“Where There Is A Will There Is A Way”

On May 19, 2009

Quick… don’t think about pink elephants…

And what it is you ARE thinking about.. why pink elephants, of course.

It’s human nature. That which we are told NOT to think about enters our thoughts. AND that which we are told we MAY NOT DO we, or at least a significant number of us, will TRY to find a way to do.

That’s the danger with Apple’s tight control over the App Store submission and approval process. People will always find a workaround and, as one recent example shows, it could become a huge problem.

Wired.com is reporting that Jelle Prins, whose iPhone app Lyrics was initially rejected due to it displaying song lyrics that contain profanity, found a workaround. Prins installed a profanity filter in the app and got it approved but, it turns out, he had also added a little something special to the mix…  an Easter Egg.

The Easter Egg, which he notes, "is almost impossible for Apple to see" unlocks the dirty words.

I must give credit where credit is due… but… it could become a problem since, “In theory," he writes, " a developer could make a simple Easter egg in their app and provide a user with whatever content they want.” (In this case all it takes is three downward swipes.)

The problem is… if it is easy enough to bury the feature for turning off the filter it is easy enough for any malicious developer to bury just about ANYTHING and, unfortunately, there will always be a few trouble-makers around who could mess everything up for everyone. The approval process takes too long and is too inconsistent as it is. If Apple now has to start going in depth on EVERY app… you get the point.

Is there a solution? Of course there is. Loosen up the clearcut limits and make better use of upcoming parental controls. Regardless, however, if the wrong people start trying to bury Easter Eggs it will definitely become a case of "buyer beware".