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How times have changed. Americans used to marvel that the television brought conflicts such as the Vietnam War "into the living room," but a new app brings the reality of contemporary warfare in the Middle East to our iPhones. It's called Metadata+, and its purpose is simple: it tells you when drone strikes have killed someone in the Middle East.
As Cult of Mac points out, it's not the kind of thing you'd normally expect in Apple's tightly controlled app store. In fact, Metadata+ and developer Josh Begley had to suffer through five different rejections before Apple accepted it, all of which saw the app with more descriptive titles such as Drone+, Drones+, and Dronestream. Little of that remains, and if you look at the listing on the App Store today, you'll see only that it provides "Real-time updates on national security."
Metadata+ obtains this drone information by using data the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism. It shows the location of the strike on a map, and should you wish, it sends you push messages that describe the names and the activities the deceased were engaged in at the time of death. (It doesn't, however, appear to tell you why they were targeted to begin with).
Begley's attempts to get Metadata+ on the App Store started back in 2012, when Apple told him that the app was "not useful or entertaining enough." Later, after his continued efforts, Apple got to the point and told him that "We found that your app contains content that many audiences would find objectionable."
How did Begley get it on the App Store? Essentially by adding the core content later. As FastCo Exist relates, "[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," FastCo Exist says. "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."
Now the question remains as to whether or not Apple will let it stay up. If you want to get Metadata+ before it vanishes, download it here.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.