Apple pulls app after its users complained it doesn't work
A phone app identifying boats full of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea has been pulled from Apple’s app store after being branded as a fake.
Called I Sea, the programme claimed to support the charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) via users searching satellite images of sections of the Med and identifying any migrant boats they found.
However a number of experts have said the app does not work and that images used are static.
Matt Burke, a technology blogger, extensively analysed the app and concluded it was useless.
He said: “From the app level, all the infrastructure they would need to actually work is there.
It just seems it's not actually hooked up to anything, and in fact, would likely be prohibitively expensive to do so
"It just seems it's not actually hooked up to anything, and in fact, would likely be prohibitively expensive to do so.”
The app was removed from Apple’s app store on Monday afternoon.
"It's a terrible fake," iOS developer Alex Kent said on Twitter. "My 'live' satellite image is the same as in all the screenshots."
The app doesn't split up the sea for users to scan and save refugees, as it promises to do.
In fact, the location of the images the app offers to users are all the same, developer Matthieu Rivière found.
Even when it's night in the Mediterranean Sea, the app shows pictures taken during the day.
Grey for Good, the advertising agency behind the app, claimed that the app was in “testing mode”.
A statement on its website said: “At this time it is loading and mapping satellite images to its GPS coordinates and users are able to report an anomaly in their plot of sea.
"The report function is sending out an alert whenever a user flags something in the plot of sea they are watching.
“During this testing period, the satellite images available are not in real-time. Grey for Good are still working to optimise the technology, but we are proud of what we have achieved so far and are grateful to all those who have shown interest in helping to improve the app further.”
However Matt Burke questioned this response.
“It’s interesting that they are calling it a test,” he said. “I didn’t read all the news coverage, but I’m not aware of any indicating it was anything other than a real app.”
MAOS initially had allowed its branding to be used for the app but has since requested it to be removed.
It also said it was in no way involved in the development of the app.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “All we can say on the developers’ behalf is that the app probably sounded interesting in concept form but failed miserably in execution.
"We were asked to support the launch of the app in concept only.”