SciTechBlog   « Back to Blog Main
May 20, 2009

Easter Eggs sneak apps past iPhone gatekeepers

Posted: 08:37 AM ET

Apple is no stranger to criticism over its iPhone App Store approval process. Developers must subject their programs to policies that are vague and often inconsistently enforced before gaining access to the iPhone App Store.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone software developers kit, March 6, 2008.

While opinions about which programs are appropriate may vary, Apple has the final say in what you can install on your phone (unless you jailbreak your phone, but that tactic can void your warranty).

However, Wired illustrates one method developers are using to sneak contraband code past the Apple censors and on to iPhones everywhere:

Despite Apple’s reputation for being a notorious gatekeeper with its iPhone App Store, there’s a way to sneak in content such as porn, profanity or potentially malicious code, with no hacking required: Easter eggs.

A virtual Easter egg is content that is hidden by the developer within a program. Easter eggs often take the form of secret messages or jokes, but they can also alter the way a program behaves.

Wired spotlights one developer's struggle to gain app approval:

Apple initially rejected Jelle Prins’ iPhone app Lyrics, which displays lyrics for the songs in your music library, including the profanity contained in some song lyrics. Apple cited that fact as the reason for turning Prins down. So Prins installed a profanity filter and Lyrics got approved.

But he also secretly planted an Easter egg (programmer parlance for a secret feature) into the app for users to unlock the dirty words if they so pleased. All users have to do to unlock the filth is go to the About page, swipe downward three times and select the option to turn off the filter.

Since Apple seemingly doesn't have the manpower to test every application that is submitted for approval, Easter Eggs have a pretty good chance of slipping past the censors.

What do you think? Should more developers take advantage of Easter Eggs to add functionality to iPhone Apps, or is Apple's iron curtain a necessary nuisance that should be respected?

Posted by:
Filed under: Apple • consumer tech • iPhone

Share this on:
Captain Arcain   May 20th, 2009 11:05 am ET

Truth be told, it's understandable that Apple wants it's device to remain a family friendly and "wholesome" device. Keeping it that way retains it's marketability in a much broader spectrum of potential buyers. However, this also means that you've spent hundreds of dollars on a rather nifty gadget that is restricted by someone else in it's use. Remember, you're buying the hardware... You're only renting the operating system and you agree to those terms when you sign up for an account. *Can* they do that? Yes. Because you agree to it. *Should* they do that? Well, no. We're all big boys and girls and we should have the choice to put whatever we want on the iPhone or whatever other device we spend a heap of money on. That's why parental controls and filters were invented.

Robert   May 20th, 2009 11:45 am ET

I couldn't agree with the Captain more. If we're concerned about content then we need to do the parenting, not Apple. It's my responsibilty as a father to know what my child is up to. If I want the uncensored lyrics, that's my business. I should get to decide what's indecent and what's not. It's a subjective thing that an Apple croony shouldn't be doing for me. I'm so tired of others telling me what I should and shouldn't be exposed to. It hasn't worked since the fabled garden of eden and it never will.

Ubik   May 20th, 2009 2:15 pm ET

This draconian control Apple has over what I can or cannot install on my phone is a major factor in why I bought the Android G1 phone instead of the iPhone. I know I could have jailbreaked my iPhone but I don't want to go through the extra effort.

Duke Nukem   May 20th, 2009 5:22 pm ET

Is there an app that lets you play Duke Nukem on an iPhone? That was a sweet game.

Kevyn   May 20th, 2009 6:26 pm ET

We don't have this problem on Android. My G1 phone does everything the iPhone does, and more. There's an app to display lyrics (whatever they may contain), and apps can also be installed from the web (without hacking) as well as the Market (like the App Store).

Apply needs to let either people use their devices the way they want, or give them away for free (with all the restrictions they see fit).

Bill   May 21st, 2009 12:23 pm ET

Fine, let Apple do it. Not like we need to let them, they will do it anyways, but really, any efforts to go against the grain could be better spent on transitioning your business from Apple to a company that sells products that allow you to enjoy them the way you want to.

The best way to protest Apple's control is with your dollars, not Easter Eggs. Granted, Easter Eggs are a hilarious and inyourface type of retort to Apple's stance on various apps, and I hope it keeps up. However, as a consumer, not a developer, we have the power of our money.

I, for one, have gone through recent unemployment and financial hardships. When I do get back on my feet, I want to get a nice modern phone with all the up2date amenities that one expects. I won't be purchasing an iPhone, though, believe that.

