version currently.

App stores should do what is good for their shareholders

Apple is trying to move from being the cool kids counter-culture creative types alternative to the PC to being the corporate acceptable alternative to the Blackberry.

A story about karmasutra apps or ifart in the WSJ could cause a CEO to change their mind about allowing users to use their iPhone on the corp network.

And of course the best way of preventing such a story is, as we all know, to make a big splash about banning such an app

And yet... There are still Karma sutra apps on the Apple network. And a LOT of fart apps. If what you say is true, then why hasn't Apple removed them?

The problem is the human element. If you are doing something that can in some way be construed as going against the app store guidelines, eventually you are going to get a reviewer who rejects/takes down your app. Even if other reviewers knew that your app had been around for ever, you are eventually going to run into one who doesn't, or feels it's his/her job to be as strict as possible. There is very little consistency in Apple's process because of this. The company I work for has had apps rejected for things we've done literally about a dozen times before, and we certainly knew were border line but we figured were OK because it had been allowed so many times before. But eventually we run into a reviewer who for whatever reason, rejects something that we've done tons of times before.

Overall I think Apple's process works, but the inconsistency is just ridiculous. Especially when your releases are time critical.

>Apple is trying to move from being the cool kids counter-culture creative types alternative to the PC to being the corporate acceptable alternative to the Blackberry. A story about karmasutra apps or ifart in the WSJ could cause a CEO to change their mind about allowing users to use their iPhone on the corp network.

Only this has nothing to do with it.

iOS made inroads into the enterprise DESPITE the plethora of fart apps, Kama Sutra apps and such stuff.

Apple could care less about the hypothetical CEO you mention --not that 99.9% of CEOs would care about the presence of Kama Sutra apps in the app store when considering allowing the iPhone or not.

Mostly things like: employes and managers like to use it, it delivers a business advantage, we can deliver apps for our corporation in that platform.

"Apple could care less about the hypothetical CEO you mention"

The old fringe player Apple could - the new $trillion corporate Apple might "think different".

Remember once upon a time Microsoft was a cool fashionable young persons software company fighting against the established corporate monopolies

I'm sure this was just a new employee who was probably still in high-school when the Appstore launched and thinks anything not on the front page of reddit is ancient. But it does show a certain attitude inside Apple. Iconoclast thinking different and "we can do no wrong" is great when it's Jobs deciding you only need one mouse button - it's different when it becomes an unwillingness to even talk to your customers and users.

>The old fringe player Apple could - the new $trillion corporate Apple might "think different".

I seriously doubt it. Especially since they became the "$trillion corporate Apple" by not caring about those things --so why change a winning strategy?

Because being a niche underdog is different from having saturated one market and looking for a different one.

Good point, but they normally wouldn't cannibalize their existing markets (consumer) and their existing strategy by taking on a new market.

I don't agree that its a super hard job and that's why this problem has occurred.

Surely the review team should hear the iKamasutra's concerns and realise that the app has been in use for years already, and that the sudden reason to reject it is confusing and obtuse.

What you are saying boils down to "Surely it's obvious that...".

Of course, the problem there is that it's not obvious to a non-trivial number of people. Who apparently in this case work in Apple's review department.

The most obviously idiotic things often look perfectly sensible from "inside", or from a singular perspective.

But like any big organization, there are likely idiosyncrasies that have bubbled and been allowed to continue just because, "that's the way things are." For example, the whole iphone4 antenna thing was surely seen by many people...but it's likely that someone at top said, "It's passable" and everyone else on the team learned to just accept it. Just because lots of people recognize a big problem doesn't mean that all efforts have been made to rectify/smooth it out.

The Apple antenna happened because Johnny Ives and Steve Jobs loved the design look and feel of the metal around the edge of the phone, and told the engineers to make it happen. Unfortunately, this time hey couldn't bend the laws of physics. I suggest looking up "Steve's Folly"...

There was nothing wrong with the Apple antenna. It was a perception issue, not a flaw. People kept buying that phones even after Apple stopped giving away the free cases and people kept giving it a higher customer satisfaction rating than any other phone on the planet at the time...because the benefits of the new design generally outweighed the costs - it was a good design given the constraints faced at the time.

> I suggest looking up "Steve's Folly"

Which turns out to be a rant about Adobe Flash for Mobile, which even Adobe has since given up on.



Ah. Obviously more than one of Steve's folly!

Try this one: http://www.cultofmac.com/125623/the-best-revelations-quotes-...

"Steve Jobs’ obsession with aesthetic details could be taken to ludicrous extents. For example, when they built a state-of-the-arty factory in Fremonth to manufacture the Macintosh, Jobs wanted all the machines repainted in bright colors. Apple’s manufacturing director, Matt Carter, fought him on it, because this was precision equipment, and repainting them could make them not work right. Steve persevered, and one of the most expensive machines broke, being known as Steve’s folly."

My top google result on the phrase was this, FWIW:


Doh! Not an instance of folly :(

Exactly - it was a perception issue - in that the signal strength indicator was showing 5 out of 5 bars with signal strength ranging from 60% to 100%. When you covered the antenna with your hand, the signal strength dropped ~40%. So if you were in an area with strong reception, you would get ~60%, which Apple considered so "good enough" that we might as well show Full bars. If you on the other hand were in an area with weaker reception, say 60% (which still shows as Full bars), and cover the antenna you get 60-40=20% signal strength which resulted in a lot of issues and dropped calls.

Now, about the customer satisfaction rating... did users rate the phone (calling) experience alone, or the overall experience of using a 326dpi, internet-enabled, capacitive touch screen pocket computer with 500 000 "apps" that also happens to have a GSM capability besides Wi-Fi/FaceTime/Skype-video-calling??

The iPhone is as much a music player as a phone, so every iPhone comes with a special microphone headset with some external controls in the chord. Many iPhone users (myself included) prefer to talk on the phone via this headset. Using the headset you get better sound quality for both parties, can hear with both ears, can move more freely and be more comfortable and can use the phone to take notes or check your calendar or look something up on the internet while you talk. So when you talk on an iPhone, the phone might be in your pocket or in your lap or on the desk in front of you or just about anywhere. This presumption that people who are talking on the phone must be holding the phone by its base against their head is frankly a relic of an earlier time when phones weren't also good music players.

If you're listening to music and receive a call, one squeeze to the headphone chord answers the call, then the music comes back up where it left off when you or the other party hangs up. It's really convenient.

The AT&T network was kind of crappy for a while because they had trouble keeping up with demand. This perception issue only affected people who didn't use headphones and held the phone in a certain way and had unusually poor local signal strength...but even then, it wasn't appreciably worse than the situation those same people would have faced with the prior model, the 3GS.

My iphone didn't come with this. Maybe it's because I am a business customer and had to buy it through the ATT store? I'm in the Boston area, in case that's pertinent.

According to Apple, an iPhone includes "Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic":


The standard set looks a lot like plain white earbuds, but there's a tiny clicker thing on one of the headphone wires. In recent models that is (1) a microphone, (2) an up/down volume control, (3) a sort of generic action button - single-click to answer an incoming call or hang up an active one. When listening to music, single click is pause/resume, double-click skips to the next track, triple click backs up a track. press-and-hold gets you Siri.

iphone 4 - so I don't know what they mean by recent. No clicker thing, etc. etc.

OT: I've been stupidly downvoted for many things recently, including my observations about the exercise that kids get a few days ago (I have three boys, 11-17 y.o., coached in the town leagues for years, know a helluva lot of kids and watched them grow up, but I guess that doesn't qualify my observation or make them pertinent to such a discussion in any way...).

I've never complained about a downvote-- until now.

Somebody downvoted me because my fucking iphone 4 didn't come with a mic. I'm afraid our community is getting really fucking stupid. It's not that I care about karma, but I grieve the loss of the community.

Heh. I use headphones to listen to music in a cheap Nokia 1616.

Not using headphones is truly a relic of the past.

Unfortunately, it sounds like it might be time for the iKamasutra team to have a lawyer write a letter to Apple. It seems like they have a pretty clear cut case of unfair treatment towards their app. Sometimes, a letter from a lawyer is all it takes to get things moving in the right direction.

Realistically, an outfit like the iKamasutra guys can't take on Apple in a legal skirmish.

>"The problem is that "app approval" does not scale well,"

Orwell's description of how censorship looks at scale is probably as good as any.

i've always wondered how the app approval process works...I imagine there are diagnostic tools that search for suspicious behavior in the code. But how much time is spent going through the content? clearly there's not a rigorous effort to test stability. Besides crashes, I've seen games where much of the UI is just broken through bugs.

But seeing how quick they are to jump on objectionable content...is it safe tos ay that most of an app-approver's time has to be spent skimming for nudity/extreme violence/cuss words? how else could this reasonably scale?

