Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its App Store on July 10, 2018. Ten years ago, on this day in 2008, Apple opened its App Store with 500 apps. With this humble beginning, Apple has seen its heydays during the last decade.
However, the journey has many ups and downs as the tech giant had taken many strict actions against malicious activities by many app developers. This includes large-scale app removals in October 2016, followed by censorship by the Chinese government in 2017.
Apart from this mass removal, Apple has banned the most controversial apps at regular intervals. There are many apps Apple found misfit for its App Store. After citing genuine (or fabricated) reasons, Apple removed apps that were harmful to users and Apple itself.
The controversy goes hand in hand with the progress of the App Store. Today, App Store hosts nearly 2.1 million apps; this is a big achievement for Apple. But the App Store timeline is also riddled with many dark spots.
Here is our take on celebrating ten years of App Store; instead of cherishing sweet memories, we will relive the bitter phases of controversial apps Apple banned or removed from the store.
Most Controversial iPhone/iPad Apps Apple Removed from App Store
#1. Boyfriend Maker
Boyfriend Maker was a dating sim app developed by 36 You Games; the app was distributed under the freemium business model.
The app was divided into two portions: shopping and chatting. While the former was for shopping to create a “perfect boyfriend,” the latter invited trouble for the app developers.
In chatting portion, players would talk to the in-game boyfriend. The conversations would last for as long as a player has energy.
The boyfriend used to be a third-party API chatbot, which would begin to talk nonsense and turn offensive and violent at times.
This forces Apple to ban the app, and it was removed from the App Store. However, Apple approved a revised version of Boyfriend Plus in April 2013.
HiddenApps was a free download on Apple’s App Store, and this app allowed users to hide stock apps from Apple.
In addition to hiding stock apps, HiddenApps would let users disable iAds and access the hidden Field Test Mode.
The app allowed users to hide apps without Jailbreaking their iOS devices.
The app clearly violated Apple’s review guidelines, and therefore, Apple removed this app from its store.
This was started as a newsletter listing daily app deals from the App Store for Apple users in 2008.
The app peaked up on popularity chart, and more than 10 million users downloaded the app.
However, after receiving approval for iPad application in 2013, Apple removed AppGratis saying that the app has violated two clauses of App Store review guidelines:
2.25: Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.
5.6: Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.
MassRoots social network for cannabis and Apple found that the app encouraged people to turn to alcohol and illegal drugs for their enjoyment.
The app garnered attention when it entered into the list of top 200 fastest growing social networks in the App Store in November 2014.
Since the platform was entirely devoted to the cannabis, Apple decided to ban MassRoots. Interestingly, MassRoots was organically growing by 20,000 to 30,000 users per month by March 2014.
#5. Baby Shaker
Approval of the Baby Shaker app was arguably the biggest mistake by Apple.
Following many rants and negative reviews from bloggers and outraged parents’ organizations, Apple had to write an apology for approving this app.
“This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store,” Apple said in a statement. “When we learned of this mistake, the app was removed immediately. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention.”
It was a 99-cent game, which showed black-and-white line drawings of a baby. Shaking the motion-sensitive phone meant that the on-screen baby would get large red Xs over its eyes.
Sikalosoft designed the app, and it was uploaded to the App Store on Monday, and withdrawn on Wednesday.
In the real world, when parents shake their babies, there are high chances that the babies die. Many users found it unsuitable to make a joke of this serious issue.
Everybody knows about Wikileaks as there were leaks of controversial details about well-known organizations. Later, many top-ranked companies dissociated themselves from the whistleblower.
Since the app began to leak private information about companies, Apple decided to remove the app from its App Store.
#7. Flappy Bird
Flappy Bird was a viral game on App Store. So much so that the game’s developer was threatened to be murdered for pulling the game.
According to Nguyen, developer of Flappy Bird, the game was originally designed to relax users for a few minutes. However, it has become an addiction for gamers, who would spend a lot of time on their iOS devices.
In an interview with Forbes, Nguyen said, “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed.” He further added, “But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”
#8. My Shoe
The app is directly related to the infamous incident when president George W Bush was insulted by hurling a shoe at him.
This app allows you to do the same (virtually) again and again. Any major brand wouldn’t support this only to invite the wrath of political parties. So Apple did a smart job and removed the app from its App Store.
#9. Me So Holy
Religion is a sensitive topic to discuss in public, and when you wish to commercialize this phenomenon, you are kissing a fireball.
Me So Holy made this mistake. In this app, users could paste their faces onto the bodies of religious figures or authorities, which include nuns, priests, and Jesus.
Apple banned this app in 2009 for “containing objectionable content.” It was a violation of the company’s developer agreement.
#10. iSlam Muhammad
Apple removed this app from the store in 2010 on Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. According to Apple, the app “enjoys violent and hateful passages from the Quran that support and encourage Muslims to attack and behead anyone who does not agree with them.”
That’s all friends!
Is there any app you want to see on this list? You can send us some more controversial apps that were removed from the App Store.
Do you think developers will stop designing controversial apps? I don’t think so. Controversy is a way to capture attention, and as long as there is no limit on human imagination, people would devise new ways to create controversy.