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Apple rejects app that reveals unmanned drone attacks

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Apple rejects app that reveals unmanned drone attacks
Three times in one month, developer Josh Begley has tried to get Apple to include his Drones+ app in the App Store and each time he has been, well, shot down. The app shows a map of drone strikes and also sends out a notification each time one of the unmanned drones used by the U.S. military exterminates a bad guy in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Apple's latest rejection letter characterizes the app as being "objectionable and crude." That is just the latest reason given by Cupertino for rejecting Drones+. First, Apple called the app "not useful" and the second rejection was based on a hidden corporate logo.
"I wanted to play with this idea of push notifications and push button technology — essentially asking a question about what we choose to get notified about in real time. 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.-Josh Begley, Drones+ developer

For those worried about the content of the app, there are no pictures of the remains of a target, with a body smoldering in the desert. All Drones+ shows is a map with pointers showing the location of strikes. And the information is public knowledge as it comes from the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Clicking on one the pointers reveals information about the strike, including who the media believed was the target of the strike. At the same time, a notification is sent to your phone to alert you of the drone strike.

This mock-up shows the push notification used in Drones+

This mock-up shows the push notification used in Drones+

Begley, who is a student at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, originally submitted a barebones version of the app in July. On July 23rd, Apple told him in an email, "The features and/or content of your app were not useful or entertaining enough, or your app did not appeal to a broad enough audience." That led the developer to believe that it was the way he presented the information that was the problem. However, after his latest attempt to get his work included in the App Store failed, it appeared that it really was the content that bothered Apple after all. "We found that your app contains content that many audiences would find objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines," read the August 27th rejection email from Cupertino.

You would think that three rejection slips inside of a month would wear down the developer and just force him to give up. Begley's goal was to get iOS users more interested in what is going on overseas, and after all, there are many news apps in the App Store where you can read about the latest drone strike. But Begley also has another option. He's seriously thinking of submitting the app to the Google Play Store.

source: Wired via Gizmodo

40 Comments
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posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:06 6

1. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3755; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Yeah anything that has to do with warfare should not be aloud. I can agree with Apple here. There is just no need for that. When it has to do with the death of human beings it should not be aloud.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:19 12

5. Contreramanjaro (Posts: 153; Member since: 04 Dec 2011)


While I agree it is not in great taste, I think that should not be a reason to not allow it. The information is public and the app only presents it to those interested enough to download the app. Perhaps an age restriction or parental approval required.
Also, the correct word is allowed. Not trying to be mean but my brain read your comment in a nonsensical way at first.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:16 2

11. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3755; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Yeah no one is perfect. Thanks for pointing it out. I have a nasty habit of typing way too fast on my phone. Sometimes the auto correct just lets it fly.

I hope you are always perfect.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 15:26 6

33. Contreramanjaro (Posts: 153; Member since: 04 Dec 2011)


Can't tell if sincere or passive aggressive... I just thought it might have been an honest mistake and I would have wanted someone to correct me if I had done similar. I enjoy learning, a lot. Not everyone feels the same.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:32 4

6. DigitalBoy05 (Posts: 200; Member since: 04 Jun 2011)


I respect your view on the matter but this app really should be allowed in the store as it promotes public awareness. Think back to vietnam... that was the first war we had where we were seeing footage being broadcasted to our televisions and that helped fuel the anti-war movement. I don't see how this is any different than that.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:13 1

9. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3755; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


It's ok to know about the attacks but to pin point actual location is compromising Military intelligence & that is completely wrong. All the Vietnam footage was only that footage. Never did they have GPS pin pointing locations & compromising military intelligence. Shoot a lot of reporters died in Vietnam.

This also happened with Google Maps. Now you can't see sensitive military places through out the world because it compromises Military operations. This app is similar & this type of information can be used against the people who are risking their lives fighting this war. I have buddies who are out there risking their lives so we can have the freedom to post here on PhoneArena.com

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:29 1

13. Aeires (unregistered)


I'd bet that if the technology would have existed during the Vietnam war, they'd have pursued something like this as well.

When I read the headline, I was in agreement with Apple but upon reading the entire story, not so sure. Public awareness for things like this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The US government has escalated the drone attacks to incredible levels, partly because people aren't aware of them. Any time war can get escalated to a higher level without the public's knowledge of the costs involved, it's never a good thing. There needs to be some accountability and this app provides that to some degree. I spent 8 years in the Marines and have seen it from both sides, today's method of fighting war is getting too robotic to just let happen without the accountability. Looking at the image in the vid above brings an awareness most would never have, each of those pins are a life, or group of lives that were taken, for whatever reason.

Google Maps are usually from outdated images so not sure I'm understanding your point about giving away troop locations.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:44

18. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3755; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Ok being a Marine & fighting a deadly war, you would be fine with any military info may get compromised from an app like this? I mean I can understand this info being released after the war is over but to release that type of info DURING actual combat scenarios is very alarming & detrimental to people who are fighting this war.

We can read about war & the drones. We don't need real time information. This is war not the stock market nor professional sports.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 14:03 3

24. Aeires (unregistered)


Drone attacks are usually in places where troops are not located, so it's not like they are giving up any critical information. Add to it, this is public knowledge that can be obtained from other sources, the app just ties it together.

I'm not sure you fully understand how the drone war is being fought. Drone attacks are predetermined and carried out by completely different units. The 'pilots' that fly the drones aren't even in the theater of war, they are sitting in flight simulators in the States, thousands of miles away. And if that isn't bad enough, they are experimenting with drones that are unmanned, able to carry out complex missions from preloaded software instructions.