Sergey said that Apple and Facebook are a threat to freedom on the web, but I submit that commercial 'app stores' like Google Play and Apple's AppStore are the real threat. They have all the control and solely get to decide what is acceptable or not (while reserving the right to change their mind later). Google Play won't even let you rent a video from the store if it detects your phone has been rooted. This sucks. We've gained all this freedom and control with free software and the web, etc, and now we're going to give it all away to these stupid commercial app stores.

I disagree regarding Google Play.

Appstore is a threat because if you want software on your Apple phone then it is the only legal method.

But with Android you can install software from any app store you like, or directly. Google provide an app store as a service, but it's only one of many.

Yes the fact that you can add extra apps is better than the 'our way or the highway' approach of the apple app store, but defaults matter. 99% of people think the play store/app store/android market is the only way to do it. You remove it from there, it's gone.

http://martingryner.com/on-alternative-android-app-stores/ "In first week, Number Game got about 360 downloads on Google Play. By that time, Number Game on SlideMe had been downloaded about 700 times…in 3 days. SlideMe is the number 1 source for Number Game downloads adding over 100 on better days. If you also happen to update your application and get to “updated” section, you could pick up as much in few hours. SlideMe has less applications than Google Play, but a huge user base. Also it has a decent review process (it didn’t take 2 eternities like Amazons) and the best developer interface. If I had to choose just one market to publish my apps on in the future it will be SlideMe, not Google Play."

So the only reason it's not a problem is that it doesn't work?

"Your Honor, yes, I shot at him, but I missed!"

The objection to Google Play was that even though it wasn't theoretically bad, in practice it caused problems. The parent demonstrated that the postulated problems don't show up in reality. What is the point you are trying to make? If it doesn't cause ill effects, no, it's not a problem!

What matters more is the fact that if a family member of mine wants me to make a personalized app for their iPhone, it's not doable unless the great big Apple approves of the app. (or we jailbreak).

That's just ridiculous in so many ways. Even if you want to wall in your hardware to your own appstore, you should always provide SOME way of letting users install their own software, even if it's some hidden obscure option.

This is actually not true. You can create a new "ad-doc" provisioning profile and install it on your friend's/family's phones and they can install the app manually through iTunes or via a service like Testflight.

You have to pay apple 100 USD per annum for this privilege and despite that the app once installed will become unusable within the year.

It is possible (without jailbreaking) with an enterprise certificate.

But I agree, its ridiculous that you need the manufacturers approval to deploy software _you_ have written on a device _you_ have bought and paid in full.

The Free Software Foundation have been talking about this for years. It's Freedom 0. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

I'm afraid this part of a larger trend - people are trading freedom for the promise of safety left and right.

On the other hand, it's far less likely that "a family member of yours will want you to make a personalized app for their iPhone and you'll need Apple's permission" (the problem the App Store creates)

than "the general no tech-savvy population will have problems with malware and/or malicious apps they install without knowing what they are doing" (the problem the App Store is supposed to solve)

Until your carrier decides you don't need the ability to install non-market apps and disables the option. Oh, and the phone in question is not yet rooted. This is a matter of time if it isn't already happening. Google can do the open and free dance all it wants but with the carriers standing between you and Google...

I read all those horror stories about US carriers. Here in Poland my gf bought an Android and:

+ alternative markets option was on

+ no google apps at all (umm, maybe youtube was there), no gmail account setup, etc.

- some map/satnav crapware but nothing standing in the way

So... not everywhere in the world carriers are monopolized by GOOG. (and I'm not saying that maybe we dont' have some carriers who put google setup by default, I don't know)

If a carrier is being evil I can switch to another carrier though. And if enough people avoid carriers because they lock you in, they will take notice.

There is nothing like this for iPhone. You can't go to a different company than Apple to buy your iPhone on different terms.

I'm rather skeptical of this. Perhaps because I live somewhere where there's only 3 different carriers and they all started capping mobile internet in the same month. And they all dramatically raised prices in the same month. Etc. For now, you're able to buy a vanilla Android phone from a third party, but what happens when carriers start to only allow IMEIs sold through them or their subsidiaries on their networks? Carriers have way too much power right now, partly because Google caved in and allowed them to butcher Android phones.

We need to be vigilant as a lot of consumers don't really care about these kinds of things.

I'm not the most knowledgeable within mobile geekery, but couldn't you in buy an android phone with no contract over the net and get a sim card for it?

