Apple has blocked an update to email client BlueMail that included the ChatGPT chatbot, requiring the developer to first add content filtering or age restrictions before the update can be released.
This is Apple’s policy for apps that generate AI-generated content. According to Apple’s App Review division, because AI may produce content that is inappropriate for younger audiences, one of the two above provisions must be applied before release.
However, Ben Volach, co-founder of BlueMail developer Blix Inc., argued that BlueMail already has content filtering and that other apps on the App Store with similar AI capabilities do not have age restrictions.
BlueMail’s new AI feature integrates OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT chatbot into the email client, allowing users to automate email writing. It checks previous emails and calendar events to ensure the content is appropriate.
“Apple is making it very difficult for us to bring innovation to our users,” Volach said. A spokesperson for the App Review Board told the WSJ that the App Review Board is currently investigating Blix’s complaint.
Volach also claims that a test version of the updated app was reviewed every day for a week before Apple rejected it. The Android version of the upgraded app, on the other hand, was allowed on the Google Play Store with no age restrictions or content filtering.
He believes that Apple is unfairly targeting BlueMail and that age restrictions will limit their ability to distribute the app to new users.
Apple appears to be more concerned about the risks of AI than other major technology companies. It has been conspicuously absent from the current arms race between Microsoft, a major supporter of OpenAI, and Google, which has recently integrated its chatbot models into its search engine Bing.
Apple may eventually join in – in an earnings call last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that AI is a “major focus of ours” – but for the time being, it appears to be keeping a close eye on the AI in iOS apps.
On the iPhone, Bing’s new smartphone app with AI integration is restricted to 17+, whereas the Android version on the Google Play Store has no restrictions. Although a Microsoft spokesperson told the WSJ that this has always been the case due to its ability to display adult content as a standard web browser.
“We want fairness,” Volach stated. “If we’re required to be 17 or older, then others should be as well.”