Jobs says 'no' to iPhone radiation app

Apple has rejected Tawkon, an iPhone app that measures smartphone radiation.

An iPhone app that measures smartphone radiation and offers tips on minimizing absorption has been nuked by Steve Jobs.

At least that's the story the makers of Tawkon are telling. Despite "great discussions with senior Apple executives at their Cupertino headquarters," the Tawkon team said Apple ultimately rejected the radiation-detecting iPhone app. An appeal to Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs went nowhere.

"No interest," Jobs reportedly wrote in an e-mail to Tawkon.

The Tawkon app measures a phone's Specific Absorption rate, environmental factors and physical position to determine how much radiation you're soaking up. It then provides tips, along the lines of "hold phone vertically" or "go back" to your previous location.

Neither Tawkon nor Apple are saying why, exactly, the app was rejected, but the issue could be the amount of information third-party iPhone apps are allowed to access. Tawkon's blog does mention that Apple "explored various technical solutions with us to overcome API restrictions," so my guess is that Tawkon needed to access certain data that most apps can't have, and Apple didn't want to relent.

Of course, that's not a problem for jailbroken iPhone apps, so with Apple's rejection, Tawkon took its app to the Cydia app store. It's also available for select Android phones and Blackberry phones.

Cell phone radiation is a touchy subject. There's no hard evidence that cell phone radiation causes cancer, but the Federal Communications Commission does limit the Specific Absorption Rate of all phones on the market. If you've got a non-jailbroken iPhone and are still afraid of radiation, consider using a protective case. It's probably safer than getting advice from an app, anyway.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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