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Apple Rejects Drone Strike App 234

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-have-a-different-think-comin' dept.
eldavojohn writes "Developer Josh Begley, a student at Clay Shirky's NYU Media Lab, created an application called Drones+ that allows users to track U.S. drone strikes on a map of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Far from innovative, the app in question merely relays and positions strikes as available from the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism. First Apple rejected the application claiming it was 'not useful or entertaining enough,' then it was rejected for hiding a corporate logo. And the latest reason for objection is that Begley's content is 'objectionable and crude' and 'that many audiences would find [it] objectionable." Begley's at a loss for how to change information on a map. He's not showing images of the drone strikes nor even graphically describing the strikes. From the end of the article, '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.'"
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Apple Rejects Drone Strike App

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:43PM (#41183887)

    with a ten foot pole.

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:49PM (#41183965)

      apple just doesn't want to touch that with a ten foot pole.

      Yep. That's one of the downsides of the walled garden. I'm still annoyed I can't get MAME on iOS.

      • by tchuladdiass (174342) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:31PM (#41184515) Homepage

        When you write for iOS, you aren't working for yourself. You are instead working as a contractor for Apple. You are given the job of coming up with product ideas, implementing and marketing them. And you get paid a hefty commission on the sales. But as an Apple contractor, they are free to reject any idea or implementation thereof -- it has to be in line with what they would want to develop themselves.

        If you think of it this way, it makes things so much easier.

    • by msauve (701917) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:40PM (#41184615)
      What's with all these oldthinkers? They just don't have a bellyfeel for the doubleplusfreedom Apple provides its users. They need more goodthink.
      • by fm6 (162816)

        Jeez, dude, if you can't learn to speak Newspeak properly, I'm going to report you to the Thought Police. You need to get rid of grammatical ornamentation and expressive subtlety. Try

        Why oldthink? Apple give doubleplusfreedom. Be goodthinkful.

      • by dido (9125)

        Apple has just become Big Brother in their 1984 Superbowl Ad [youtube.com]

        . The irony.

        • by DesScorp (410532)

          Apple has just become Big Brother in their 1984 Superbowl Ad [youtube.com]

          . The irony.

          Well, in a way, yes. Because Steve Jobs, after years of experience with the first Mac and at NeXT, decided that maybe Big Brother existed for a good reason, was actually necessary, and that he was doing the world a favor by being a better Big Brother, and that the world would love him for it. And you know what? After billions in sales and millions of devices sold to adoring fans... the vast majority of which had never purchased an Apple product in the pre-comeback era... the world proved him right.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Big Brother in the novel was quite successful as well, but that didn't make it a force of good.

    • If you missed Orwell's novel (perhaps in Amazon's remote erasing)... there is a war going on, somewhere in the World and we are winning, Big Brother is something good, and we are eing watched on what we do and what we consume by our gadgets' app stores - and everything is fine as far as we are not informed enough

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:46PM (#41183921)

    Apple is, and should be, free to prohibit any content they want on their store. It's their store, we shouldn't force them to add stuff they don't want.

    The problem here is the locked down devices. You have no other way of installing things on an iPhone. Which is precisely why I don't own one.

    • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:48PM (#41183953)

      Apple is, and should be, free to prohibit any content they want on their store. It's their store, we shouldn't force them to add stuff they don't want.

      The problem here is the locked down devices. You have no other way of installing things on an iPhone. Which is precisely why I don't own one.

      Solution: Use Safari Mobile.

      • by devilspgd (652955) <slashdot@devilspgd.net> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:29PM (#41184475) Homepage

        I've yet to see anything resembling a usable map interface implemented in Safari Mobile. Even Google's is clunky and painful to use vs a native app, so suggesting "Just use Safari" doesn't really scale until it can create as functional an interface as what native apps can do.

        • by Smurf (7981)

          Until I read your comment I had never tried to go to maps.google.com in Safari on my iPhone. It's quite pointless since there is a native app for that, but still I find funny that I never even tried to do it.

          So, I just went there, did a couple of searches including driving directions. Let me tell you that I am very impressed with how well it works, especially since it is very unlikely that Google has invested any significant amount of resources in it (again, because it's pointless since all devices from al

      • by tepples (727027)
        How should a web application running in Safari access the camera and microphone of an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We as smartphone users have every right to pressure Apple to accept this application or any other application. We can decide where to spend our money based on how Apple treats us in meeting our demands.

