There was already a bit of a protest after Apple recently filed a series of patent applications for mobile app concepts. Those that felt Apple's intention to patent software functionality was unacceptable now have a lot more ammunition. One of the illustrations in the application appears to be a direct copy of an existing iPhone app called Where To.
There's really no mistaking the similarity, this is no accident. This particular patent is "for integrating travel services in a single application available to a portable electronic device." The owner of FutureTap, the maker of Where To is not amused saying, " We’re faced with a situation where we’ve to fear that our primary business partner is trying to “steal” our idea and design." Apple says they are not trying to steal the app's functionality, they're just using it as an example.
We're no lawyers, but one of the important elements of a patentable invention is that it is a new idea, or a meaningful modification of an existing one. By straight-up copying this app, doesn't that basically admit that there is "prior art"? What's your take here?
Apple is credited for turning the smartphone market on its head with the iPhone and the concomitant App Store. But do you know of a mobile app repository that boasts thousands of free apps across different mobile platforms? GetJar is the largest independent app store and the second largest overall. It has delivered more than 1 billion app downloads since its inception in 2005.
"We look forward to our continued partnership with Accel Partners and this new funding will be instrumental in taking GetJar to the next level in our business strategy for aggressive global expansion and product development," said GetJar founder and chief executive Ilja Laurs.
Today's Google I/O presentation offered a bit of a surprise in the form of a Chrome web app store. The store will be available for both the Chrome browser and Chrome OS whenever it is released. This really helps put the pieces together as far as Chrome OS goes. As it was before, the Chrome OS experience was looking a little too spartan.
Many of the apps we saw at I/O today are familiar names. There is a version of Tweetdeck, an attractive Sports Illustrated app, and (of course) Plants vs Zombies. Many of these apps are reminiscent of iPad apps with embedded video and crisp graphics. When the store launches there will be both free and paid apps.
According to Google, the Chrome web store will be pushed out on the Chrome dev channel "soon". We're still not sold on the idea of making an app store for web apps, but we'll reserve final judgment until we can use it. Do you think a well designed web app is worth paying for?
It's no secret that Apple and Google take different approaches to managing content in their respective smartphone app stores. Apple is notoriously hard-edged, rejecting apps seemingly on a whim. Google on the other hand, takes a more laissez faire approach where anyone can post their app to the Android Market. An iPhone developer recently contacted David Pogue of The New York Times with a story that exemplifies the difference to the nth degree.
According to the dev of Texts From Last Night for the iPhone, he was contacted out of the blue by a Google employee. The Google rep wanted to "open the lines of communication" should the developer ever want to port his app to Android. They even offered to give him a free Nexus One no questions asked. "It shows that Google is actively recruiting developers to their platform, using the enticements of free hardware and open communication," said the dev.
What's more interesting is the completely different response he has gotten from Apple. The app was rejected time after time for three months, before making it into the store. Despite the app's high popularity, the developer still has no relationship with anyone at Apple. The two approaches couldn't be more different, but which is the winning strategy?
Well surprise, surprise - the Opera Mini browser has been approved for iPhone and iPod touch on the App Store, Opera Software announced today.
"We are delighted to offer iPhone and iPod touch users a great browsing experience with the Opera Mini App," said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. "This app is another step toward Opera's goal of bringing the Web to more people in more places."
While the approval probably comes as a shock to most, Opera Software expected this to happen all along. The browser maker submitted the app on March 23, and while some thought it was merely a publicity stunt, Opera Software insisted that it went to great lengths to ensure Opera Mini complied with Apple's policies. Job well done.
According to Opera Software, not only is Opera Mini incredibly fast, but it will also help iPhone and iPod touch users save money because of its data compression capabilities. Sounds like a win-win situation all around.
Recent statistics from app tracking site AndroLib indicate that the Android Market saw a whopping 9,331 new apps in the month of March. Until recently, the number of new apps was increasing slowly, but the jump from February to March was massive. There were only 5,532 new apps in February, and that was the highest yet.
The pace of growth has been fairly constant over the last year. Each month saw slightly more apps hitting the Market as the plat form grew. If last month's numbers are any indication, Android users have a lot to be happy about. The Android Market now has nearly 30,000 apps, putting it firmly in second place to the iPhone App Store's 160,000 apps.
Aside from the sheer numbers, it's important just what apps you can get. If the apps available on a plat form don't include the one's you really want, it doesn't matter how many there are. The Android Market has made dramatic progress since it consisted of only 167 apps in its first month. Maybe next month we will see over 10,000 new apps. Which by comparison, was the total size of the store back in September.
Opera has officially submitted their Opera Mini browser to the iPhone App Store. The general consensus is that Apple will reject the browser as it duplicates the functionality of Safari, but Opera seems confident. The browser maker is touting the speed increase saying that Opera mini is six times faster than Safari. It accomplishes this with server side rendering that compresses pages to about 10% of their actual size.
Apple has in the past approved other browsers, but they have all used the Safari WebKit rendering engine. Opera Mini is completely different. We have to wonder why Opera would go to so much trouble when it seems more than likely that the app will be rejected.
Could it be that Opera plans some sort of legal maneuvering similar to the EU complaint against Microsoft that led to the browser ballot screen? For now, the ball is in Apple’s court.
In a little under two weeks from now, Apple will start shipping its much anticipated iPad tablet, but don't expect the company's App Store to be flooded with new customers. According to market research firm comScore, most upcoming iPad owners are more concerned with surfing the Web than they are with buying apps.
comScore surveyed 2,175 Internet users regarding their awareness, attitude, and opinions of the Apple iPad, as well as other e-readers and tablet devices. What the research firm found was that half of all respondents plan to cruise through cyberspace, while 48 percent said they expect to use the iPad mostly for email.
By comparison, only 26 percent said they are likely to download applications from Apple's App Store, and 36 percent said it would be "unlikely" to do so. That can't be what Apple wants to hear, but it remains to be seen if those numbers hold up once the product actually ships.
It’s amazing what the high profile launch of a smartphone can do for a mobile platform. According to numbers that come straight from The Big G, the number of Android apps has more than doubled since December. This leaves it hovering somewhere around 30,000. Most of this growth is almost certainly thanks to the massive number of Droid sales. The Android Market may not have 150,000 apps like the iPhone App Store, but still quite a feat.
Android tends to have a higher ratio of free to paid apps than other application stores, so many of these new apps are available free of charge. Will the trend continue, or are we likely to see short bursts of app development around big phone releases? Google is doing their part by handing out Droids and Nexus Ones to successful developers. Where’s the tipping point where number don’t matter anymore? There will be a point that everything you need will be on various mobile platforms. The question is: does Android have what you need?
"We received a very unfortunate email today from Apple stating that WiFi-Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks to access wireless information," the developer of WiFi-Where says. "It also appears that all other competing Wi-Fi enabled apps have been removed as well. This is very unfortunate as the past 2-3 months have seen a handful of new Wi-Fi apps get approved. Hopefully Apple will allow this functionality in a future SDK."
Similar apps that have been given the boot include WiFiTrack, WiFiFoForum, yFy Network Finder, WiFi Get, eWifi, and WiFi Analyzer. But what's most puzzling is Apple's inconsistent stance. Some of these apps have been been around a long time, while others were blocked until November 2009, at which point Apple approved them, only to now get kicked out.