500px Back on the App Store

After falling foul of Apple’s slightly suspicious boob aversion which they claim is on the grounds of taste and decency but which makes you doubt their claimed love of beauty, it appears that the 500px app is back on the App Store, with a minor update.

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The only slight reference to the app’s disappearance is in the update notes; the main noticeable change is a ‘report image’ button which can be used by people if they feel an image is inappropriate – and would then presumably spark a debate over the exact difference between boobs as art and boobs as porn.

Why the original creator of WiFi Sync probably doesn’t have a leg to stand on

One thing that was quickly remarked upon after Apple’s announcements at last week’s WWDC Keynote was that once again Apple had effectively rendered some third party apps redundant, such as most basic ToDo apps.

What was also remarked was the ‘curious’ similarity between iOS 5’s new WiFi Sync feature and a jailbreak-only app that was rejected from the App Store last year. As it was originally submitted to Apple, developer Greg Hughes finds it awfully suspicious that it is now available as part of the OS and with the same name and logo to boot, and is seeking legal advice.

To all this, I say codswallop.

Let’s take a look at this and see why Greg Hughes probably doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on*.

*note: I know little of the law, I am just, as I often do, calling it as I see it.

The name

WiFi Sync vs WiFi Sync. How exactly can Apple think no-one will notice the near-identical names and purposes of these features?  But hang on. What, exactly, is it that this new feature of iOS is offering? Syncing over WiFi. How many choices are there for names that explain exactly what’s going on without overcomplicating things? My list comprises of Syncing Over WiFi or WiFi Sync. As you’d expect from Apple, they went for the snappier one.

It goes a little beyond that, of course. This sounds all very similar to the trademark battle Apple is currently fighting over the mark ‘App Store’. Isn’t it a little hypocritical of Apple to defend one mark whilst trampling all over another? Well, apart from the fact that ‘WiFi’ and ‘Sync’ are in common usage and have been for years, while ‘app’ is something that only started to come into use with the launch of Apple’s App Store? Oh, right.

This is already looking like less of a ‘coincidence’ to me. But what about that logo? How can that be explained away?

The logo

TUAW raises the notion that the similarity between the two logos is either an ‘amazing coincidence’ or a case of Apple plagiarism. At first, the evidence seems pretty damming. This is the ‘original’ WiFi Sync logo:

And this is Apple’s ‘new’ WiFi Sync logo:

Well look at that. How can Apple possibly think they could get away with this one?

Except, let’s take a closer look at the logo itself. Don’t the elements of both of them look familiar?

Ah yes. It looks to me like Apple’s long-standard WiFi icon inside the almost as long-standing iSync icon. Here they are separately:

WiFi. Sync. This is all starting to make a lot more sense.

So, unless Mr Hughes can provide proof that Apple have in some way stolen the mechanism with which his app worked, he likely won’t get anywhere. Of course, the press do enjoy a good underdog-versus-major-corporation story, so expect them to milk it for a little while, alongside pictures of Greg looking a bit upset. Okay, he doesn’t really pull it off in that example. But still.

Apple’s Rejection of Sony Reader: Greed, or Control? [u]

There’s a bit of news flying about today saying that Apple have rejected a Sony Reader app from the iOS App Store (or ‘the’ App Store, as Apple would have it), amidst an apparent change in policy for the iPhone maker and App Store curator.

Apple, apparently, want all in-app purchases to go through Apple’s own systems, rather than through third party sales methods (such as that which the Amazon Kindle app, as well as certain newspaper apps such as the Times app, currently employ).

There are only a few reasons I can think of why Apple would make this change. Firstly, they may simply be wanting to muscle out their competition (Kindle and the Sony Reader of course compete with iBooks and the iPad, in both book sales and hardware sales). It’s not the first time and I doubt it will be the last that Apple have tried such a thing.

Secondly, they could simply be trying to maintain a consistent system for purchases for all users and apps – which might also be another sign of the rumoured subscription model coming along in the near future. Apple will probably try to take this ground if there is a widespread uproar whether it is their real intention or not.

Finally, they could simply just be being greedy. Apple take a 30% but of in-app purchases, the same they do with app sales. They’ve recently crossed the 10 billion app mark; even assuming 90% of those are free and the other 10% sell for only a buck, that’s still m for Apple form app sales (and my figures are both entirely made up, and quite pessimistic). I don’t know the figures for in-app purchases, but I’m guessing there is potentially a sizable margin there that Apple wants their slice of – and it would be very nice, I’m sure, for Apple to take 30% of their competitors’ profits.

Apple’s intentions may become more clear in the near future. Maybe people will kick up enough of a fuss (as there was over the Google Voice rejection – sorry, extended review period) and Apple will have to provide an answer. Or (and this one is far more likely), the forthcoming iOS 4.3 will come along, and give us a better indication of how they see their platform developing into the future.

 

Update: Apple actually commented on this issue, stating this was less a new policy, more a more rigorous enforcing of an existing rule: that apps that allow in-app purchases through their own payment systems also give users the option of using Apple’s in-app purchasing system. Also, the Daily was released (in the US at least) which brought with it a change to the iTunes terms and conditions for subscriptions, which presumably Apple will also take a 30% cut of.