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iCensr [application rundown]

iCensr has a maintained page at

iCensr, in case you hadn’t read my past post, is an application—made in association with the NCAC—to censor your environment by taking pictures and editing out content with a touch of your finger. The overall aim is a satirical look at the arbitrariness of censorship and how it can create a new, possibly more scandalous, message as a result the censorship process.

Before designing and developing the application itself, I began by researching similar applications already available in the application. There are four main types I am interested in: (1) censorship applications, (2) photo editing applications, (3) photo sharing applications, and (4) applications sponsored by and promoting other causes / nonprofits.

Censorship Applications

There are some censorship applications already developed. Applications for censoring foul language are particularly popular. Applications such as Censor, Mr. Censored, and iBleep all allow users to generate the classic “bleep” sound to censor their language in real time.

There is also Hide My Secret!, an image editor that allows users to pixilate portions of their photos. While this is similar to iCensr, I believe that it is sufficiently different because Hide My Secret! is meant to be a serious tool for unobtrusively concealing information before sharing pictures while iCensr is employs an obtrusive black bar in order to make a clear and satirical statement about censorship.

Photo Editing Applications

There is no end to photo editing applications such as Photogene, iRetouch, and AutoFocus.  They tend to be priced at $2.99 and offer a suit of tools such as cropping, sharpening, levels, gama correction, rgb balance, saturation, color temperature, clip art and more.  These are generic tool sets with more a focus of enabling users to realize their visions rather than guiding users to a particular end.

A more specific editing application would be iSteam.  Users blow in the microphone to “steam up” the window and draw on the screen to wipe away the “moisture”.  The application is simple in concept but complete in user interface and experience.

’stachetastic is more in the way of what I’m creating.  Users edit their pictures to add a mustache or beard and edit sed facial hair.  The creators also developed mulltizer and 80s hair.  What interests me is in how specific these applications are.  While they allow the flexibility of editing any picture, they perform one task.

Photo Sharing Applications

Photo manipulation and sharing is already integrated in AutoFocus, which allows users to upload to Facebook, Picassa, and Flickr.  There are, however, other, dedicated photo sharing applications.

Phanfare Photon synchronizes and accesses photos and video from Phanfare’s website to the iPhone and allows editing on the website.

Also, twitter applications such as Twitterific allows users to upload pictures from their iPhone to twitpic

Cause Related Applications

The blogs The Extraordinaries and Have Fun * Do Good saved me a lot of effort researching promotional applications for nonprofits with articles such as iPhone Apps for Nonprofits. As is pointed out in the post, there aren’t a lot of applications designed for nonprofits.

Cost: so far, most of these promotional apps do not charge for their services. While this is understandable when you are trying to promote a cause, it prevents any opportunity for revenue collection through donations.  Pet Earth offers a “lite” version that is free as well as a complete version, costing $2.99 and donating a portion to plant trees.  People Against a Violent Environment approaches the money issue differently by linking users back to the website with information on how to make donations.  The problem with this design is that it requires a great deal of effort for the user to do make a donation.


  • informational: applications like Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch are dense with facts, including a simple rundown of what fish you should and shouldn’t eat according to sustainable fishing practices and full descriptions of the fish and why the fishing practices of them are or are not sustainable.
  • awareness: Another method is People Against a Violent Environment factoid applications for sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse awareness.  These applications pop-up one sentence statistics with buttons to “Dismiss” or “Help Now,” directing you to the website with more information.
  • entertainment: applications like Pet Earth make environmental awareness a game as players stop disasters and polluters and earn trees to plant on their planet.
  • Impulse: there is talk about an application iGive, which would pop up random charities and give the user an option to donate money to the charity.  I would be very interested to see how they set up the money transfer.
  • Subsidized guilt: applications like Melodeo’s Christmas music app give a portion of the money spent on the application to a charity—Salvation Army, in this case.

Design: overall quality and complexity of the applications varied strongly.  People Against a Violent Environment’s application was clean and simple but linked to a messy website while Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch application was bordering on utilitarian but drilled down for a large amount of information.  User interface design was a bit of an afterthought and took backseat to the main purpose.  Most of these applications, in addition, could have been used on most any platform.

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