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Missing app

Technology | Protest prompts Apple to remove Christian app

Issue: "Daniel of the Year," Dec. 18, 2010

Christian bloggers praised Apple for banning porn apps from its online store earlier this year, but recently the computer company showed that its censor cuts both ways. Over Thanksgiving, Apple removed from its store the Manhattan Declaration app, which contained a statement of Christian beliefs about marriage, life, and religious freedom. The app went up on the Apple store beginning in mid-October and rated 4+ (for "no objectionable material"), but change.org-an activist website for causes like gay marriage-collected about 8,000 signatures petitioning Apple to remove the app, calling it a "hate fest."

Catholic scholar Robert George of Princeton University was the chief writer of the Manhattan Declaration, which calls signers to reject "disdainful condemnation" of those they disagree with and remember that all humans are created in the image of God. It has nearly half a million signatures and garnered support from Christian groups as diverse as Focus on the Family and Evangelicals for Social Action. The app had allowed users to sign the document virtually, take a survey, and access information about events. The Manhattan Declaration organizers have asked Apple head Steve Jobs to reconsider the app removal.

Your cellphone makes phone calls, browses the web, picks up your email, and entices you to play games. Now, Google wants it to act like a credit card. The technology giant's CEO, Eric E. Schmidt, recently demonstrated a phone that uses near-field communication (or NFC) technology, which allows people simply to tap the phone on a sticker-like symbol and perform an action, such as paying for something. Schmidt said that using such a technology for purchasing could be more fraud-proof than traditional credit cards, since both the person and the phone would need to be present to make the purchase. Schmidt also noted that phones using NFC technology could sense when a user walks into a store: The phones could track shopping preferences and tell customers where to find a specific product.

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Boom or bust?

Demand for online education-once thought to be a passing trend-shows no signs of slowing down. In fall 2009, colleges enrolled 5.6 million students in at least one web-based course, according to a survey of 2,600 higher education institutions. That number represents an increase of 1 million students-21 percent-over the previous year. Reasons for this increase include the economy, improved technology, high demand for education, and an increase in the number of institutions offering online courses. Many of those courses are offered by for-profit institutions, and that "weakness" could stop online momentum: The idea of investors profiting through building new schools is not popular in the Obama administration's Department of Education. New rules handed down last month will result in more government regulation of these schools, and that will delight some brick-and-mortar stalwarts who are rapidly losing market share.

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