I really love what Johannes P Osterhoff does: his Google performance where he made his search requests public. That discomfort means to adjust your life to constant surveillance. It’s about being completely open about everything, and now there is a really interesting range in documentation of what he went through in this time. — Olia Lialina, EXBERLINER, Feb 2012

Another App Store

johannes p osterhoff - Another App Store

In my recent seminar at BTK, students made arty apps—ones that most likely would not be approved by Apple. We therefor opened Another App Store.

Since its launch, the App Store is lacking a clear set of rules about what content is and is not allowed inside the successful platform. This is not so much a problem for the transfer of established publishing to the new medium. But, as could be be seen with several examples, it is for projects that are satirical or play with the limitations of the platform itself.

My students asked themselves times and again if the app they had to make during my recent seminar at Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule, actually would be approved by Apple or not.

Eventually we tried to make a virtue out of necessity and explicitly made concepts for artistic apps, that had a satirical and political part and as such were unlikely to be approved by Apple. We came to understand that art, satire and politics are underrepresented in the App Store and that this will be difficult to change.

So we opened Another App Store, one that was capable of containing our contributions to App Culture.

As Brien Chen from Wired puts it: “We in the press don’t know to what extent we can retain our editorial freedom in the App Store. Working with Apple’s current opaque policy, we’re left to trust that Apple will do the right thing. And time and time again, Apple’s App Store reviewers have been proven fallible, as recently shown by the rejection of Mark Fiore’s Pulitzer-winning cartoon. Apple rejected the toon because it “ridicules public figures,” and after coming under fire in the press, the company approved the app. But in reversing its decision, Apple still did not make its content policy clear. Instead, the Fiore episode raised more questions. Does it mean we can now publish satire? Or does it mean we have to win a Pulitzer in order to publish satire? Or does it mean we have to stir up negative press in order to publish satire?”

Projects from the Another App Store
(links lead to students’ final presentation slides, some in German):

Christian Rösike—The App Store App
Even though Apple introduced In-App-Purchase, it is highly unlikely that Apple will approve an app that exactly mimics the business model of the App Store inside the App Store. Nevertheless the App Store App is in now way inferior to its bigger brother when it come to functionality and look and feel. During his presentation Christian only showed unmodified screenshots from the App Store :)

Rut Sigurðardóttir—iConfess
The purpose of the app is to give people the opportunity to free themselves from sins they have committed. Sinners can buy an absolution and start again with a clean conscience towards god. Absolution for smaller sins start from 99 Cents to more serious ones like murder for up to 999 Euros. I do not know if In-App-Purchase range that high. Have a look at the final presentation and at the exact prices. Another funny thing about this app was that a quite similar app published by the Catholic Church got approved.

Simon Siefert and Christoph Rauscher—CrackApp
On launch, CrackApp pretends not to be launched and again shows the user’s home screen. When the user again taps on the Crack App icon, the front window appears to be bursting. The more the user tabs on the screen, the more intense the shattering of the display. After the display, chips inside the device and its backside are shattered, it is possile to “look through” the device with the built-in camera. Have a look at CrackApp in detail.

Jessika Klemm—Windows Media Player App
The infamous music player from Microsoft comes to the iPhone. Unsurprisingly the Windows Media Player App lets you upgrade from iOS to Windows Mobile very easily. And unfortunately it does not play AAC files. Have a look at the Windows-like iPhone design.

Stephan Winkler—Doom 2011
Great augmented reality ego shooter piece that lets you creep into Apple Stores late at night and “play” in a doom-like manner with the hardware situated there. Play along!

Claudia Matthias—Forbidden Fruits
Inspired by the infamous Wobble App, Claudia’s app presents examples of famous painted nudes. It is a matter of course, that on the masterpieces can be shaken and that they do not only wobble but go the full monty. Presentation slides.

Oliver Schaal—iRacist, iPassengerCheck, iCustomer
An app that let users do what all of us do all the the time—classifying people according to their outer appearance. A practical application of the app with higher chances to be accepted by Apple facilitates risk classification of flight passengers by similar means. Another modification is called iBusinessContact and lets users classify scanned people according to the suitability as customers or business contacts.

Thomas Bretzke—iWindows 95

A great remix of two interfaces that are meant to be from so different ages of interface design. iWindows 95 is not only an emulator that lets you run an entire office suite on your mobile phone, but it is also the proof that rounded corners and gloss effects are nothing more that interchangeable styling on top the same interface principles. I am exaggerating, of course.

Oleg Hein—Leaks Everywhere
An app that is made to brings together the interface commodities of an app and features of Wikileaks. But can there be any secrecy in a closed platform like the App Store? Check out the presentation slides of Leaks Everywhere.

Thanks to my esteemed colleague Prof. Thomas Noller.