Apple opens doors for an app that tracks covert U.S. drone strikes

After repeated rejections coupled with discouraging remarks from tech giant Apple, Metadata+, an app that provides drone strike alerts has finally made its way on the market, becoming the newest entrant in the Apple store.

Developed by Josh Begley, an NYU graduate student, the app notifies user of every reported drone strike by the U.S. anywhere in the world. Users receive a push message carrying a brief description of where the unmanned aerial machine struck suspected terrorists and what deaths occurred.

Metadata+ relies on major media organizations such as the Associated Press, CNN, the New York Times, and Reuters for its data, and makes use of a publicly-available database of strikes compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Metadata+ wants to raise awareness of foreign policy by reporting every drone strike.

A run up to the approval

Apple already has a couple of games based on drones namely, UAV Fighter and Drone Fighter 3D, but when it came to including an app that sends out real-time alerts, it vacillated, deeming the app objectionable and crude.

The app, which was originally titled Drones+ and then Dronestream, was rejected for lacking entertainment value and having narrow audience appeal.

Five rejections later, the reviewers were ready to take another look on the condition that the data developer broaden the topic. The app was now named Metadata and all the content was removed, leaving an empty map. This version of the app fetched Apple’s approval in only six days.

Josh says that the app is meant to track and map covert wars and that Apple, Android or the approval process does not matter. The developer hopes the app will become a “living archive of hauntings.”

Some similar efforts

There have been other efforts to raise awareness of the ghastly side of drones and the fear of constantly living under the threat of a drone attack.

While Apple turned him down, Josh Begley took to twitter to tweet about every single drone attack that occurred starting from the first one which took place on November 3, 2002, feeding people violent news amid their friendly talks. His account has 27,000 followers.

James Bridle, a London-based artist posts satellite images of every drone attack location on Instagram. He also tries to raise awareness through his paintings of drone shadows in important western cities.

The app and its probable impact

Since the first attack, drone strikes have been reported frequently. A leaked document published recently by the Bureau of Investigation Journalism contains details of over 300 drone attacks in Pakistan. The report records 2,217 deaths in total.

The app is seen as a medium that will help strengthen citizens’ relations with their country’s foreign policy. It has received wide attention from various parts of society, including the political arena.

When the app was rejected in 2012, a petition was launched in its favor, stating that mass public ignorance allows drone wars to continue. “Drone wars continue because the U.S. public is unaware what is being done in our name with our money. We are interested in knowing where our government is using drones and has killed people, not in celebrating that killing,” the petition reads.

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich who favors the app said that drone strikes, rather than the app, are objectionable and crude.

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