Feeds

Apple drones reject American drone-strike tracker app

Is it useful to know when robot flyers kill someone?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Apple has repeatedly rejected an app which pushes notifications onto iPhones every time an American robot flyer makes a strike.

The information is public, slurped from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the app takes its lead from The Guardian, which bundled the same functionality into a story on the subject of death by remote control, but an app which just pops up a notification with every strike is apparently offensive, or useless, or just not entertaining enough for the Apple censors.

All three reasons have been supplied to New York developer Josh Begley, who told Wired that Apple first complained his app, Drones+, wasn't useful, but most recently pointed of the objectionable content as the reason for its rejection.

The app doesn’t show dismembered corpses, only text details of the strike and a map showing where the hit occurred, and while some might find America's use of robot killers objectionable one could surely apply the same restriction to any of the news aggregators out there, or the news services themselves who routinely report the most objectionable of events from around the world.

Begley admits he's trying to make a point – by pushing notifications out he wants to remind users what's happening on the other side of the world – though one imagines Drones+ would only appeal to limp-wristed liberals who feel guilty enough already or red-blooded Republicans who'll be raising a toast every time their alert goes off.

It's not the first time Apple's censorship has gone political. The company blocked a political cartoon app at one point, and pulled apps showing drink-drive checkpoints not to mention comedy seal clubbing. An application which offered to help gay people find members of the opposite sex arousing disappeared after a flurry of complaints, and the Chinese iTunes store not-so-mysteriously lacks apps relaying the teachings of the Dalai Lama.

The app which went Quack was rejected around the world for being pointless, which isn't political but seems worthy of mention anyway.

Apple makes its own rules, and reserves the right to make arbitrary decisions without explanation or justification, and Apple customers don't seem to mind. The majority of decisions are probably quite sensible, and Apple has been known to change its mind in the face of public opinion, but each time serves as a reminder of Cupertino's overreaching control. ®

Bootnote

From the Reg killer robot desk:

The Western media are strangely obsessed with "drone" strikes for some reason (nobody in the military and intelligence communities uses the term "drone"). The Graun and their pals at the BOIJ reckon there may have been as many as 400 of these since the first armed CIA Predators went to work back in 2002, and consider this to be a big deal.

The US Air Force makes rather more comprehensive data on airstrikes during the Wars on Stuff openly available, and we can see (pdf) from them that many, many times more airstrikes (around 5,000 every year) have been carried out in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (ISAF in Afghanistan). Heavy bombing formerly took place in Iraq too.

Then we should reflect that many non-"drone" strikes use much heavier ordnance than the Hellfire missiles typically launched by Predator and Reaper UASs, and as a result more people are killed. (Example: In just one incident a US B-1 strategic bomber hammered the Afghan village of Farah with no less than 8,500lbs - more than 4 tons - of bombs, equivalent to approximately 85 Hellfire strikes that would have required a fleet of Reapers or Predators to deliver. F-18 fighters had previously dropped more bombs and strafed the area with cannon fire. This will all have been recorded as a single airstrike. As many as 140 civilians were killed in just that one incident, as compared to a possible 852 in the entire decade-long "drone" campaign.)

What do we learn here? That manned aircraft operated by the Western armed forces have killed and are killing anywhere from 10 to 100 times as many people as the "drone" fleet of the CIA. App developers and journos take note.

Whoops, sorry:

DATA JOURNALISM

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.