Getting around Apple’s app store policies with easter eggs

Tue, May 19, 2009


There was a time, back when boys were boys, that the Mac OS was littered with fun and quirky easter eggs, which are essentially little messages or images from developers that can only be seen if a user knows how to access them, usually via a sequence of keystrokes or desktop actions.

The ubiquity of Apple easter eggs, however, started to dwindle once Steve Jobs returned to the helm in 1997.  But a mere 12 years later, easter eggs are back baby.. well sort of.

Apple’s somewhat draconian rule over the iTunes App Store has been the target of a lot of criticism.  Though most app disputes eventually get resolved, Apple has in the past been quick to reject apps due to profanity, nudity, violence, and even 7th grade humor (iFart anyone?).  Now, it turns out that some app developers are becoming quite crafty in their efforts to skirt around Apple’s ever watchful eye.

Wired reports that some developers are implementing easter eggs, so to speak, that unlock content that Apple might otherwise find objectionable.

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.

“It’s almost impossible for Apple to see if there’s an Easter egg because they can’t really see the source code,” Prins said. “In theory a developer could make a simple Easter egg in their app and provide a user with whatever content they want.”

Developers of course might run the risk of being banned, perhaps permanently, from the app store if they happen to put, as an example, an extremely obscene easter egg buried deep within an application.  I guess the conundrum is that you’d like the easter egg to be well-known enough for users to know how to access it, but not so newsworthy that Apple gets wind of the fact that they’ve been duped!

Hey, when you use the word ‘duped’, you gotta follow it up with an exclamation point.. am I right?!


, ,

Comments are closed.

eXTReMe Tracker