Following the controversy of the infamous iPhone application "Baby Shaker" in April, for which Apple profusely apologized, comes another application that brings controversy back to the company. This week Apple decided to reject "Me So Holy," an application that allows users to take a photo of someone's face with the iPhone camera and paste it onto a likeness of Jesus Christ.
On the Website for Me So Holy, developer Benjamin Kahle wrote a blog post criticizing Apple's decision to reject the application, saying Apple was "too sensitive" to its perceived users. "[We] are disappointed that this otherwise creative, freethinking company would reject such a positive and fun application," the post states. "The message to developers is that they should think inside the box, rather than outside it."
Apple's software development kit (SDK) agreement for the iPhone states in section 3.3.12 that applications must not contain obscene, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind or "content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable" by iPhone or iPod touch users. "According to Apple, 'Me So Holy' contains objectionable content and is in violation of [the agreement]," Kahle wrote. An earlier incarnation of the application, Animalizer, which allows users to put faces on various animals, apparently passed Apple's test-users can download that application for the App Store.
Acknowledging the controversy surrounding the baby shaker application and Apple's previous rejection of an application featuring rock band Nine Inch Nails, Kahle muses whether the rejection of the Me So Holy application represents a downward spiral of creative content standards. "Our question is, is religion really to be placed in the same category as these violent apps?" he asks. "Sex, urine and defecation don't seem to be off-limits, yet a totally non-violent, religion-based app is."
Apple has a history of strong control over the distribution of applications: In 2008, the company blocked the Podcaster, a program that let users circumvent iTunes to download podcasts, as well as NetShare, a tethering application that allowed users to "tether" iPhones to notebooks or desktops and function as an Internet modem. Earlier this month, Apple rejected a BitTorrent application, citing copyright infringement concerns.
Along with Apple's restrictions, be they influenced by social or lawful responsibilities, third-party developers will also be grappling with new application requirements; last week Apple told developers it would only accept applications if they met compatibility standards for the upgraded 3.0 software. In an an e-mail to developers Apple said applications incompatible with iPhone OS 3.0 would be removed from the App Store.