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        No you can't. :)

        • by Guy Harris (3803)

          No you can't. :)

          If you're referring to "We can decide where to spend our money based on how Apple treats us in meeting our demands.", are you claiming that smartphone users are forced to purchase iPhones?

          • by Dishevel (1105119) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:14PM (#41184943)

            I thought that I was pointing out that there are 2 types of iPhone users.
            Those too stupid to know that they have no choice and those that made the choice to not have one.

            • by Guy Harris (3803)

              I thought that I was pointing out that there are 2 types of iPhone users. Those too stupid to know that they have no choice and those that made the choice to not have one.

              ("One" in "have one" presumably referring to "the choice as to which apps you want to have, including apps not approved by Apple". There is, however, a third type of iPhone users, namely those who made the choice to jailbreak their phones and run non-App Store apps on them.)

              Yes, but there are also people who have made the choice not to be iPhone users, which is the choice to which the AC to whom you replied was presumably referring.

      • And this affects me none as an iOS user - and I'm sure most iOS users have given it even less thought.

        Apple wishes to keep this software out of their market as a CYA strategy. This is fine with me. They also keep emulators out for the same reason, which I'm less thrilled about but I can understand their position.

        If I felt some other platform offered me superior choices, I would use that platform. As it is, I prefer iOS, because I value convenience over software freedom. My communications remain unimpaired b

        • by cffrost (885375)

          This is fine with me. They also keep emulators out for the same reason, which I'm less thrilled about but I can understand their position.

          Which is: Apple right behind you, and you bent over and paying for the privilege. I understand Apple's position too, but I can't understand your position.

        • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:54PM (#41184735) Homepage Journal

          Apple denying what you have an option to use affects you. Most iOS users don't know about it, so yeah they probably didn't think about it.

          Denying this app IS impairing communication. Sure, it's not a type of communication you would use, but next time it might be.
          Funny thin is, My Galaxy does many thing more convenient the the iPhone does.

          No that you should change, but don't kid yourself either.

    • by devilspgd (652955) <slashdot@devilspgd.net> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:26PM (#41184451) Homepage

      Apple is, and should be, free to prohibit any content they want on their store.

      Absolutely!

      It's their store, we shouldn't force them to add stuff they don't want.

      Nobody is forcing anything. Yet. For the same reason that Apple has a right to carry (or not carry) whatever they like, I have the right to complain about it.

      The problem here is the locked down devices. You have no other way of installing things on an iPhone.

      And this is the reason I'm actually alright with forcing Apple to carry certain things that they might not otherwise want to carry. If the App Store rules weren't such a moving target, I'd have less of a complaint, but the fact that limitations on what software I can install on my device are added after the initial purchase of my device is a bit of a problem, at least to me.

    • Apple is, and should be, free to prohibit any content they want on their store. It's their store, we shouldn't force them to add stuff they don't want.

      There is a large difference between "I have a legal right to do it" and "It is good to do it".

      I have a legal right to say black people are inferior. Does not mean it is a good idea.

      Apple has the legal right to censor political/philosophical/religious ideas (see [1]), but at the same time we have a right and maybe even a duty to boycott it.

      1. http://www.manhat [manhattandeclaration.org]

    • Except the terms state you can't sell apps that are basically just a web page. As far as I know he did not even use map Apis or anything. It's website so quite rightly it's not and app and can be accessed via the browser.
    • The problem here is the locked down devices

      The problem is buyers remorse. Has anyone ever been misled into thinking that the AppStore was a free-for-all, un-curated software repository? If so, you probably should have returned the device once you discovered your error.

      Its like people are buying a SmartCar, and then getting upset that it doesnt have a truck bed in the back. Seems like the solution is to buy the product that has the features you want, rather than purchasing the wrong thing and then getting mad at everyone because its the wrong thin

  • by tidepool (137349) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:47PM (#41183939)

    If the 'app' is rated as objectionable and 'crude'', what does that make the actions themselves? Are we all so content as a society to hide our heads under our pillows, all the while chanting 'freedom in the USA!'?

    I think the guy had a valid point -- If the app exists or doesn't exist, it doesn't change the data points that are being created (Monthly/Weekly/Daily?) nor the map itself.

    Correlation is not causation - Apple should know this.

    • by mark_elf (2009518) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:59PM (#41184109)

      Head under pillows, going to the Apple store to buy more iPads, not questioning the consensus, super-consuming reality we live in. I turned on my facebook today and saw all my friends got new iphones so I went down and got one too! Drone strikes keep us safe, don't ask too many questions, don't rock the boat. Obama or Romney, Apple or Microsoft, Facebook or Google+. What do drone strikes have to do with it?

