Apple feels reporting drone strikes is ‘objectionable & crude’; rejects app
August 31, 2012
It seems that today you can’t spit in the wind without hitting a story about some US drone killing a bunch of people in a country somewhere overseas. Every known drone strike is accompanied by news reports of the location and the number of people killed. Yet, even with all these stories about drone strikes, it can a daunting task for those interested in following them to keep up with them all. So what is a drone enthusiast, or someone just appalled by the frequency of the strikes, to do?
One creative iPhone developer, Josh Begley, took the time to create an app that sought out news articles about drone strikes. When it would find one, it would send a push notification to the owner of the iPhone and then display a Google map of the area with a push pin of the location of the strike. He had hoped to have it released in the wild by now, but Apple keeps rejecting his application.
It’s the third time in a month that Apple has turned Drones+ away, says Josh Begley, the program’s New York-based developer. The company’s reasons for keeping the program out of the App Store keep shifting. First, Apple called the bare-bones application that aggregates news of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia “not useful.” Then there was an issue with hiding a corporate logo. And now, there’s this crude content problem.
It’s this last rejection that has Josh scratching his head. How can a news aggregating application be in any way crude or objectionable? Yes, I know that many people feel that news reports from the mainstream media could easily be classified as such, but that is beside the point. This app provides a useful service for those who want to keep abreast of the latest news regarding drone strikes. It doesn’t show graphic images or other caricatures of the attacks, merely a push pin and a link to the story. If it is the content that is objectionable, he may just turn to a less strict operating system for the next version.
Begley is about at his wits end over the iOS version of Drones+. “I’m kind of back at the drawing board about what exactly I’m supposed to do,” Begley said. The basic idea was to see if he could get App Store denizens a bit more interested in the U.S.’ secretive, robotic wars, with information on those wars popping up on their phones the same way an Instagram comment or retweet might. Instead, Begley’s thinking about whether he’d have a better shot making the same point in the Android Market.
Its this kind of rejection of an interesting and thought provoking app that will turn people away from walled gardens. We talked recently about Microsoft’s moves toward further locking down Windows resulting in developers seeking the more open alternative of Linux. The same will happen with the iPhone. As more developers continue to have their apps rejected with little to no context, those developers will become much more frustrated with the whole process and leave for Android. Is this really the lesson that Apple wants young developers taking from this and similar experiences?