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Apple Refuses to Approve App That Alerts You to U.S. Drone Strikes


"...annoying them into drone-consciousness..."

(Image: Vimeo screenshot)

Have you ever cared to know every time there was a U.S. drone strike? Perhaps not, but an app that could have informed you of every drone attack launched by the U.S. with statistics on the location, result and fatalities has been rejected -- three times.

What would be the point of such an app?

“I thought reaching into the pockets of U.S. smartphone users and annoying them into drone-consciousness could be an interesting way to surface the conversation a bit more," Drone+ app developer Josh Begley told Wired.

Take a look at this demonstration of how the app would work:

The app, which pulls together public information of drone strikes from the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, is described by Wired as "deliberately threadbare." It's not your most intricate or flashy of apps. This is one of the reasons Apple rejected the app. Wired notes other rejection letters saying this knowledge would "not [be] useful" and that it considers content of the app “objectionable and crude":

Begley, a student at Clay Shirky’s NYU Media Lab, submitted a threadbare version of Drones+ to Apple in July. About two weeks later, on July 23, Apple told him was just too blah. “The features and/or content of your app were not useful or entertaining enough,” read an e-mail from Apple Begley shared with Wired, “or your app did not appeal to a broad enough audience.”

Finally, on Aug. 27, Apple gave him yet another thumbs down. But this time the company’s reasons were different from the fairly clear-cut functionality concerns it previously cited. “We found that your app contains content that many audiences would find objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines,” the company e-mailed him.

“If the content is found to be objectionable, and it’s literally just an aggregation of news, I don’t know how to change that,” Begley said to Wired.

The tech blog Tecca calls this a "seemingly random rejection" given that the data comes from public sources, not secret intelligence:

Having dabbled in the world of iPhone app development myself, the app doesn't appear to be breaking any of the cardinal rules set forth by Apple, and it's unclear why the very plain GPS data could be seen as "crude."

Begley said he is unsure if he will try to go through Apple with the app for a fourth round. He is considering trying it through Android.

Do you see a value in an drone strike notification app? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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