Apple’s iPhone App Store approval process has created a flurry of news with its stringent requirements, the latest of which involved an eloquent rant by Trent Reznor. It’s pretty hard to disagree with Reznor on this one, though we may have done so with more carefully chosen words (you’re too old to care so much about your rocker persona). The apps that do and don’t make it through seem arbitrary at best, and near fascist at the worst.
Developer Jelle Prins has found a way around the mess by hiding the “worst” of his app with a nifty little easter egg. Prins’ App, Lyrics, which displays the lyrics of songs in a user’s playlist, was initially rejected because it would display all lyrics, even the obscene ones. Approval came only after Prins installed a profanity filter.
That’s not the end of the story. Alongside the profanity filter, Prins scripted an easter egg that enables profanity at the user’s discretion. Just head to the “About” page on the app, swipe your fingers down three times and confirm you want to see the naughty lyrics. Prins said the egg was easy to implement because it’s a difficult thing to notice in the source code.
Prins also says the app was likely approved due to a lack of manpower on Apple’s part. Lyrics ties in to an online database to monitor usage. That database showed only one use during his approval process, meaning just one person fired up the app, searched for a few profanities, and then pushed the thing through when he couldn’t find any. Scouring lines of code for things like Prins’ easter egg isn’t even on the map.
Of course with all the attention on Prins and his little workaround, I would not be surprised to see the app pulled until 3.0 parental controls go live. So much for sticking it to the man.