If you don't like the lyrics, stop listening; if you don't like the violence, stop watching and change the channel; likewise, if we don't like the restrictions, buy another product. The debate should NEVER be about how valid or "moral" Apple's policy is becuase we are not forced to own one. The debate should be about what other product is available that provides the service you want, and whether that other product is worth buying.

Jenny   May 22nd, 2009 7:06 am ET

I'm sorry, but "We" are not ALL "big boys and girls". You see, not everyone who uses a smart phone is actually an adult.

My children, and others like them, use the iPhone to play games when we are waiting in a restaurant or doctors office, and just about every middle-schooler at my son's school has a smart phone of some kind.

Having Apple screen out objectionable material makes the phone and service much more appealing to me. If they were to allow 'any and all' apps on the phone, then I would need a 'parental control' feature in order to keep the service.

Mark   May 22nd, 2009 11:26 am ET

If it were up to me, I'd have parental controls set up so that I could choose my "rating authority" – either Apple, or some other rating group; access to the ratings should be through a published API – and then set application access by those ratings for my children. I can understand Apple rating an application "useless," "pornographic," or "a complete waste of your money," but if it's MY phone, and MY money, I should be able to regulate myself.

Software is essentially the tangible expression of the market of ideas, and Apple is attempting to assume control over that market, at least in the case of the iPhone. I'm a huge Apple fan, and have made my living with the Mac for over 20 years, but Apple's regulation based upon what content they like and what content they don't is certainly the height of arrogance.

gg   May 22nd, 2009 1:13 pm ET

book nook!

Brad   May 22nd, 2009 3:02 pm ET


I would direct you to the terms of service for the Apple app store.

"2. AGE REQUIREMENTS FOR USE OF THE SERVICE. This Service is available for individuals aged 13 years or older. If you are 13 or older but under the age of 18, you should review these terms and conditions with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand these terms and conditions. "

What this says to me is that you are the parent and should be looking at what your children do. We don't need Apple to censor what we do just because parents are unwilling to watch what their children are doing. Take responsibility for yourselves – don't give Apple the power to control what we as adults should be able to determine for ourselves.

As for "parental control" you are the parent, control it, teach your children the morals and ethics they need to survive in the world today so that they won't need to depend on you to always censor what they are doing.

Kim   May 22nd, 2009 3:20 pm ET

Can you imaging how apple would shove stuff down our throat if they had Microsoft's market share?

Ayan Sharr   May 23rd, 2009 2:30 am ET

The recent Cheney rants are simply his fear of him and buddies being tried as war criminals and going to the slammer . . . why are not the commentators picking up on this?

Oh, Please...   May 24th, 2009 10:41 am ET

Kim –
Really? Shoving stuff down your throat? Are you being handcuffed and forced to use Apple products? Is your family threatened with bodily harm if you're not buying iPhones and apps? Or, as I suspect, are you CHOOSING to use a product that is offered with a VERY CLEAR "Here's how we do it, take it or leave it" set of rules?

A company offers a product. You choose to use it or not. It's not a constitutional right to have everything you demand provided to you at all times.

