Would Apple Steal From App Store Developers For iOS Features?

Apple’s iOS 5 will bring some highly anticipated features to the operating system, but many of these changes are the targets of accusations that Apple ripped them off from the work of other companies. Maybe the most glaring is the new notification system, which is being called a blatant attempt to copy Google’s work on Android. The latest focus of concerns over Apple’s co-opting of such features focuses on an app the company initially decline to approve for App Store sales, only to apparently go and integrate very similar functionality in iOS 5 itself.

Developer Greg Hughes came up for a way to sync your iPhone with iTunes over WiFi instead of a USB connection. Apple rejected his app around this time last year, telling him it was due to how he had used the iPhone SDK and because of security concerns. Since then, he’s gone on to successfully sell the app via Cydia.

With iOS 5, Apple is adding sync-over-WiFi abilities to the iPhone. The icon used to represent the feature looks suspiciously like the one Hughes uses; did Apple just steal his idea? Probably not.

The idea of wirelessly syncing a smartphone is hardly novel, and there’s no way it’s something Apple hadn’t considered in the past. Why it chose not to implement it earlier is for only Apple to know, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that Hughes’s application first planted that seed. As for copying the app’s icon, or even its name, “Wi-Fi Sync”, they’re hardly unique; ask ten people to come up with an image to depict wireless device syncing, and you’d be seeing a lot of ideas similar to what both Apple and Hughes came up with. This is all very unfortunate for Hughes, but it’s far from seeming malicious on Apple’s part.

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