App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes is Rejected by Apple

App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes is Rejected by Apple

It’s a simple app, designed to send users a pop-up notice whenever a U.S. controlled drone makes a strike against a target in a foreign country. For some reason though, Apple keeps rejecting the app when its submitted to the App Store. The latest rejection reason: the content is “objectionable and crude.”


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.

Begley says he’s confused. Drones+ doesn’t show any grisly images of corpses that might be left in the aftermath of a strike, it just tells the user where the strike occurred. It uses a publicly available database of strikes compiled by the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which compiles media accounts of the strikes.

iOS developers have a strict set of guidelines that must be followed if the developer expects his app to be accepted in the App Store. Since Apple doesn’t comment on the review process, it can be difficult for a developer to figure out exactly why their app was rejected. Apple’s team of reviewers do necessarily err on the side of caution when apps are considered potentially questionable.

The original objection Apple had to Drone+ regarded functionality, not the content. Now he says he wonders if it’s even worth redesigning and resubmitting again.

“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 says.

Begley’s app is threadbare by design. When a drone strike occurs, the app catalogs it, and shows a map of the area where it occurred, marked by a pushpin. The user can then click-through to a media report of the strike.

“I’m kind of back at the drawing board about what exactly I’m supposed to do,” Begley said. His basic idea was to see if he could get iOS users more interested in the “U.S.’ secretive, robotic wars,” with info popping up on their device much like a Facebook or Twitter notification. Now he’s thinking he might try to make the same point via the Android Market.