      --------------

      Posted from a 17" macbook pro.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Plus by making more and more of the public realm private they can use the private property excuse to suppress dissent. "It is Apple's product, too bad!"

      • by msauve (701917)
        "What do drone strikes have to do with it?"

        Nothing. They're neither Bread, nor Circuses, so they don't qualify.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:00PM (#41184123)
      Apple's next gadget: iPillow. It censors your news so you don't have to feel like you should do something.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      Whatever their official reasons, I doubt that this is about security or good taste or anything like that. Apple simply doesn't like controversy. That's why they wouldn't allow a Bush Leaves count down clock.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:47PM (#41183949)

    A Drone Strike app which can't initiate strikes is like an email client which can't send email.

    Apple deserves our thanks for keeping unfinished apps out of the App Store.

    • Exactly (Score:5, Funny)

      by Tim Ward (514198) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:15PM (#41184321) Homepage

      The problem is of course the current namby-pamby nanny-state commie liberal president you've got, who insists on signing every drone death warrant personally.

      A real red blooded conservative president, who upheld the US citizen's right to bear arms properly, would allow users of the app to kill foreigners with drones as easily as they are currently allowed to kill fellow Americans with handguns.

      • by sartin (238198)

        would allow users of the app to kill foreigners with drones as easily as they are currently allowed to kill fellow Americans with handguns.

        I assume that would be through an in-app purchase? What an awesome way to work on deficit reduction.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        Hey, Obama has launched twice as many drone strikes in 3 years as Bush launched in 8! That means he's killed twice as many terrorists.

        On the downside, he's killed twice as many innocent bystanders.

        • by anagama (611277)

          Obama has launched twice as many drone strikes in 3 years as Bush launched in 8!

          Bzzzt.

          Bush: 52
          Obama: 291

          That's 5.6x Bush's score in half the time.

          http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/ [thebureaui...igates.com]

          That means he's killed twice as many terrorists.

          That's pretty easy when you define "militant" to mean any male of military age irrespective of the beliefs, actions, or record. Essentially, all you have to be to be counted as a terrorist is be a non-infant male, but it sure sounds better in the headli

          • by fm6 (162816)

            You spoiled your routine by ending it with a Sarah Palin imitation, reminding us that the alternative to Obama was to put Mrs. Moose Hunter one aged heartbeat away from the Presidency. Whatever Obama's sins, I'm sure she could top them without even trying.

    • by bitt3n (941736)

      A Drone Strike app which can't initiate strikes is like an email client which can't send email.

      Apple deserves our thanks for keeping unfinished apps out of the App Store.

      you say that now, but what happens when grandma hits Reply To All and levels the Maghreb?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I want an app that pops up a map pointer to each court that Apple wages battle in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:55PM (#41184043)

    Put it on a website!

    Why does everything have to be an app these days? If you just want to display information, isn't that exactly what the Web was designed for? Why turn it into something that only a minority of your potential audience can make use of?

    We already went through this whole proprietary wrappers nonsense back in the early days of the Internet. I thought we learned our lesson. Apparently not.

    End rant.

    Oh yeah, and get off my lawn!

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      Does iOS or Android even have the native ability to add website shortcuts to the home screens or application menu? If they did, I think people might be more willing to use them.
      • by Megahard (1053072)
        Android certainly does, it's one of the more useful features IMHO.
      • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:19PM (#41184365)

        Does iOS or Android even have the native ability to add website shortcuts to the home screens or application menu?

        I can't speak for Android, but in Safari you tap the icon next to bookmarks then "Add to Home Screen".

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Does iOS or Android even have the native ability to add website shortcuts to the home screens or application menu? If they did, I think people might be more willing to use them.

        Not sure about Android, but iOS definitely has web apps [lifehacker.com] - it was there even before the App Store was around. It's effectively a bookmark, but I believe it runs a separate instance so do it right and it can feel all "native".

        In fact, you can pin any web site to the home screen.

        Apple has always suggested that apps that don't want to be

      • by devilspgd (652955)

        iOS does, but it's severely hobbled. When you attempt to return to the app (via fast-app switching or the home-screen-icon) you get to see where you left off for a couple seconds, then it returns to the main URL for that web-app.

        This makes it a huge pain to actually use this functionality since if you save, say, /., then instead of being able to finish the comment you were writing, you'll end up at the /. homepage again.