The point regarding IMEIs was that if carriers get antagonistic enough, it would be possible to change the blacklist that (some) carriers use for stolen phones into a whitelist that disallows any third party phones.

Outside the US, governments take the promise of being able to take a SIM and put it into an unlocked phone very seriously, so I'd say this is a strictly local problem. In fact, I'd wonder how Deutsche Telekom's regulators would react if T-Mobile (DT's US subsidiary, at least for now) started doing something like this (that they probably wouldn't permit in Germany).

Well, carriers' policy regarding apps in US held mobile market back for years comparing with Europe. For example, here in Russia once there was enormous number of free and paid J2ME apps (usually paid by sending sms to short number). My friends at university read ebooks on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens_S55>Siemens S55</a> (I used Palm). I know of several companies that were started at this market and later moved to Win Mobile/Android/iPhone etc.

In the US, AT&T used to restrict things this way. They quit doing so quite a while back. I am unaware of any other carriers doing this.

It is worth noting that AT&T quit restricting non-Market applications (back when it was the Android Market) because of the Amazon Appstore. People kept asking how they could get it (because they wanted the Free App of the Day and the like) and AT&T eventually gave in.

The App Store is the only out-of-the-box method to get natively-compiled code on your phone, but the things that web apps on iOS can't do seems to be shrinking all the time.

Javascript web apps on iOS can have home-screen icons, and "loading" splash screens, and persist data to a local database, and even support multitouch and the accelerometer, all offline.

A lot of the iOS apps I use could have been written as web apps. Is this true on Android, too? Maybe it's time for somebody to write a "generic mobile app store", for the apps that don't require fancy things like 3D graphics.

Jailbreaking your iPhone is NOT illegal.

For now. There's a DMCA exception that hasn't been renewed yet. Did you comment in support of it?

For Apple this is a problem since the app store is the only source of software for non-jailbroken iphones.

Regarding Android, we can always use another marketplace, but then the problem would be security and good quality apps. And so we would again be at square one. Does anybody have another idea?

The fact that this happened on both the App store, and Google Play almost simultaneously raises the suspicion that one of the less reputable competitors lodged some kind of complaint.

I'm bored, so let's run the numbers: the elapsed time between removal from the App Store and removal from Google Play is 23 days, at a point where it had been simultaneously in the App Store and the Android Market for ~450 days (I don't know the exact number), which gives us P = 23 / 450 = 0.05 -- where the null hypothesis is that removal happens at random -- for this within 23 days of each other, and that's on the edge of statistical significance (you usually set alpha = 0.05). So maybe something weird happened.

Very possibly. It could also be that someone at Google is watching what gets taken down from the app store an following suit.

Why would they ever do that?

Maybe Playboy decided they wanted to publish a Kamasutra app?

disreputable sex educators?

The trouble is that the guidelines aren't black and white. They are somewhat grey. This means that 2 reviews will rarely result in the same action.

I would argue the Kama Sutra is both historical and educational and not sexually explicit at all. Perhaps a celebration of human bodies even, I don't know.

It seems though that Apple particularly feel that its customers require a squeaky clean filter to assess everything they access.

For cloned and low quality app's this is great! Restricting porn... I guess it is a good thing. Kid's can browse the app store. However this grey area between what is clean and what isn't is something they have never mastered.

It is really sad to see Google following this path of over-censorship..

I think a guide to sex positions is as sexually explicit as it can get, it's just not necessarily pornographic.

I also think that the argument that it keeps the store clean so kids can browse it does not really work. Other online stores like Amazon don't have this, you can search for and buy porn there and nobody is outraged. A much better idea would be to give apps a suggested user age, so you could filter the store.

I've always thought the keyword is "explicit" for which the most relevant definition is probably: "described or shown in realistic detail"

I had the iKarmasutra app and it was great; slightly coy and fun, but detailed enough to understand how each position worked. The images were tastefully drawn with the same emphasis. But the detail couldn't be described as "realistic"

I don't think you even need to argue the historical/educational angle.

I would argue the Kama Sutra is both historical and educational and not sexually explicit at all. Perhaps a celebration of human bodies even, I don't know.

The problem is that there is no one objective definition of seuxality explicit. "I'll know it when I see it" is almost as good as you can get.

I would argue the Kama Sutra is both historical and educational and not sexually explicit at all.

What does "sexual explicit" mean? It is quite explicit about sex -- it is wholly concerned with sex.

