Drone App Rejected From Apple App Store For Being Objectionable And Crude
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
In their best attempts to keep the App Store a simple place free from malware and offensive and pornographic material, Apple sometimes makes decisions which tend to complicate the entire matter.
For instance, there once lived an app in the App Store which served a simple purpose: Send an alert whenever a US drone strike kills someone. Apple deems this app to be “objectionable and crude.” and has therefore banished it from App Store Land.
In fact, Apple has done this 3 times in just one month, according to a Wired interview with developer Josh Begley. With the first rejection, Apple said the app, Drones +, was “not useful,” one of the many reasons Apple uses to pull an app from their digital store.
Begley retooled the app, adding new features such as push notifications for whenever a drone strike had been reported, and sent in his revisions to Apple.
Apple sent it back, with an objection against the use of Google’s logo on the included map.
Now, in the apps third rejection, Apple is calling the mobile software “objectionable and crude.”
According to Begley, Drones + did not contain any graphic or disturbing images, no photos of corpses as a bi-product of the drone strikes. Using publicly available information from the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Drones + simply dropped a pin on a map wherever these drone strikes had occurred.
“I wanted to have a more granular sense of what drone strikes really did look like out of genuine curiosity,” said Mr. Begley in another interview with the New York Times.
“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.”
When iOS apps are submitted to Apple for the approval process, they are judged on content, design and technical criteria. Apple famously doesn’t comment on this review process, but has often be found to be slightly overcautious when it comes to rejecting apps from their store.
Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, confirmed with the New York Times that Begley’s app had been rejected for violating Apple’s policy concerning objectionable content. He didn’t, however give any further comments about the decision, such as which content was deemed objectionable. Causing further frustration for Mr. Begley, other apps on the App Store present the same kind of information to the user as his Drones + app. The mobile app for the British news source The Guardian, for example, offers what the New York Times calls “nearly identical” information.
“I’m kind of back at the drawing board about what exactly I’m supposed to do,” said Begley, speaking to Wired.
Apple has before decided to reject apps with a political bent. In 2010, an app was rejected or featuring a political cartoon. Apple has said they have a policy against ridiculing any public features and, as such, had this app removed. Shortly thereafter, Apple reversed their decision and accepted the app back in the store. Their reason for doing so? Mark Fiore, the cartoonist whose work was featured in the app, had just won a Pulitzer prize.
In response to this flip flop, Fiore told the Times, “Looks like some guy named Steve Jobs was able to nudge my app past the gatekeepers.”
As a large news source, Apple may be turning a bit of a blind eye to the Guardian App. On the other hand, with such a small team of reviewers, they could have simply glanced over it without realizing that data was in the app.
For now, Mr. Begley will return to the drawing board to discover another way to shed some light on America’s quiet drone strikes.