Apple Rejects ChatGPT-Powered Email App Update; Demands Age Restriction (Report)

BlueMail can’t add AI features to App Store offering without limiting kids’ access because of potentially inappropriate content

Apple has delayed an update of an email app with AI-powered language tools because of worries that it could generate content that’s not safe for kids.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple blocked the update of BlueMail because of a new artificial intelligence powered feature in the app, citing Ben Volach, co-founder of BlueMail developer Blix Inc., and documents it viewed.

BlueMail uses ChatGPT, the chatbot created by OpenAI with support from Microsoft, to help automate writing emails based on the user’s prior missives and calendar events

The Journal said Apple’s app-review team told the developer last week, “Your app includes AI-generated content but does not appear to include content filtering at this time.”

Apple wanted the company to move up its age restriction to 17 or older, or include content filtering, in order to shield kids from any inappropriate content generated by the chatbot. The current restriction is set for users as young as 4 years.

Volach maintained that the request is unfair and that other apps with similar AI functions are already allowed in the App Store without age restrictions.

“Apple is making it really hard for us to bring innovation to our users,” Volach told the Journal, adding that the update was accepted by Google’s Play Store without any age restrictions.

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

ChatGPT was released in November and immediately surged in popularity, soaring to 100 million monthly active users in its first two months. Interest remains high — its website saw 672 million visits in January — but it has generated wide concerns along with human-like content, including being banned in schools across the country, among them the country’s largest school system in New York City.

After Microsoft’s Bing search engine released an update powered by ChatGPT last month, concerns surfaced about responses generated by the chatbot, such as incorrect information and angry comments.

Microsoft released an updated version of the Bing smartphone app with the ChatGPT function in the Apple App Store, the Journal noted. It is listed with a 17-and-older restriction because of the app’s ability to find adult content, a Microsoft spokesman told the news outlet.