Apple wants to restrict this ChatGPT-using email app for a rather interesting reason

An iPhone beside a laptop.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Apple has blocked an update to email client BlueMail, which added the ChatGPT chatbot into its software, requiring the developer first insert content filtering or age restrictions before it can be released.

This is Apple's policy for apps that produce some form of AI generated content. Apple's App Review division told Blix that as AI could produce content that may be unsuitable for younger audiences, one of the two above provisions must be applied before release. 

However, Ben Volach, co-founder of BlueMail developer Blix Inc., disputed Apple's ruling, arguing that BlueMail already has content filtering, and that other apps on the App Store with similar AI capabilities do not have age restrictions in place. 

'Unfairly targeted'

The new AI feature in BlueMail integrates OpenAI's ever popular ChatGPT chatbot into the email client, letting users automate the writing of emails. It makes use of previous emails and events in your calendar to make sure its content is appropriate.

“Apple is making it really hard for us to bring innovation to our users,” said Volach. According to the WSJ, a spokesperson told them that the App Review Board is currently investigating the complaint made by Blix.

Volach also claims that a test version of the updated version of the app was reviewed every day for a week before it was rejected by Apple. However, the Android version of the upgraded app was allowed on the Google Play Store with no age restrictions or content filtering imposed. 

He believes that BlueMail is being unfairly targeted by Apple, and that age restrictions would impact their ability to distribute the app to new users. 

Apple seems more concerned about the risks of AI than other big tech companies. It has been conspicuously absent from the current arms race between Microsoft - a large backer of OpenAI who have recently inserted its chatbot models into its search engine Bing - and Google, with its new rival chatbot Bard and its supposedly incredibly powerful LamDA AI. 

It's perhaps only a matter of time before it joins in - in an earnings call last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that AI is a "major focus of ours" - but for now, it seems to be keeping a watchful eye on the AI on iOS apps. 

Bing's new smartphone app with AI integration is restricted to 17+ on the iphone, whereas there are no restrictions for the Android version on the Google Play Store. Although a Microsoft spokesperson told the WSJ that has always been the case due to its ability as a standard web browser to show adult content. 

“We want fairness,” said Volach. “If we’re required to be 17-plus, then others should also have to.”

Lewis Maddison
Staff Writer

Lewis Maddison is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro. His area of expertise is online security and protection, which includes tools and software such as password managers. 

His coverage also focuses on the usage habits of technology in both personal and professional settings - particularly its relation to social and cultural issues - and revels in uncovering stories that might not otherwise see the light of day.

He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of London, with a year spent studying abroad in the sunny climes of Malta.