New app Metadata+ tells you whenever a drone strike kills somebody overseas.
Working by pulling data from the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the app plots the location of each strike on a map, and then sends a push notification when an attack takes place.
If that doesn’t strike you as something the often-conservative Apple would want available in its App Store, you’re not wrong.
The app’s official release comes on the back of five separate rejections by the company, and a renaming from Drone+, Drones+, and Dronestream to the more innocuous-sounding Metadata+. The official App Store description reveals only that the app deals in, “Real-time updates on national security.”
When developer Josh Begley originally submitted the app back in 2012 he was told by Apple that his app was “not useful or entertaining enough,” alongside an issue related to his chosen logo.
After more back-and-forth the company finally admitted that, “We found that your app contains content that many audiences would find objectionable.”
So how did Begley eventually get the app accepted? According to a new article from FastCo Exist:
“[Begley] says he was told by an Apple employee that even though his app only took data from reports in the news, drones fell into a category of ‘concepts’ that the company decides not to advance. If he broadened his scope, Begley would be good to go.
When Begley submitted a version of his app without any data (called ‘Ephemeral’), the software was accepted. He followed up with a similar version called Metadata+, then filled in all the historical drone strike information once the app went live. It’s a drone strike app, whether Apple likes it or not.”
In other words, the lesson to be learned by developers might be that if Apple refuses to accept your app, a workaround might be to submit the app without content and then add it in later.
We’ll see how long Metadata+ stays up.