Did Apple Reject A Developer’s App And Copied It In iOS 5?
Apple announced iOS 5 a few days back and they have "copied" a lot of features from others - developers, Android and other platforms. That in itself exposes Apple's hypocrisy - they are always ready to sue others who they think have copied them. They even sued Samsung for making phones that with "rectangular design with rounded corners, black border and array of icons". If a report on The Register is to be believed, Apple has sunk to a new low.
According to Greg Hughes, a third year Computer Science student at University of Birmingham, he submitted his app called Wi-Fi Sync to the Apple App Store. The app syncs the iPhone with iTunes wirelessly using Wi-Fi. Apple however rejected his app on the ground that the app poses security concerns. Hughes, then, submitted the app to the Cydia store where it went on to become the top-selling app. The Cydia store is an app store for jailbroken iPhones.
One year later at WWDC 2011, Apple announced iOS 5 with a lot of "new" features. One of the so-called new features in iOS 5 is "Wi-Fi Sync" - the same name as that of Hughes' app which they rejected. The name "Wi-Fi Sync" is a pretty generic name and we cannot exactly conclude that they copied it from Hughes' app. But this is Apple we are talking about here - the same company which argued that App Store is not a generic term and does not necessarily mean a store for apps.
If you look at the features of Apple's Wi-Fi Sync, it syncs the iOS device over Wi-Fi with iTunes from a PC or a Mac. That is basically the same function which Hughes' Wi-Fi Sync does. But it might be argued that syncing over Wi-Fi is not such a revolutionary idea and Apple might already be developing it before Hughes' app. True, there is no way to prove that Apple had not been developing it before Hughes' app. But, if they were already developing Wi-Fi Sync when Hughes submitted his app, it means Apple's engineering team took more than one year to develop such a small feature - a feature which a single part-time developer, who is also studying for his Computer Science degree, developed and released one full year ahead of them. I do not know about you, but I find that difficult to believe that Apple already were developing it at the time when Hughes submitted his app.
The final icing is however the icons. Take a look at the icons below.
The icon on the left if that of Hughes' app and that on the right is the icon of Apple's Wi-Fi. Except for the background color, the two icons look identical to each other. Well, it might be argued that this is a pretty standard icon - a Wi-Fi symbol and a circular arrow to symbolize sync. But remember that Apple has sued others for having similar icons as well.
If taken separately, these cases of identical name, feature and icon could be coincidence. But take three cases together and, to me, it seems like that Apple has ripped Hughes' app.
There is no doubt that Apple has copied features from some of the top apps for iOS 5. That in itself should cause concern for the iOS developers. If they take it to the level of rejecting the apps and copying their features, developers for iOS should be alarmed.