        • by Wordplay (54438)

          It's because it's the shortcut equivalent of launching Safari with a link. You see the old page for a moment because the UIWebView (embedded Safari) wrapper displaying the page is still in memory, then it navigates to the new.

          Does Android do this better?

          • by devilspgd (652955)

            Understood. And with regards to relaunching the icon, this makes sense. However, when you fast-app-switch back to the web-app, it would be really nice if it left you where you left off instead of restarting like virtually all modern iOS apps do.

    • by guspasho (941623)

      Apps are designed to the OS, websites are designed to standards. Apps are going to be inherently superior. If anything, the app is more direct and it's Safari and the web interface that is the obnoxious wrapper.

      Also, you get App Store visibility.

    • by tidepool (137349)

      There is a large difference that I am seeing:

      A website is a GET request.
      An App allows for PUSH'ed content.

      GETTING the information at your whim, if you even remember that you HAVE the website 'bookmarked'/'shortcutted' is a COMPLETELY different mental stimulus than having the updated drone attack (who are we kidding,(?) I am using attack because it absolutely fits the bill) pop-up on screen when you're looking at weather.com or on the phone with your Mom.

      99% of the impact is LOST if it were to be all handled

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Why does everything have to be an app these days?

      Because that's what all the kids are doing, and the entire purpose of the app is to get kids interested in what their country is actually doing. If you want to get peoples attention, go to where their attention already is. The fact that anyone who wants this information can get it easily doesn't help distribute this information to those who don't know that they are interested yet.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Your rant doesn't go far enough. Browsers, especially mobile browsers, have gone way beyond just displaying information. I think that maybe 90% of all the apps I've seen could be implemented on the web. There are security and privacy issues of course, but that's true for apps as well.

      I think people write apps because that's what they know how to do. Writing an application that exists mainly in the cloud is a new paradigm, and it's going to be a while before developers adapt to it.

  • obviously (Score:5, Funny)

    by LodCrappo (705968) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:58PM (#41184103) Homepage

    The big new "magical" feature in the upcoming iPhone 5 is the ability to track drone strikes.

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:01PM (#41184133)

    In other words, this guy has discovered first hand what happens when content gets censored on grounds of being "objectionable."

    It doesn't matter what the subject is, SOMEONE will find it objectionable.

    Evolution? Creationists.
    Fluffy Kittens? PETA.
    Babies? Malthists
    Picking flowers? Botanical conservationists.
    Vaccination? Antivac-ers.
    Birth control? Catholics
    Lipstick? Orthodox muslims
    Etc.

    If the metric for rejection was "objectionable", then the only way for apple's store to remain open is if it has nothing to sell.

    Rather, Apple has taken the shister path, and has conflated "unpopular" with "objectionable", since the real application of that word would exclude all products.

    As such, anything sociologically or politically unpopular, regardless of factual content, is banned.

    • by cvtan (752695)
      I find the App Store objectionable.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      Actually, Orthodox Muslim women do buy and use makeup. They just don't show their made up faces in public.

      You're not wrong, though. A sufficiently conservative Muslim is offended by a anything resembling a "graven image", even a drawing of an animal.

    • What the heck is a malthist?

  • The description of the article is misleading..
    "available from the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism."

    -makes it sound like it is a government-sponsored website when it is fact a privately owned and operated site.

    from the site:
    "About the Bureau
    The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is a not-for-profit organisation based at City University, London. The Bureau bolsters original journalism by producing high-quality investigations for press and broadcast media with the aim of educating the public and the

    • by SirSlud (67381)

      What on earth would a government be doing running a bureau of investigative journalism? Investigative journalism exists *precisely to* enhance the transparency of governments, companies, and individuals who don't want to be.

    • by Arker (91948)
      No one but you read that and thought it had anything to do with a government agency. Investigative journalism, look it up.
  • by LodCrappo (705968) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:02PM (#41184145) Homepage

    "Begley's thinking about whether he'd have a better shot making the same point in the Android Market.'"

    He'd be allowed to try. Considering there are considerably more Android users than iThing users, he'd also have a bigger impact if his app was popular.

    Freedom: it's not really so bad, despite what Apple would have you believe.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Actually I'd say Apple's censorship is causing the app to have a bigger impact than it ever would have otherwise, even if people never see it. (The app itself would be relatively static and not that exciting to use.)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rk (6314)

        Interesting idea... take it a step further: could it be that Apple is secretly wearing a white hat here, "banning" the app for a few specious reasons in an attempt to publicize it through outrage, only to recant a few days later? How many of us would never have heard of this app if it were not for this? A way of advertising it without advertising it, perhaps?

