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Android and adult content: from skirting the Play Store, to VR and double standards
If you’re interested in a spot of sex and violence, which mobile platform should you choose? Does it actually make much of a difference? Is there more adult content in the Play Store than there is in the App Store? What about violent games or other kinds of content that might be considered adult? What’s the most moral platform of them all? Let’s dive in and see what we can find.
“You know, there’s a porn store for Android. You can download nothing but porn. You can download porn, your kids can download porn. That’s a place we don’t want to go – so we’re not going to go there.”
You can probably guess who said that back in 2010. According to TechCrunch he followed it up with an email to a customer which said, “…we do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy and Android phone.”
Those comments were partly prompted by the revelation that Apple had rejected an app from a cartoonist, who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize, because it ridiculed public figures. A decision Jobs tried to reverse after it came to public attention and raised questions about Apple’s policies.
Is the Play Store rife with adult content?
Looking beyond his hyperbole, there’s no doubt that Apple was much heavier-handed in rejecting apps from the App Store for a wide range of offenses against morality than Google was back in 2010. But that has definitely changed. Google did some Play Store spring cleaning last year and changed the Developer Content Policy. Sexually explicit material now tops the list of no-no’s, with violence in second place.
Do a search for porn in the Play Store today and you get Dailymotion, Hola, Firefox, uTorrent, and Netflix in the top row of results. The only vaguely pornographic-looking apps are some 3D virtual bikini model simulator and an app that scrapes “fitness” videos from YouTube. You’re still not going to find porn in the App Store either. You’ll find plenty of pseudo porn, like bikini model apps in both, but Google definitely appears more relaxed on the whole than Apple does.
In the interests of being thorough we searched the Windows Store and BlackBerry App World too. There’s no porn on Microsoft’s beat, and BlackBerry just highlights apps to hide your photos and browsing alongside the surprising Sex Fantasies for Women, but there’s nothing you’d describe as porn.
Who uses apps for porn anyway?
The whole point is surely rendered moot by the fact that everybody uses the browser for porn. If Jobs was serious about keeping porn off the iPhone, he’d have had to block porn sites in Safari. According to Pornhub’s insights for 2014, most traffic came from Android devices (49.9%), compared to 40.5% from iOS, 2.6% from Windows, and 1.4% from BlackBerry.
Considering that Android’s market share was up nearer 80% for the year, IDC says 81.5%. That actually means iOS users are watching proportionally a lot more porn. But, those results are skewed because iPhone ownership is higher in the States and that’s where Pornhub gets most of its traffic.
What about violence and other adult content?
You can find marijuana related apps on both platforms, although Eaze, which actually allows you to order medical marijuana in California, seems to have been rejected on iOS.
There are plenty of violent games on Android and iOS. Play Carmageddon on your phone today and it’s hard to imagine it was ever banned. Back in the day the morally outraged brigade got all hot and bothered about the fact you score points for mowing down pedestrians. It doesn’t really get much more morally questionable than GTA, but you’ll find near enough the complete series in both stores.
It was a safe bet that Postal was never going to be released on iOS, but some people were surprised when Google rejected it due to “gratuitous violence”. Particularly when the Amazon Appstore allowed it. That brings us neatly to a major difference between Android and iOS.
Venturing outside the Play Store
If you’re really looking for adult apps, you can find them much easier on Android devices, you just have to look outside the Play Store. Tap that box to install from “Unknown sources” and you can sideload as much filth as you want. Mikandi [NSFW link] is bidding to be “The World’s Largest Adult App Store” and it’s packed with adult Android apps and games. It made a point of welcoming developers rejected by Google or Apple.
Safety and security, and even legality, should always be a concern when browsing the seedier side, so you can imagine there’s a real business opportunity here if someone can develop a safe-to-use adult app store that’s not packed with malware.
What about virtual reality?
You’ll also find VR porn pioneers on Android. Head to BaDoink [NSFW link] and you can access porn videos made for Gear VR, Cardboard, and Oculus Rift headsets. They are so keen to get people onboard that they’re giving away free cardboard VR headsets. If virtual reality is set to kick off a porn revolution, Google might not approve, but it looks like it’s going to be easier to get your VR porn fix on Android than on any other platform.
Google’s Cardboard does work with the iPhone now, but you aren’t going to find any easily accessible VR porn. Will people be willing to jailbreak to get it, assuming someone does develop an iOS app? Or will it be enticing enough to persuade them to jump ship to Android?
Oh, the hypocrisy
It’s still not really clear why Apple or Google feel the need to censor apps and games in the way that they do, when you can find tons of sexually explicit and incredibly violent movies, books, and music in the Play Store or iTunes. Why be moral police about apps, but not other content? Maybe it has something to do with interactivity, or the lack of an official body handing out age ratings. There’s no precedent for them to follow with apps, so they’re making it up as they go along, hence the bizarrely mixed results.
In any case, if adult content is important to you, Android is still the best choice, and it looks set to remain so for the foreseeable future.