Privacy-conscious iPhone users, the app of your dreams is no more. Clueful, an app that policed your iPhone's other apps for privacy violations, was pulled from the App Store this week, and both the company that made it and Apple are keeping their mouth shut about why.
What Clueful did, as The Huffington Post described back when it was released in May, was tell you exactly what sort of misbehavior your iPhone apps were up to. Does the app you just downloaded access your address book? GPS coordinates? Social networking accounts? Clueful claimed to be "the world's first and only app" to tell you so.
But on Thursday SecurityWeek reported after two months of being available, Clueful, made by the antivirus firm Bitdefender, was pulled from the virtual iPhone shelves.
"Apple informed Bitdefender’s product development team of the removal - for reasons we are studying - after it was approved under the same rules," Bitdefender said in a statement online. "iPhone owners who already use Clueful privacy may continue to do so."
Bitdefender performed a seemingly innocent function, telling users exactly what data each of their apps were pulling from them, but nevertheless found itself in the crosshairs of Apple's notoriously strict app police even after getting approved in May. We're unlikely to know precisely what Apple's motivation was; both Apple and Bitdefender declined to comment to SecurityWeek. HuffPost put in its own requests and will update if we hear back. For now we can only speculate about how Clueful fell our of favor, but Apple retains the right to restore the app to iTunes and could at any time.
Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigrant
Boston-based developer Owlchemy Labs irked immigrant advocate groups with this iPhone game that allows users to drive a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/smuggle-truck-operation-immigration-rejected-by-apple_n_854899.html" target="_hplink">truck full of immigrants</a> through the desert. According to the AP, "[Developer Alex] Schwartz said he wanted to bring attention to immigration issues." But Apple banned the app from the App Store.
U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Tom Udall and Harry Reid pressured Apple, Google and RIM earlier this spring to remove smartphone apps that notify users of nearby police <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/senators-ask-apple-to-ban-dui-checkpoint-alert-apps_n_839300.html" target="_hplink">DUI checkpoints</a>. Apple and RIM have since <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/09/apple-dui-checkpoint-apps-ban_n_874532.html" target="_hplink">complied</a> with the Seantors' demands and cracked on so-called "DUI checkpoint" apps, but Google has yet to take action.
Despite initially passing Apple's standards, the allegedly anti-gay messages promoted by the app "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/apple-exodus-international-app_n_839448.html" target="_hplink">Exodus International</a>" outraged thousands of customers. The Exodus International ministry, from which the app takes its name, <a href="http://blog.exodusinternational.org/about/http://blog.exodusinternational.org/about/" target="_hplink">promotes</a> "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." After more than 150,000 signatures were gathered for an online petition, Apple removed the app from the App Store entirely.
Hugh Hefner claimed in January that "Playboy" would soon come <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/21/playboy-ipad-app-blocked-_n_812489.html" target="_hplink">uncensored on the iPad</a>. Apple, however, remains firm on its nudity-free policy within the App Store and forced "Playboy" to resort to a low resolution web app instead.
The <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/20/apple-removes-wikileaks-app-from-app-store/" target="_hplink">unofficial WikiLeaks application</a> lasted only three days in the App Store before being banned by Apple.
'The Importance Of Being Earnest'
Apparently Apple's censors worried that Tom Bouden's graphic novel version of Oscar Wilde's <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/14/apple-censors-gay-kiss-in_n_611553.html" target="_hplink">The Importance of Being Earnest</a></em>, which portrays illustrations of nude or partially nude men embracing, would be too objectionable for too many users. Apple approved the app, but only with black boxes covering controversial frames. However, the App Store later reversed its decision and passed the app without the censor bars.
Big Brother Camera Security
In 2010, Apple approved the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/apple-bans-big-brother-camera-security-iphone-passcodes_n_877481.html" target="_hplink">Big Brother Camera Security app</a>, which lets users remotely photograph someone who is improperly trying to access their stolen or lost iPhone. In June 2010, however, the app was removed from the App Store following accusations that the developer was "surreptitiously harvesting user passwords."
Apple removed the app called "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/23/apple-removes-anti-israel-thirdintifada-app_n_882857.html" target="_hplink">ThirdIntifada</a>" from the App Store, following complaints made by Israel's information minister, Yuli Edelstein and Jewish human rights group Simon Wiesenthal Center. The app was said to promote violence against Israel, according to claims.
Apple initially approved so-called "anti-gay" app <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/24/apple-manhattan-declaration-app_n_788075.html" target="_hplink">Manhattan Declaration</a>, but the App Store later removed the program following a wave of complaints--and a petition--from outraged customers. The app asked users to sign a "declaration," which according to the app "speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty."