While the majority of apps for our mobile devices are useful or just good fun, a few go too far. Some app developers seem intent on crossing the line of good taste to get our attention. And in some cases that’s gotten them tossed from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Web-based, free, available
This Facebook app allows you to choose which of your friends you’d like to get it on with and will disclose a connection only if your friend feels the same about you. There's nothing wrong with a little consensual fun, but shopping through photos of your friends in search of a shag is a bit creepy. For an extra touch of class, the "How It Works" page features the F-word in its URL and matches the steps in using the site with illustrations of the steps for applying a condom.
iOS, free, available
If you believe the National Rifle Association, the increasing gun violence in this country is a result of violent video games. That said, less than a month after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the NRA came out with a first person shooting game of its own. The object is to shoot the various — inanimate — targets that appear in the line of view. While the game is not necessarily violent, the timing could not have been worse.
BlackBerry, $1.99, available
There is no shortage of Asian-pinup-girl apps, but this is an example of how they have spread beyond iOS and Android to the BlackBerry World app store, as well (where this app is the top-rated). “Sexy Asians” promises pictures of scantily clad Asian women that can be used as backgrounds for your home screen, incoming calls and the like. Sex sells, the saying goes, but these are unlikely to be the killer apps that will rescue a floundering mobile brand.
iOS, 99 cents, available
When Sir Mix-A-Lot released “Baby Got Back” in 1992, the humorous video and catchy beat made his ode to big butts an instant hit. But an app released in 2011 to celebrate the song is not so good-natured. This app includes the Ba Dunka Dunk game in which you must maneuver with dancing big-bootied (and busty) African American women wearing thongs into a pair of pants. With the “Mix Makeover,” you tap the screen to enlarge body parts in someone's photo into a physical stereotype, then share them to Facebook.
iOS, 99 cents, available
This iPhone app claims to analyze your face and tell you how unattractive you are. The scale is from 1 to 10, with 1 being supermodel status and 10, well — you guessed it. Be prepared for some nasty insults from this app if you score high, which caused the Family Safety Online Institute to say that Ugly Meter promotes cyberbulling. Not ugly enough? Use the app’s “Make Me Ugly” feature to up your score.
iOS, banned Mar. 2012
Checking into Foursquare in March 2012 had extra risks for women. The Girls Around Me app used the check-in data from the service to display to could-be stalkers the details on nearby women, such as photos and location. While the reaction from some circles was immediate and harsh, causing Foursquare to cut off the app's access and Apple to remove it from the App Store altogether, others were skeptical of its real risks.
iOS, banned Apr. 2009
Sikalosoft’s app, released in April, 2009, was deadly simple. The baby starts crying. Your goal is to quiet the baby by shaking it. When X’s appear over the baby’s eyes, you’ve won — because the baby is dead. The humor was lost on just about everybody, considering Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) injures or kills up to 1,600 infants every year. Apple pulled the app, and both companies apologized for its content.
Android, banned Jan. 2013
These two apps on Google Play by Kimberly Deiss allowed you to see what you'd look like if you were another race — a racial stereotype, that is. Make Me Asian adds slanted eyes, a Fu Manchu mustache and yellow skin to a photograph you shot with your phone. Make Me Indian allows the addition of face paint, darkened skin and a feathered headband. Deiss then outdid herself with Make Me Black and Make Me Auschwitz, but it looks like Google has had enough. As all these apps have been removed from Google Play.
Android, $4.99, available
You know you've struck a bad chord when the poster child for what your app promotes denounces it. This app from 2011 allows you to pit two canines together in a fight to the death. You could even feed your dog steroids or outfit it in protective gear to last longer in the ring. When KG dogfighting was released, NFL star and former dogfighter Michael Vick said “I think it's important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify animal cruelty — even in an Android app.”
iOS, banned 2011. Now available for PC/Mac
Here’s the plot of this 2011 game: Your truck is filled to the brim with Mexican-looking passengers, and your goal is to get as many as you can safely across the border — that is, without killing them by ejecting them from the truck. The game developer, Owlchemy Labs, described Smuggle Truck as “hilarious physics-based driving gameplay while trying to transport your cargo over the border.” Note it said "cargo," not even "people."
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