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:02PM (#41184153) Journal

    to question or challenge US authority. He should be grateful his house isn't on the map.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:13PM (#41184287)

    Is anyone keeping track of the apps that Apple has forbidden from the appstore?

    I used to be reduced to pointing at the bouncy-boobs type apps (shake the phone and watch a girl's tits bounce) until recently when a friend had to deal with an abusive spouse.

    I went looking for an iphone app that records video and audio with the screen turned off - she wanted evidence of him being violent - but as far as I could tell apple doesn't permit such apps. There are some available in the jail-break version of the appstore, but jail-breaking is not an option for the typical battered woman.

    Then we went looking for an app that would automatically forward all received text messages to an email address, because the guy likes to send threatening texts and it would be helpful to automatically archive them. Again no go - apparently you have to cut-n-paste them one at a time or rely on a significant level of technical expertise to manually extract them from the icloud(?) backups of the phone.

    • Phoneview (mac) from ecamm software will archive voicemails and texts, or she can drop her iphone off at the police station.. they can get it off. I believe there's one called iphone explorer for the PC Good luck.
  • I think we can safely conclude that Apple considers journalism that falls outside of the narrow range of MSNBCNNBBCBSFOX to be objectionable.
  • bogus reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:23PM (#41184411) Homepage Journal

    And the latest reason for objection is that Begley's content is 'objectionable and crude' and 'that many audiences would find [it] objectionable.

    There are "many audiences" that would find the content on the Adult Swim app "objectionable and crude", too, but Apple doesn't have a problem with that.

    Here's the reason walled gardens are bad for you: Because you don't get to choose how to use your own device.

    • by cffrost (885375)

      There are "many audiences" that would find the content on the Adult Swim app "objectionable and crude", too, but Apple doesn't have a problem with that.

      Well that's made by a corporate partner, so that's different, you see? Same deal with Playboy.

      Here's the reason walled gardens are bad for you: Because you don't get to choose how to use your own device.

      Terror talk, eh? Clearly you need to think different harder.

  • Begley's content is 'objectionable and crude' ... 'many audiences would find [it] objectionable."

    It's, uh, "interesting" to read of this description being used while Apple's App Store sells the iFart [apple.com] app.

    Or maybe they really haven't received any complaints about iFart. Ya think?

    (And is it available for Android yet?)

  • by Paul Slocum (598127) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:52PM (#41184723) Homepage Journal

    I'm an iOS developer, and keep in mind when you read this that there is an entire industry of developers whose business plan is to submit pointless novelty/spam games and apps to the App Store as fast as humanly possible. Because of this, Apple has made it so you can't submit any app that simply aggregates web content or has limited functionality, and I think it's good for the App Store to impose this. On the iOS forums I follow, people get rejected constantly for simple aggregator apps like this.

    So being a bit of a collector of these spam apps and having seen a lot of them, I don't really blame Apple for not being able to tell the different between those spam apps and this -- which maybe deserves a bit more consideration than the average spam aggregator app. I blame the app spammers who have wrecked the system, not Apple.

    And anyway, geez, just make the project a webpage and twitter account and it has the same effect and you aren't limited to iOS. Oh, but then it's not as "cool" because it's not an iPhone app!

  • > Josh Begley's at a loss

    Come now, Josh. Apple is all-wise and even if their excuses don't make sense - and deep down they don't agree with your political beliefs - they only have your best interests at heart. Yield to their decision. You should be happy they even allow you to play with everyone else in their walled garden. If you don't like it, you can leave. Sense the moment, because this is as close to unbridled, unaccountable power as you will ever come.

    Seriously: It sucks. Talk to the EFF and
  • You will not be able to stay home, brother.
    You will not be able to slide to unlock, tap open and app out.
    You will not be able to lose yourself in birds and pigs,
    iTune in and swill beer during the keynote,
    Because the revolution will not be an app [youtube.com].

    The revolution will be... um, Live... oh hell, that's a Microsoft product.

  • Was it Apple's idea to reject it or were they told to by someone in the US government with connections to the military?

  • what a great App, it's up there with an app that shows traffic crash sites, aircraft disasters and similar. And what would be really useful is a button to click on that shows the death and injury stats! /sarcasm

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