The average American has no clue but this app might wake some people up to how much death is being dealt on a daily basis.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 14:22

30. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3755; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


I understand clearly. There are troops out there who are fighting. They may go in after an attack to see if a target has been neutralized. If we know so does the enemy & they can set up an ambush or anything.

We really don't need to know where the Drone kills happened. We can read all about it in our smartphones. Maps are not needed.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:36 2

15. DigitalBoy05 (Posts: 200; Member since: 04 Jun 2011)


i see your point but if these attacks are listed as public record then the military is giving the green light. This app is merely a consolidated list and map of that info with the added benefit of push notifications.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:54

23. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3755; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Well there is nothing I can do. It only says the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, I don't know about the US though? I would really like to know an official US stance on the subject.

posted on 01 Sep 2012, 16:42

40. dmckay12 (Posts: 243; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)


The anti-war movement caused many unnecessary deaths. It made war a political issue. The movement caused political leaders to take control of the war. Without the politicians meddling in the war, it would have been over in months. The politicians set rules like denying the troops the ability to invade enemy territory and to shoot before being shot at. This is not even the same issue. This app does not compromise the troops' ability to fight and live. It repeats information that can be found elsewhere and these operations commonly occur in areas we don't have fighting troops. Most strikes occur in Pakistan, Yemen, and other places we haven't invaded yet.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:45 1

19. xtremesv (Posts: 188; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


Why not? Public scrutiny is the best way to avoid military force abuse. The world has the right to know who and how many people US armed forces kill.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:46 5

20. som (Posts: 768; Member since: 10 Nov 2009)


New target is Apple Headquarter, no warning there.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 14:22

31. drahmad (Posts: 478; Member since: 20 Aug 2011)


hahahah funny

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 14:21 1

29. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)


its national security risk. if terrorists know where the drone attacks are happening, then they would go to places where the drones aren't hitting, and it would be harder to kill them

I ain't the worlds greatest apple fan, but I gotta agree with them once in a while and that is right now

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 15:39 1

34. Stuntman (Posts: 707; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


Apple should ban news apps since a lot of what is on the main stream news is people dying of this and that.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:12 2

2. ajac09 (Posts: 1341; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


if you were FORCED to download it I understand but your not so why bother blocking it. Apple can sue anyone becaue they cant compete but go all prissy when its about drone attacks.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:15 1

3. skymitch89 (Posts: 1017; Member since: 05 Nov 2010)


I don't believe that drone attacks should be public knowledge and I cannot believe that this guy has actually come up with this app. I hope that the guy doesn't try to port it over to Android and get it into the Play Store.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 14:20

28. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)


this confidential information. it shouldn't be allowed

I know a lot of people's personal information is on the internet, but what if theres one app that consolidates all your information including bank account, phone number, credit card into one window. you wouldn't like that

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:15 2

4. sum182 (Posts: 229; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


So where do you draw the line, if you can read all about it and get all the same information from one of the thousands of news apps, why can't this app exist? Sounds like they don't want all the information in one place, easily accessible (key point) by everyone... cause then people start talking and well....you know....this is america.....

My 2 cents

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:33 1

7. idget500 (Posts: 14; Member since: 21 Jun 2012)


I thought people wanted more free and open information. I for one think this app is awsome. To see how often the US takes out a bad guy would be cool to see. I hope this comes to the Google Play Store.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 12:35

8. shadowcell (Posts: 300; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Okay I understand the information is public but who in the right mind would need a push notification about drone attacks? Maybe if I'm building a graph on kill/strike ratios?

Excuse me while i load my dancing cat app...LOOK AT HIM GO!

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:16 1

10. Savage (unregistered)


Side with Apple this time. Although, it is public knowledge what's the public gonna do with this info? Rate / comment? Compromising military protocols for Right to Knowledge? Somwhere a line has to be drawn.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:40

17. downphoenix (Posts: 2267; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


I think Apple is treading onto free speech a little much. It is there right to have their walled garden, but not to restrict information for specific apps when general apps like facebook, twitter, and safari already allowed unfettered access to it.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 14:08 1

25. phatride4ever (Posts: 32; Member since: 01 Mar 2012)


There is no free speech in the Apple Market. It's ran by a private industry.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 19:04

37. lyndon420 (Posts: 1687; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


Yeah...because like Jobs said, "There will be no porn on an apple product". Because that's what apple users want right?

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 13:49

22. som (Posts: 768; Member since: 10 Nov 2009)


This App is for terrorist groups.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 14:15

26. networkdood (Posts: 6247; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


lol, I had thought that drone was referring to an iphone user...

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 15:25

32. Jay_F (Posts: 236; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)


Lol, I love how it was quoted as "not useful." So's a good 80% of all apps in both the App Store and the Play Store. How many fart apps can you have?

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 16:15

35. rusticguy (Posts: 2819; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Apple Censorship. They decide what's good for their users.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 16:22 1

36. lyndon420 (Posts: 1687; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


Apple doesn't want to become a target for terrorists...after all didn't Jobs have muslim roots somehow?

Hope it does come to the Play Store and for free...I'd like to check it out. Remember...we live in a free country not Saudi Arabia, so why not indulge in the freedoms we fought for?

Besides...no one is forcing anyone to download the app.

posted on 30 Aug 2012, 21:57

38. themayorman (Posts: 3; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)


It's public information, easily obtained on the internet, and not graphic. It should be allowed. People who have an issue with it simply don't have to install and use the app. I wonder how many applications Apple rejects and why....... this rejection is clearly political in nature. Android will allow this app in the google play store.

posted on 01 Sep 2012, 04:19

39. Mohamed_Abdulkareem (Posts: 42; Member since: 15 May 2012)


Well. Apple instead of rejecting guy's app should ask US air force to stop shooting civilians with their drones in the world...

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