iScream for iPhone

iScream was born out of multiple frustrations in dealing with Apple’s new iPhone and App Store:

  1. The awkwardness of trying to organize icons on the iPhone home screen, buggy and unforgiving in implementation.
  2. Having a number of ‘art applications’ rejected on the App Store for ‘not being functional enough’

iScream consists of 16x iPhone applications that do absolutely nothing. Each one has a custom icon, which is a small section of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. Using the iPhone’s built in home layout interface, one can jumble up or re-align the tiles until the original painting is revealed; locked behind the iPhone home screen with the icon spacing acting as black cage bars.

The iPhone App Store is based on a curated model, whereby Apple decide which apps are allowed into the app store. And they reject apps based on ridiculously subjective and personal reasons such as “it isn’t functional enough” or “it wouldn’t appeal to a wide audience” or “there already are similar apps to this”. This might be acceptable if the Apple App Store was one of many stores from which users of the iPhone could choose to buy their apps from. In that case it is the right of any store owner to choose and hand pick what it wants to sell. However, Apple goes further by prohibiting its users to buy or install apps from any other shops. If Apple rejects an application from their store, there is no legal way to distribute – let alone sell – that application to the public. This is the equivalent of buying a record player from Sony, and only being allowed to buy and listen to records from Sony Stores, which Sony deems appropriate for you to listen. While everyone I’m sure will not stand for the record player analogy, for some reason they are happy with the iPhone / App situation.

Music “Raindrops keep falling on my head” excerpt by Henry Mancini. A joyous ode to the heartwarming, folksy soundtracks used by the official iPhone commercials, acting as an ironic reminder of the infiltration of this ‘game-changing’ device – and the values it brings – into our lives. Its ‘fantastic’ features and powerful marketing acting as a distraction while pushing such closed systems – that defy the owners / users the most basic rights of choosing what they wish to install – to become accepted by the public without question.