Santiago   April 1st, 2012 11:23 pm ET

. Your favorite rsoean seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people think about worries that they just don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. ThanksThis is really interesting, You're a very skilled blogger. I've joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post. Also, I've shared your site in my social networks!Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. Iefbfbdll certainly comeback.I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to efbfbdreturn the favorefbfbd.I am trying to find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!Just desire to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is simply nice and i can assume you're an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I'll certainly be back.Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how can we communicate?Hi there, You have done an incredible job. Iefbfbdll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I'm confident they will be benefited from this web site.Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear conceptI am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one today..Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.My brother recommended I might like this blog. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don't know who you are but definitely you're going to a famous blogger if you are not already Cheers!Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.I was recommended this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are amazing! Thanks!Excellent blog here! Also your site loads up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lolWow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, as well as the content!I am not sure where you're getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this information for my mission.You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, Iefbfbdll try to get the hang of it!I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. Itefbfbds pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.I intended to write you this little bit of remark in order to give many thanks over again for the stunning pointers you have contributed at this time. This has been really incredibly generous with people like you to grant unreservedly precisely what a few individuals might have supplied as an e book to help make some profit for themselves, principally given that you could possibly have tried it in case you desired. The smart ideas as well served like the fantastic way to fully grasp some people have similar passion just like my personal own to see whole lot more with regards to this issue. I'm sure there are thousands of more enjoyable occasions up front for those who scan your site.I wish to show appreciation to this writer for rescuing me from this condition. After surfing around throughout the internet and obtaining concepts which are not helpful, I believed my entire life was done. Being alive without the strategies to the problems you have resolved all through your entire short article is a crucial case, as well as the kind which might have negatively damaged my career if I had not come across the website. That expertise and kindness in taking care of almost everything was very helpful. I'm not sure what I would've done if I had not come upon such a subject like this. I can also at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for the specialized and amazing guide. I won't be reluctant to propose your web sites to anybody who will need direction on this subject matter.I wanted to type a simple comment in order to appreciate you for all of the splendid points you are giving out at this site. My time intensive internet lookup has now been paid with reputable suggestions to go over with my close friends. I would assume that we readers actually are very much fortunate to live in a superb network with many special p2000eople with insightful plans. I feel quite lucky to have come across your site and look forward to really more exciting times reading here. Thanks a lot once more for a lot of things.Thank you so much for giving everyone remarkably brilliant possiblity to read articles and blog posts from this blog. It really is very great and as well , jam-packed with a good time for me and my office co-workers to search your blog at the very least three times in one week to read the fresh stuff you will have. Not to mention, I'm just always impressed with your cool things you give. Selected 4 points on this page are basically the finest I have ever had.I have to point out my passion for your kindness for those people who need help on that idea. Your special commitment to passing the message throughout turned out to be incredibly significant and has really empowered others much like me to attain their goals. Your warm and helpful instruction means a whole lot a person like me and additionally to my colleagues. Many thanks; from each one of us.I together with my friends were actually taking note of the nice things located on your web blog then quickly developed a horrible suspicion I never thanked the site owner for those secrets. These people appeared to be consequently stimulated to read all of them and have now undoubtedly been using those things. Thanks for being really considerate and also for selecting variety of ideal things millions of individuals are really eager to learn about. My very own honest apologies for not saying thanks to earlier.I happen to be writing to make you be aware of what a fantastic encounter my child enjoyed checking your web page. She came to understand a lot of things, with the inclusion of what it is like to have a great coaching style to get the mediocre ones just know just exactly chosen extremely tough things. You truly exceeded our expectations. I appreciate you for imparting those helpful, trustworthy, informative and also cool tips on your topic to Mary.I simply had to say thanks once more. I am not sure what I would've gone through without these creative ideas discussed by you regarding this situation. It seemed to be an absolute alarming problem in my opinion, however , understanding this skilled style you handled that forced me to cry for joy. I'm just thankful for this advice and have high hopes you know what an amazing job you were undertaking training others thru your webpage. I am certain you've never encountered all of us.My husband and i got cheerful Chris managed to do his researching because of the ideas he gained through the web page. It is now and again perplexing to simply possibly be giving for free information and facts which often people have been making money from. And we see we need the writer to be grateful to because of that. The specific illustrations you've made, the easy web site navigation, the relationships your site assist to instill it's everything great, and it's really helping our son in addition to the family do think the subject matter is fun, which is certainly unbelievably pressing. Thank you for the whole lot!Thanks for each of your work on this blog. My aunt really likes going through investigation and it's obvious why. A number of us hear all relating to the lively form you render rewarding techniques by means of this blog and in addition inspire participation from others on the area so our simple princess is really discovering a lot of things. Enjoy the remaining portion of the new year. Your carrying out a fabulous job.

graphic design cover letter   August 8th, 2012 7:33 pm ET

I am now not positive the place you are getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend some time studying more or figuring out more. Thank you for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.

apps   January 31st, 2013 1:18 am ET

Thanks for the good writeup. It if truth be told used to be a enjoyment account it. Look complex to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep in touch? apps

cryptocoin reviews   September 10th, 2014 4:38 am ET

Needed to send you this very small remark so as to thank you so much again for these wonderful techniques you have provided in this case. This is really unbelievably open-handed with people like you in giving extensively all a lot of people could have supplied for an electronic book to help make some cash on their own, mostly now that you could have tried it if you ever desired. These tactics as well acted like the easy way to be certain that most people have the same desire the same as my very own to find out more and more regarding this matter. I'm sure there are millions of more pleasant instances in the future for people who look over your site.

Leonel Marturano   February 16th, 2016 6:18 am ET

Congrats. And all of the items featured so far should be in the book.

Leave Your Comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP