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Apple has refused an update to the email app BlueMail that adds generative AI features based on ChatGPT unless the developer gives it a 17+ age restriction, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move has sparked controversy among developers, who are accusing Apple of unfair treatment.
The update to BlueMail uses OpenAI’s latest ChatGPT chatbot API to help write emails using content from previous emails and calendar events. However, Apple’s App Store review team expressed concerns that AI-powered language tools could generate inappropriate content for children, requesting that the app increases its age restriction to age 17 or older, or include content filtering. BlueMail’s current age restriction is age four or older.
Blix Inc., the developer behind BlueMail, insists that the app already has content filtering and that placing a substantially higher age restriction could stop it from attracting new potential users. The developer also claims that other apps that promote ChatGPT-like capabilities do not have such stringent age restrictions.
Normally, 17 or older age restrictions on the App Store include apps with offensive language, sexual content, or references to drugs. Blix argues that BlueMail does not contain any of these elements, leading to accusations of unfair treatment.
A spokesperson for Apple said that developers are able to dispute such decisions via the App Review Board appeal process and it is investigating Blix’s complaint. However, Microsoft’s recently updated version of Bing that includes ChatGPT functionality has a 17 or older age restriction on Apple’s App Store, while there is no such rating for the version of the app on Google’s Play Store, suggesting it is a requirement from Apple.
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This move by Apple indicates that the company is already cementing strict requirements around new AI apps amid concerns about its ability to moderate generated content. While the company recently held its annual AI summit for employees, the following sessions reportedly focused on aspects like healthcare, privacy, and computer vision, rather than its own generative AI technologies.