Days after rejecting an e-reader from its App Store on the grounds that it could potentially download the Kama Sutra, a classical text with some sexual content, Apple relented and made the app, named Eucalyptus, available to users.
The app lets users search for classical, rights-free texts and download them from the Project Gutenberg's database, which features 28,000 free volumes in its online book catalog.
According to James Montgomerie, developer of the Eucalyptus app, Apple initially rejected Eucalyptus on the grounds that it contained "inappropriate sexual content."
In a May 21 blog posting, Montgomerie described writing back to Apple, defending his app on the grounds that it "simply provides an interface for searching an [Internet] archive of classic books."
Apple initially appeared unmoved, repeating that the app violated Section 3.3.12 of the iPhone SDK Agreement, which forbids "obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind."
But then the company seemed to change its mind.
"Earlier today I received a phone call from an Apple representative," Montgomerie wrote in a May 24 blog posting. "He was very complementary about Eucalyptus. We talked about the confusion surrounding its App Store rejections, which I am happy to say is now fully resolved."
The full version of Eucalyptus was approved after that conversation, and can be downloaded from the App Store.
Apple has already courted controversy over its app approval process. In April 2009, Apple removed a "Baby Shaker" application, which let users "shake" a virtual infant quiet, after substantial protests.
At the time, Apple representatives gave no comment on how that app had passed the initial review process. In the past, it has rejected apps such as "Slasher," which let users run around with a virtual knife.
Apple eventually released an apology on April 23, stating that the "application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store."
According to the company, there are some 17 million iPhone users in 80 countries. Ten months after the App Store's July 2008 launch, over 1 billion apps had been downloaded.