However the app in question is not the historic Kama Sutra. It is a list of sexual positions, and by their own admission, with some subtle between the lines commentary, they seemed to be pushing boundaries on what graphically was allowed.

slightly off topic.

Today I realized that my 3g plan is censoring adult content. I also listened to a podcaster talk about renaming his podcast "talkings hit" to get passed the itunes criteria. The paper had some silly fluff article about Facebook and breastfeeding pictures. Youtube is stricter than TV on nudity (and laxer on violence).

These were all little corners of the internet up until recently and it seemed all right that they all have their own rules. Suddenly they pretty much are the internet and soon the will be the computer.

I don't like it.

> Youtube is stricter than TV on nudity (and laxer on violence).

In your country. sigh

Many, many developed nations allow swearing, violence and nudity on TV at all times of the day.

Youtube is stricter than TV on nudity

except for stuff like this (very NSFW just after the 8 minute mark) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLjRExyIBNM which somehow is still there

[Edit - it's Penn & Teller on Taxes, part 3]

With only 3,000 viewers so far, perhaps it's just nobody's complained yet?

Youtube restricts pornography not nudity.

Yesterday, Facebook wouldn't let me post a link to a pirate sports video stream, so they're censoring based on copyrights too.

The crazy thing is the #4 paid app is this violent fantasy about shooting people with a sniper rifle and that's apparently OK:


The #5 paid app is a scam designed to confuse (check out the reviews):


That's really curious. The "lock-screen" app has a Rated 4+ indication, yet it's actual ratings are 1-star. There's something fishy here, how come this doesn't get the appstore lords' attention?

Rated 4+ refers to the approved age group, not average review rating.


There's a technological solution to situations like these: make a full screen, offline capable, mobile web app.

Discovery and charging for your mobile web app or for content within it may be challenging for the foreseeable future, but hopefully not forever.

Another issue is feature parity with native SDKs, which seems to be very slowly narrowing each year.

Ability to produce performant apps is another area with very slow but greater than zero progression.

For games, sure, go native and take advantage of the store discovery and payment platforms, access to all the APIs, and performance.

For other kinds of apps like these, maybe mobile web apps are a better idea.

Edit: clarification.

Nice job Apple and Google, nice job.

If I were in charge, person who made the call would be out of job.

And if this was "company" decision, well, good luck to you all, and move to Europe. We love brunettes here.

Apple has consistently proven that they want the App Store to be squeaky Disney family clean. So the fact that some apps went through the cracks was pure luck.

Considering the app has been in the top paid apps charts for years, it probably wasn't a crack that let it in.

But why? WHY? What harm could come from app like this?

Please, assume that I'm 12 years old, and try to explain.

Here's an explanation I would offer to a 12-year old to explain Apple's decision, but please bear in mind that it doesn't mean I agree with it:

There are many people in the world who use technology, but are offended by even the slightest sexual material. They might not have reasons for it that you and I would agree with, but that's beside the point. The point is that they can get very loud and insistent and they might go on TV saying that "Apple distributes smut" and whatnot. Apple wants to avoid that kind of hassle. There are different ways to do that, but the easiest for Apple is to simply reject any content they think might cause them this kind of trouble.

Some people do not like sex, and do not like people enjoying sex, and do not want to "promote" (i.e. talk about) sex.

Ergo anything that implies that normal people can be healthy and happy and want to have sex threatens this world-view.

Let me try: your parents are paying for your iPhone and they don't want you to have a Kama Sutra app :)

So, let me try to figure this out:

Kama Sutra - not ok.

Killing people app[1] - ok.



This is not a new problem in US entertainment and media. Compare the behavior of Apple with the MPAA ratings board which treats violence and sex in a similar manner, rating films which depict violence with an "R" while effectively censoring films with certain kinds of sex scenes with "NC-17" ratings (in case you aren't familiar: films rated "R" will be shown in most movie theaters but many if not most theaters choose not to show "NC-17" films). See the documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" for more.

I have no idea where this comes from, if it stems from some kind of deep rooted puritanical culture, but it's not exactly unique to Apple's app store.

I still cannot wrap my head around this. My brain just switches off when I try to think how did we come to this when nudity (and of course sex) is taboo, but killing people is OK. The fact that I don't even see any discussions about this baffles me even more.

