Weekly Poll: Is Apple Stealing Features from Developers?

With all the new features that are popping up in both Lion and iOS 5, there’s a lot of speculation as to exactly where Apple got these ideas. A company that’s known for its innovation is suddenly being accused of being completely unoriginal and building off of the work of others without giving credit.

For instance, some say the new Notifications Center is a derivative of Teehan+Lax’s famous home screen concept. TUAW takes this conversation even further with a recent article that points out several new official features that Apple owes to jailbreak developers.

One of the most shocking stories published in this arena is a recent Cult of Mac article where a Cydia developer claims that Apple not only stole his idea for Wifi Sync, but even ripped off his icon!

The interesting counterargument to all this is that we see all these ideas and demand that Apple give them to us, then we they do, we fault them for it! After all, is adding a unified notification screen really such a unique idea that Apple shouldn’t try it because others have done so? That argument simply doesn’t seem sound and is definitely no way to keep your users happy.

So what do you think? Is Apple shamelessly stealing the ideas of others or are they doing an admirable job of giving users exactly what they’re asking for? Where is the line between the two?


  • http://www.saucestudio.co.uk Simon Longson

    I think it’s a pointless argument.

    Cydia is for things apple’s iPhone is missing. Why fault them for adding it as standard.

    Fair enough logo design is the same that’s a little bit shameful but saying “stole his idea for Wifi Sync”… come on how many people came up with that “idea”. May have been the first implementation of it but thats not to say the idea wasn’t floating about apples offices whilst iPhone was in development.

    Things like this kinda piss me off cause like you said “The interesting counterargument to all this is that we see all these ideas and demand that Apple give them to us, then we they do, we fault them for it!”

    • http://www.saucestudio.co.uk Simon Longson

      Also it’s almost impossible to not “steal” features from people nowadays. As a developer all you can ever do is rework and maybe adapt whats already out there pretty much.

    • Leonick

      Add to that, that guy wasn’t firs with wifi syncing, Zune had it, eve the AppleTV did if I am not mistaken…

      As for the logo, apple I plement a wifi sync feature, for logo they combine their own wifi logo and the near universal sync logo, kind of an obvious combination.

      I agree with you, why fault them for integrating more features. Maybe Apple should stop shipping a text editor, browser and media player with their OS?
      Maybe Apple should have never done iOS, I mean we already had windows mobile?

      • pinz

        we already had windows *rofl*…. I had once (and only once) a windows phone and was happy as it crashed to the floor, so it gave me reason to change…

      • Leonick

        @Pinz
        Exactly, windows mobiles wasn’t exactly good.
        But that’s kind of the point, if Apple are stealing and are evil as soon as they do something ever done by another developer then maybe we should stick with the first ever implementation of everything no matter how bad it is.
        Why wouldn’t Apple be allowed to try to one up third party developers?

      • Joe

        “I had once (and only once) a windows phone and was happy as it crashed to the floor, so it gave me reason to change…”

        You’re a lying, trolling sack of shit. You’ve never had a WP7 device. In fact, I doubt you’ve ever even seen one in person. So stop with the obvious lies you dumb bastard.

  • Matt D

    Please. This whole “ripped off wifi sync and the similar logo proves it” is rubbish. The logo is a combination of two logos Apple has already been using, for iSync on Mac, and the wifi logo used on iOS. Wifi + sync. I would have made the exact same logo too if I was told to make a wifi sync logo.

    As for the actual wifi sync idea, this dev definitely isn’t the first person to have the idea. If he can prove that Apple have actually stolen his code and implementation, that’s fair enough, but he can’t claim that he owns the wifi sync “idea”.

    I think the new notifications drawer can be attributed a lot more to Android than anything on Cydia.. where do you think JB devs got notfication drawer ideas from in the first place.

    The tech industry has always been about taking other peoples ideas and building on them, and Apple is definitely not an exception. I don’t see the problem with that, that’s what Apple is all about: Take previous ideas, and put them together into something that exceeds the user-experience of anything before it.

  • http://Everyonedoesittoday... Peter G

    How about pinch to zoom, if i recall then it’s Apple’s idea, and what would Android be with out it…

    • http://www.metzener.com/ Dave M.

      Actually, Pinch/Zoom and other touch gestures were around before Apple started using them on the iPhone and iPad. I clearly remember seeing YouTube videos of some one in front of a very large screen pushing pictures around, zooming, shrinking, spinning them and maps with their fingers.

      I believe it was a college project somewhere, but I don’t remember where.

      Apple is known for taking ideas from others and making them theirs. Xerox shows Steve Jobs and company a windowing system and the next thing you know, it’s in the Macintosh.

      Is this a bad thing? No, if it were not for Xerox showing Apple it’s windowing OS, we would still be using text displays. Microsoft steals from Apple, Apple steals from Android, Android steals from Microsoft, etc… So long as the consumers benefit from all this copying, I really don’t care how the features are derived.

  • pinz

    I think many of the apps available at cydia are not approved software by Apple. The reason for the denial was maybe, because it was already in the pipe inside Apples development cycle. One of the most reasons for not approving an app is, that a alrerady existing function was only “dressed” new.

    Anyhow I think Apple get’s a lot of feature requests and if they have a decent number of similar requests they will put into one of the next releases. Not everyone is up for an jailbreak (maybe because it’s a company phone, maybe they are almost happy and because of one feature missing loosing warrenty is not the best deal at all).

    One of the comments in CoM is adressing the icon issue really good: It is just a combination of well known icons from Apple’s stock iSync and Airport/WiFi. To create a new icon just for that purpose is not logic, because Appple try to keep things simple “just works”-attitude.

  • gtbka

    Cydia developers have been making awesome stuff, but does that mean Apple can’t improve their original feature? Do developers just want Apple to make a stupid phone just so they could write code and sell it? Many disappointed by Apple copying, but don’t forgot a good ending for MobileNotifier developer. If more developers can design well thought out tweak and write good code, I believe Apple would want you to be in their team! (so you won’t end up in competitors ;D )

  • http://www.metzener.com/ Dave M.

    As far as “Read It Later” and Readability features go, as well as the new Reminders app and such. These new features are pretty basic. For new iOS users, they are probably more than adequate. However, for us geeks, we will still wind up using Instapaper and 2Do or other more powerful apps. Why? Because we want the features that they bring.

    I paid for Instapaper and will continue to support Instapaper after iOS 5 comes out. I like it’s features like the ability to print all the saved articles into a PDF or MOBI file that can be sent to iBooks for reading. Apple’s Read It Later feature just saves bookmarks to a special list that can be brought up later in Mobile Safari.

    I use iCabMobile for a browser. When iOS 5 is out, I will still probably use iCabMobile. iCabMobile has the ability to download files and send them to DropBox which Apple’s Mobile Safari will still not do even though it will sport tabs like iCabMobile.

    Again, the new features are great for new iOS users, but for existing iOS users, we will continue to look for better, faster, stronger and cooler alternatives.

  • popo

    As for the Teehan+Lax concept that Apple supposedly stole: That concept itself is a direct port of the Nokia homescreen which has been in use for years.

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