One might assume that a cell phone manufacturer would look askance at such an app, although that wasn't the reason given.
The app, called tawkon, after the company that developed it, already had a mobile app for BlackBerry and Android that measured how much radiation a cell phone was emitting. The iOS version, however, was awaiting approval and has since been rejected.
In fact, last year, when "antennagate" or the "iPhone 4 Death Grip" issue became big news, tawkon showed that cell phones emit more radiation when they are having difficulty connecting to a wireless network (see video, below). As you might recall, the "iPhone 4 Death Grip" was so named because many users found that if you held the device in a way that bridged the lower left-hand antenna gap in the metal band that serves as antennas for the device, you could see signal attenuation or even dropped calls.
Since the app has been rejected, tawkon has released the app for jailbroken devices, via Cydia. The company said that it tried to use the "front door," via the App Store, but was rejected, even after appealing directly to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs said in a curt email reply:
"No interest."meaning Apple was not interested in the app. Here's what tawkon said:
Regardless of how concerned an individual is with risks caused by cellphone radiation, there is enough scientific findings to justify taking precautionary measures, especially for people (and their kids) who use their phone a lot, with many years of cumulative exposure. The Interphone Study, for example, indicated that “talking on a handset for more than half an hour a day could increase the risk of developing brain cancer by up to 40 per cent”.Although the app is available for jailbroken devices, tawkon wants into the App Store, and has set up a petition to get the app into the App Store. Based on history, it's a lot easier to get an app out of the App Store than to get a rejected on into the App Store.
We therefore believe that giving people the choice to see and take precautionary measures (as advised by many governments & health reports worldwide) is akin to letting people see the speedometer in their car so they can use informed judgment to drive better. The City of San Francisco’s Right-to-Know ordinance “requiring retailers to disclose Specific Absorption Rate values for cell phones” further emphasizes the public right to know this information and the right to choose to use their phones with the lowest possible exposure to cellphone radiation.
We also find it strange that the Apple user manual instructs users to not hold the iPhone close to your head, but Steve Jobs is “not interested” in an app that shows real-time exposure. If he used tawkon he’d know that most of the time the iPhone doesn’t reach it’s maximum labeled SAR levels. However when it does, it’s very easy to lower exposure by heeding tawkon instructions – like “go back” to previous location, “activate speakerphone”, “hold your phone vertically” or activate headset while traveling fast, among other actions.
Whether or not cell phone radiation is actually dangerous is a contentious issue, and so far no study has conclusively proven harm. That said, many believe in being overcautious, rather than undercautious.
The app is free on all platforms, and can be found via tawkon's website, linked above.