There is discussion about it, among both the gaming and film industries. See my sibling comment to yours and the documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" which is from 2005 IIRC. They delve into it quite deeply, even looking at why some sex scenes are given the deadly NC-17 (spoiler: the MPAA doesn't like gay sex and sex where the woman is enjoying it) and comparing the kinds of violence in films that are rated differently.

I remember one especially biting criticism from a comedian or filmmaker who basically argued that we have it backwards with the ratings for violent films, and instead should rate certain war movies so that younger people actually CAN see them, and rate other, "fantasy" violence higher so only adults who can discern the difference can see them.

I think the example was "Saving Private Ryan" which is rated R, but in this new scheme would be PG-13, because it depicts war realistically. The James Bond movies, which are PG-13 because they have no gore, should be rated R, because the violence in them is depicted unrealistically: with no consequences, with effortless skill on the part of the killer, and with clear cut "good and evil" roles. I'm sure I'm butchering this argument, but I found it to be an extremely compelling one, if a bit too optimistic that this would ever change.

In games, see the recent article on Jonathan Blow that was posted to HN, called "The Most Dangerous Gamer". There's definitely a related discussion among certain game makers about violence in games.

The first scene in Saving Private Ryan was realistic. Everything after it was very unrealistic, with experienced German troops running into gunfire in the open like lemmings. I remember one veteran who was angry because it insulted both armies - it made the Germans look incompetant when they weren't, which in turn trivialised the incredible effort it took to defeat them.

Actually, I have to admit that I haven't seen that film and know little about it. I tried to dig up the exact quote from "This Film Is Not yet Rated" but couldn't find it, so I may have misremembered it.

But the underlying point still stands, even if that film is not a great example. Depictions of war should probably be treated be differently than the kind of over-the-top violence in most action movies that I can only describe as fantasy. Yet the ratings board seems not to take that into account, and just counts splatters of blood in a way that's taken out of context.

You're probably thinking about George Carlin, see, e.g.,


Anthropologically speaking, it makes much sense: killing people is sometimes needed to ensure the survival of the community. Raunchy sex is not.

Mere reproduction-level sex can ensure the survival of a community just fine. Plus, sex can quickly get communities into trouble (rivalries, mainly, also people becoming absent-minded etc).

Yes, it's weird, but that's not Apple's fault, it's a reflection of the society we live in.

Apple sells their devices around the world. They have decided to make the only way to get apps for them their own way, and to apply their american values to all countries. As a non-american I find these two decisions troubling, and they are absolutely, very much Apple's fault indeed.

As in, the American society, if I may say :)

Everyone has sex. Few engage in battlefield combat. Comparing the two debases the conversation.

Whether having an app that talks about positions is going to make a 13 year old (more?) sexually active is a completely different question, but compounding the two is nonsense.

There really needs to be a way to sell outside of the apple appstore without needing to jailbreak of your device. If the DOJ can sue Apple and the book publishers over an apparent attempt to destroy competition in the retail market, why wouldn't they be interested in how Apple is destroying developers' ability to freely publish apps and consumers to have choices besides Apple in the marketplace? How do we start a campaign to get them to look into this? Has anyone tried to file a suit of any kind to address this problem to date?

Why not just buy an android phone?

1) Notice that Google has removed this app too.

2) Carriers (AT&T) are known for disabling app sideloading.

3) Having to root your device presents the basic user with a major technical hurdle, and in some cases, an outright impossibility.

If you're going to advocate as an alternative an entire platform you can't guarantee freedom on, for freedom's sake, why advocate it?

I don't think I've ever advocated Android, but I am interested in why it doesn't live up to the promise of being open.

When I see comments like the parent's the logic seems to be: "Android isn't properly open, so let's sue Apple."

> Why not just buy an android phone?

> I don't think I've ever advocated Android

That wasn't advocacy.

I really wanted to know why the original commenter was talking about suing Apple, instead of just buying an Android phone.

Because there is a bigger picture here than just "buy a different phone" as mobile computing becomes more ubiquitous. I think that having a single app store on the dominant platform that everyone is forced to go through is akin to having a single browser on the dominant OS. So in the end it's not about suing Apple per se but if a suit against Apple were successful then the rest of the market players would be forced to open up as well.

I'm not sure I see how a successful suit against Apple would have any such effect.

Google would simply say "we're open already", and become the dominant platform while Apple was reeling from the legal damage.

I think it would be pretty easy for Apple to allow apps to be installed on their devices without having to go through the app store. You can already jailbreak to do this so the capability is there Apple just needs to allow it. Not sure what legal damage you think they would incur except whatever they would pay to fight the suit.

The legal damage would be the fact that each design decision they made around the store would be under court scrutiny.

But so far, you haven't explained why this should be done given that Android offers what you ask for. What's wrong with letting people decide for themselves?

In my thinking at least Apple (as the market dominator) isn't properly open so let's sue Apple and, assuming the suit is won, the rest will follow.

Are you agreeing that Android isn't open either?

If so, how would suing Apple (successfully) have any effect other than to cede the market to Google?

Android is more open in the sense that there is more than one market and anyone can build a marketplace for apps. Yes, there are places where Google is not open with Android as well but my main problem is there is only one app store for iDevices. My thinking is that if Apple is forced to open up in terms of allowing more than one channel to sell apps through, or to sell directly, that it won't cede the market to Google but will set a precedent for all players.

It sounds like you are saying that you want Apple to be forced to do what Google has already done. Doesn't this mean the the precedent has already been set but Google?

That leads back to the original question: Why is it so important for Apple to be forced to operate like Android when people are free to just buy an Android phone if they want that kind of environment?

What's wrong with Android in your opinion?

Yes, that is what I am saying. Google has set a precedent but not a legal one. So leading back to the question there seems to me to possibly be a case that Apple has a monopoly of sorts and that it is not allowing proper competition because of the power they hold to arbitrarily delete a developer's app without recourse. I don't know if the argument would hold up in court of course and it's certainly not a straightforward argument for reasons you have pointed out, namely people can switch to Android, but I think it should be tried. As for what is wrong with Android - nothing really. I don't use it as I prefer the iDevices so far but if Android does at some point become dominant then what is to say they won't try and close off the market in a similar fashion?

I do now understand what you mean as far as a legal precedent is concerned, but if a ruling were based on the idea that Apple had a monopoly then by definition it wouldn't apply to anyone else.

[edit: removed point about Apple not having a monopoly]

The app looks extremely well made, really a shame it has been pulled out of the stores.

It IS well made. My wife and I got it about a year ago. It's password-protected and very tastefully drawn. About 25% of the positions are virtually impossible but pretty hilarious. :)

I'd have had no issue with Apple if they had simply not allowed it on day 1. But to allow it to be hugely successful for such a long period of time (as in: within the top 50 or so overall for months on end) only to pull it without reason is horrifying to me as an app developer.

I'm not a fan of these sort of apps but from the pics provided, it seems to be made as tastefully as possible and without excessive "sexual allure" (ie. titillating apps made for 13-year-olds to download without their parents knowing).

(I'd say the 13 million "SALES" are also an indicator of quality but, Angry Birds aside, there's no way a number that high was all paid downloads.)

Imagine all the titillating books 13-year-olds can read in a public library without their parents knowing!

Seriously, though, there are much better sources of porn out there than books and sketchy non-explicit monochrome drawings, and kids are well aware of them.

> "(I'd say the 13 million "SALES" are also an indicator of quality but, Angry Birds aside, there's no way a number that high was all paid downloads.)"

Are you sure? Why?

If that number isn't just iPhone sales, then it includes the free versions for Android, Chrome, Roku, etc.

As a developer, i'd really think hard about developing a native app. I know that some apps cannot go web based, but we need to push the boundaries of what is possible with mobile browsers. I can't think of any other way of keeping the mobile development open.

Apple's app rejection policy seems as unpredictable as Google's account banning.

Someone could start an App Approval business. Applications don't require approval to go on to an app store / market place, but if the developers submitted their code to one AppApproversLtd, those guys could review it for a small comission, then upload it to the app store as a trusted application. Though there's a slight conflict of interest (i.e. the person paying the approvers is also the person sending the code) I believe it's in the AppApproversLtd company's interest to do a good job since their business depends on them giving a reliable evaluation / building up a good reputation.

Using that business model keeps flexibility in place, where users decide if they want to risk trusting an unapproved app, or would rather go for an app that's been approved by one of these companies (potentially incurring additional cost if the developers passed the approval cost on to their users rather than offsetting against advertising).

AppApproversLtd could offer different levels of approval / ratings - i.e. just checking for malicious code vs. checking for polite error handling, efficiently written code, best practices, impact on battery life, etc.

That would be fine but it doesn't solve any of the problems really. Apple will still have control over their store. Google Play will continue to let you in and then review if they get a complaint (at least I assume that's how they do it). Ultimately I'm not sure that the business model will work. It only really applies to Android and even then most people get apps through the marketplace. Those people who want to side load apps most likely know the consequences or know someone who does and decide whether or not to take the risk.

