Apple, for Now, Blocks Radiation app for iPhone

The Internet is in a tizzy about Apple blocking an iPhone app that shows the outbound radiation, but the issue is complex, especially with respect to the radiation science and consumer knowledge and expectations.

A company in Israel, Tawkon, has developed an app for the BlackBerry, which is shipping, that shows the phone’s radio emission strength. However, according to The Register, Apple is barring the app from the App Store, and the developers are urgently taking their case public.

“It doesn’t use Flash, and it’s not porn, so why the ban?” asks Scott Piro, a spokesman for Tawkon, the developer.

However, everything is not as simple as it seems. First, The Register notes that Apple simply wants some simple API changes, and there’s no evidence that Apple wants to deep-six the app.

In addition, questions have been raised. How does the app work exactly? Given the fact that mobiles phones have to meet FCC standards in the U.S., what is gained by the use of the app besides the possibility of consumer misunderstandings? Can the government defined levels be trusted? The Register properly looked into these issues as well.

In September, ZDNET tested smartphones and listed top ten with the highest radiation output. No version of the iPhone was on that list, and the 3GS was in the middle of the pack at 1.19 W/kg.

While a technically astute customer might be able to make use of such a meter, the author, Rik Myslewski puts it in a nutshell: “We’ll wager that it’d be the rare person you’d stop on the street who could give you a well-reasoned damage prediction based on specific absorption rate (SAR) specs, which is the metric used in the aforementioned ratings.”

For now, the PR battle by Tawkon rages on, and Apple has to decide whether to release the app and make the kerfuffle just go away.