Apple Disables Promo Codes for App Store Applications with Mature (17+) Ratings

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TUAW reports that with the introduction of age-based ratings for App Store applications in iPhone OS 3.0, Apple has taken the step of preventing developers of applications carrying mature (ages 17+) ratings from issuing promo codes for the affected applications. Developers are typically allowed to distribute up to 50 promo codes for any given application release, allowing developers the flexibility to offer media free access to the applications for reviews or offer giveaways for promotional purposes.
Typically, when a developer uploads a new version of an application to the App Store, they have the ability to create up to 50 promo codes, which they can then provide to media outlets for reviewing the application, give away to users in a contest, etc. Aside from some reasonable restrictions on their usage (you can't sell them, they expire after 28 days and are one-time use only), promo codes provide quite a bit of flexibility to developers of paid apps who wish to freely distribute their app to select individuals without having to worry about the hassles of exchanging device information and doing special ad-hoc builds.
Apple's restriction on promo codes for applications rated 17+ apparently stems from the fact that parental warnings are not currently displayed when redeeming promo codes. The practice is forcing developers of such applications to consider more cumbersome methods of offering free copies of their releases, from distributing ad-hoc builds through the developer channel to offering iTunes gift cards covering the cost of the applications.

As TUAW notes, the category of applications rated 17+ extends far beyond the adult-themed applications that have gained attention, even including otherwise-harmless applications that include an embedded Web browser function or provide access to third-party data.
And if you're thinking this just applies to the massive number of adult-oriented apps that have recently poured into the App Store, you're wrong. Apple specifies that any application that may contain high levels of offensive language, violence, sexual content, or references to drugs or alcohol receive a rating of 17+. But, according to Apple, apps that feature an embedded web browser or provide access to 3rd party content also automatically require the 17+ rating, regardless of the application's content or intended audience.
Article Link: Apple Disables Promo Codes for App Store Applications with Mature (17+) Ratings
 

tbobmccoy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 24, 2007
933
164
Austin, TX
Bad apple

I'm getting pretty tired of Apple's censoring fervor. People getting the promo codes in the first place are extremely (EXTREMELY) unlikely to be under 17 in the first place. This a bad move. :mad:
 

pdjudd

macrumors 601
Jun 19, 2007
4,037
65
Plymouth, MN
Wow. This is totally confusing. I don;t know why Apple would do this. Obviously I think their intention is preventing kids from getting access to adult apps (a noble goal), but what they need to do is find a way to better define what is "mature". That definition can get waay out of hand.

And or course Apple even, without warning provides unlimited access to way worse content than they will ever offer in the store - via Safari. Apple needs to understand that they cannot stop it entirely. I understand that they do not want to endorse this, but there has to be a point where Apple can say "we are only liable to this point. If you go any further, you might access material that may be offensive to you and cannot be controlled or monitored by Apple". They can cover the basics like security problems and the like, but they cannto hold back the internet. They will have to realize that sooner or later.
 

mattrobs

macrumors member
Jun 10, 2008
75
0
Worth repeating: any app that touches the Internet must be rated 17+.

I would really like to know who is heading the App Store division so I can punch him in the throat. He's clearly gone mad.
 

griz

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
581
220
New London, NH
But, according to Apple, apps that feature an embedded web browser or provide access to 3rd party content also automatically require the 17+ rating, regardless of the application's content or intended audience.
This is getting a little too aggressive. Would be comparable to a hardware store that sells doors to require you to be 17+ because after you install the door you might open it and step out in to the scary big world.
 

float1975

macrumors newbie
Jul 2, 2009
7
0
this is just another app review sad joke

so now it seems any web app that works as browser with a url box has to be rated +17 just like any xxx app !
even though one pushes mature content and the other doesnt...

all apple processing in the last months has been terrible and this is just another example

they provide no info at all to developers,
allow them to set ratings just to keep rejecting updates until we put the rating they require !
it would be better if they set these ratings automatically, but i guess it would sound too censorship-alike so its better to keep this stupid approach that is just wasting resources, media would not like
this way is just some more dev mumbo jumbo...

likewise this new concept of not allowing +17 apps to use promos codes is just ridiculous, as i assume the restriction set on the end device will be respected regardless of the promo code being for +17 or +4 app so it makes no sense at all, as usual with app review related stuff

it is also intriguing why they let in a slew of xxx apps to now take this kind of damaging behavior to all the other non xxx apps that are treated same way, is it was already intriguing that apps that were accepted into app store are not allowed to have working promo codes but is totally ridiculous if it is applied to all the other apps

it was one of the few promo mechanisms available to devs, gone now
 

Compile 'em all

macrumors 601
Apr 6, 2005
4,105
210
Again, how are we supposed to give out free copies for review?

I remember the dev of iHomework had to remove the integrated web browser from an update because it would raise his app rating to 17+, which would make it useless for most students.

This is getting ridiculous.
 

SpinThis!

macrumors 6502
Jan 30, 2007
462
101
Inside the Machine (Green Bay, WI)
Apple's restriction on promo codes for applications rated 17+ apparently stems from the fact that parental warnings are not currently displayed when redeeming promo codes.
Before everyone gets all huffy and puffy about censorship, this really sounds like a technical programming faux pas than a flat out censorship decision to me. Appears as Apple didn't cover their bases here when they implemented promo codes into the ratings system—let's give them the benefit of the doubt and a little time to sort this out which I'm sure will happen eventually. If you're a developer file a bug report.
 

labman

macrumors 604
Jun 9, 2009
7,786
1
Mich near Detroit
Come On Apple

My Daughter is 13 and I am the one that monitors what she see's & listen's too that's my job! :rolleyes: yes it's nice control for those that can't but to take away it away from everybody bad move! hopefully this is temporary!
 

BaldiMac

macrumors 604
Jan 24, 2008
7,411
7,496
Before everyone gets all huffy and puffy about censorship, this really sounds like a technical programming faux pas than a flat out censorship decision to me. Appears as Apple didn't cover their bases here when they implemented promo codes into the ratings system—let's give them the benefit of the doubt and a little time to sort this out which I'm sure will happen eventually. If you're a developer file a bug report.
Good analysis.
 

TheSlush

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2007
658
22
New York, NY
Apple's restriction on promo codes for applications rated 17+ apparently stems from the fact that parental warnings are not currently displayed when redeeming promo codes.
Perhaps I'm being a bit thick here, but couldn't Apple simply arrange to have parental warnings be displayed when redeeming promo codes? Problem solved? No? Bueller?

I'm always annoyed when "protecting the little children" is allowed to completely disrupt adult life in totally unnecessary ways.
 

float1975

macrumors newbie
Jul 2, 2009
7
0
they deserve exactly the same amount of benefit of doubt / respecty they provide to their partners, the developers

none at all

if apple had any intention of correcting app review and management processes it would have already done so
 

tbrinkma

macrumors 68000
Apr 24, 2006
1,651
93
Perhaps I'm being a bit thick here, but couldn't Apple simply arrange to have parental warnings be displayed when redeeming promo codes? Problem solved? No? Bueller?
Somehow, I suspect that's exactly what they're working on. It'll require a software update though.

If promo codes don't currently display the warning, then it sounds like two current scenarios are possible.
1) The person with the promo code can get an app even if their parents have set it to *not* allow that rating.
2) The person redeems the promo code, but doesn't have access to the app because their parents have set it to not allow that rating.

Either one of those is a potential problem from a legal stand point, so Apple is likely fixing the system to show the parental warnings regardless of the purchase method, but has temporarily disabled promo codes for 'mature' apps in the mean-time as a CYA measure.
 
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