It seems analogous to running your website code through the W3 checker. It's a certification that you did stuff right, but it doesn't stop most users from going to your site if you don't have that little badge at the bottom.

Google was able to portray an image of being good and free and transparent early on in its existence. This image still lingers from their PR efforts but the reality is that Google is one of the most agressive corporations out there. Let's not demonize Google in particular, Sillicon Valley is brutal. But, let's also make clear that Google isn't some nice old lady that does no evil. Google spies on users just like Facebook, Google plays hardball with its monopoly in web search like Microsoft played monopoly with their OS. Google goes the whole nine yards in the Sillicon Valley dirty games and still these articles all mention "Google is open" or "how could Google do evil". Google has a PR team as good as or better than their programmers, that is a fact.

A friend of mine that used to work at iTunes tells me that Apple always keep the front page of their stores completely 'family friendly'. Maybe this mentality is starting to filter down past the front page and result in a knee-jerk rejection of anything vaguely adult.

Unless the title of the blog post has been changed since submission to HN, why the editorialised title?

Edit: I've since learnt that that is actually the title of the post. It still seems kind of sensationalist none-the-less.

Well, their product has been unjustly removed from both Google and Apple stores. I'm surprised the blog post isn't filled with more negativity towards both companies - the "sensationalist" title suits the content and tone perfectly.

The title of both the HN submission and the blog post are "Apple Hates Brunettes" at the moment, unless I'm getting some kind of cached copy?

Oh, my mistake - that is actually the title. Thanks.

Perhaps there should be an 18+ section that can be blocked by parents with a password? If you have an out-of-the-box iPhone you can get any manner of porn within Safari. Why shouldn't you be able to get real porn with a better experience via an app?

Actually Apple doesn't hate brunettes, what they hate is the likeness to reality that your brunette colored people are, where if you color the hair like in your second example, the people become less realistic and more like abstract icons; their hair being the exact same color as their body skin (yellow and red). Doesn't take a genius to figure this one out, but then it doesn't take a genius to write a bitching blog post either.

They haven't approved the update with the new graphics either.

Didn't know the app existed! Now that I know it did, I want it to be available. Not settling for kamasutra+.

Is it possible that Ikamasutra developer sue Apple and win in court?

I think that really depends on what you mean by "possible". For all practical purposes, it's pretty unlikely given the comparative legal resources of the two companies.

Exactly. In a lot of things in the US, you get as much justice as you can afford.

Btw, ikamasutra.com can use a facelift. :/ It's kinda geocities looking right now. You should make it more web 2.0.

I hope that Steve Jobs, who happily credited himself as an openly adherent member and ambassador of the counterculture that fought for ideas like this to be acceptable in a then over-conservative society, is rightfully turning in his grave.

Let's not act like he would have cared about this while he was alive. Apple's products and services always place family-friendlyness over any kind of free expression.

Steve Jobs was quoted as saying "those who want porn can get an Android". I'm very much afraid you are wrong on this one.

Isn't that exactly what mrich is saying? Family-friendly over porn?

I remember reading a quote of Jobs where he said 'no-one wants porn on their phone', when clearly porn is popular enough that plenty of people do.

He even, very ironically, said iOS gives you freedom from porn.

Yeah as I say, "I hope"... maybe even retrospectively from atop of his own 'iCloud'. Please read my comment as slightly tongue in cheek, I'm well aware of his later-life stance on adult material.

I lol'ed at the iCloud reference :-) sorry, I didn't read the humour, should not have been so abrupt!

Steve Jobs wanted to offer people "Freedom from Porn". Seems he was pretty conservative in his older days (I got this impression from his biography as well, but I can't back that up). http://gawker.com/5539717/steve-jobs-offers-world-freedom-fr...

Why people aren't building sites that work with everything and using the app merely to authenticate? That will allow you to capitalize via the *stores but not be hostage to it.

Some clueless people now will try to educate me that a native client is better, even it not having bookmarks, several tabs, browser extensions, pitch to zoom on every page, etc etc

"In the process we also removed even more illustration details from the Android version so it looked like the new iOS version"

That's a curious statement that makes you wonder which part of the story we don't know (was this a case of pushing boundaries, seeing what they could get away with?) It seems doubtful that we're hearing the full truth.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact