Apple copied Wi-Fi sync app for iOS 5, student claims

Apple has a bit of a reputation for taking ideas from the jailbreak community and incorporating them into their products. One recent example is the notification system in iOS 5, taken from a similar app called MobileNotifier after Apple hired its developer. But one student is claiming that Apple took his app and modified it for use in its OS.

The feature, known as Wi-Fi sync, will let users sync their iOS device wirelessly automatically. The system will detect when the device has been put on charge and begin searching for its larger companion. If the paired computer is found, the syncing process is set in motion. Users can also provoke a sync manually through the Settings menu.

According to the Huffington Post, Greg Hughes had actually submitted Wi-Fi Sync to the App Store over a year before Apple built in support. The notable part of Hughes' App Store rejection was that Apple personally phoned him and asked for a CV. Hughes decided instead to take his app to the Cydia Store, where he sold 50,000 copies at $9.99 per download.

While it would be easy to dismiss Hughes' complaint as coming from a bitter development, eerie similarities exist between Hughes and Apple's solution. Notably, the icons are near identical, bar a colour fix and a few other adjustments.

Speaking to The Register, Hughes said: "Obviously I was fairly shocked. I'd been selling my app with that name and icon for at least a year. Apple knew that, as I'd submitted it to them, so it was surprising to see that."

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Seeing as WiFi Sync can both be classed as a phrase and a name, it's hard to see if there is any point following that case. If it was not initially trademarked, I doubt anything will come of it.

JAGFin1 said,
Seeing as WiFi Sync can both be classed as a phrase and a name, it's hard to see if there is any point following that case. If it was not initially trademarked, I doubt anything will come of it.

Indeed, I bet MS called their Zune Wifi Sync capability just that, Wifi Sycning. Not sure, just know they did have it.

I was wondering the same thing. I even bought that app from Cydia store I thought it would be discontinued after iOS 5 is out.

I thought of having Wi-Fi syncing on the day I got my first smartphone (that was like a few years ago). I'm sure the concept is not new to Apple (and they've probably been researching about it)

You use their SDK, so of course most of the stuffs will be similar or same. There's not much "WiFi" icon variation you can design anyway

People who are really upset at Apple about this are either trolls or clueless. This dude did not invent WiFi nor did he patent his implementation of WiFi syncing. He might have made approx. $500,000 but he should have taken the job at Apple. I'm sure he'll still get a job if he wants. If he's talented enough to do this on his own then Apple could certainly use him. But he has no right to cry about this.

My Zune 80 GB did Wi-Fi syncing just fine back in 2007. But I really didn't think much about the feature. Mostly because of how slow WiFi is anyway and the fact that you had to initiate the syncing. Apple solution is clever because when the device is connected to a power source it automatically looks via WiFi for the sync.

I don't know if I really feel too bad for this guy, tbh. I feel worse for all the developers who have made to do list apps for the iOS. I doubt there apps will be in much demand once to do lists are integrated in the operating system.

Shadrack said,
My Zune 80 GB did Wi-Fi syncing just fine back in 2007. But I really didn't think much about the feature. Mostly because of how slow WiFi is anyway and the fact that you had to initiate the syncing. Apple solution is clever because when the device is connected to a power source it automatically looks via WiFi for the sync.

I don't know if I really feel too bad for this guy, tbh. I feel worse for all the developers who have made to do list apps for the iOS. I doubt there apps will be in much demand once to do lists are integrated in the operating system.


Indeed, hardly a new concept.
Hmm I wonder if syncing can be initiated manually without plugging in the cable.

As for the to do list/reminder apps. Well apps like Things will probably still sell, they have version for multiple platform and sync between them. Apples solution do sync but only with the calendar on mac, no separate app.
It will be much harder to make reminders app successful on iOS now though, that's a given, but then, can you really fault apple for wanting one such feature on the device by default? (Guess you can in a way, I mean, MS were apparently anti-competitive by including a browser in their OS...)

Unless he patented the idea or Apple directly copied any portion of his code then I don't see the problem. People "steal" ideas from each other all the time, get over it.

All tech companies are going to the Cloud, hardly a shocking, unforseeable development by Apple. So they were interested in hiring a developer already working on it? Again, hardly shocking.

He made his choice & his money. The logo looks similar? Yeah, well it also looks like Androids Sync + WiFi icons.

thommcg said,

The logo looks similar? Yeah, well it also looks like Androids Sync + WiFi icons.

Better yet, Apples 2003 iSync logo

thommcg said,
All tech companies are going to the Cloud, hardly a shocking, unforseeable development by Apple. So they were interested in hiring a developer already working on it? Again, hardly shocking.

He made his choice & his money. The logo looks similar? Yeah, well it also looks like Androids Sync + WiFi icons.


Should be noted that Androids sync and wifi icons looks like everyone elses, just like apples. Because they are common icons for technologies...

Leonick said,

Should be noted that Androids sync and wifi icons looks like everyone elses, just like apples. Because they are common icons for technologies...

Yep, sorry, wasn't implying any Android copying

virtorio said,
So, would everyone be happy if Apple didn't implement Wireless Sync in iOS?

Yes. They don't want Apple to have these new features. It gives them less to bitch about in the stupid fanboy wars.

I love how you submit an app, its rejected, then poof, made into the core OS...

NAAA - your version was unsafe. See, we updated the grammar!

Ruciz said,
I love how you submit an app, its rejected, then poof, made into the core OS...

NAAA - your version was unsafe. See, we updated the grammar!


Or rather, it were never going to be allowed because it breaks their rules.
And, a feature letting iOS devices sync over wifi was just just a question of time just like it is for all other mobiles OSes or manufacturers...

Leonick said,

Or rather, it were never going to be allowed because it breaks their rules.
And, a feature letting iOS devices sync over wifi was just just a question of time just like it is for all other mobiles OSes or manufacturers...

Leonick, you're a one side thinker. Just admit it.... Apple is doing a "Microsoft" (referring to business practices). Microsoft has been cleaning themselves up while apple has been getting dirtier.

jesseinsf said,

Leonick, you're a one side thinker. Just admit it.... Apple is doing a "Microsoft" (referring to business practices). Microsoft has been cleaning themselves up while apple has been getting dirtier.

Implementing an idea that has been around for quite a while (several years) that people have been asking for is not stealing just because someone implemented that idea a short while before them. It would be stealing if it was implemented in the exact same way or used his code, they are not, for starters Apples own implementation will probably work correctly...

Darth Radeon said,
Apple steals from the good of the people, makes profits..

Because they couldn't have gotten the idea before that? They must have stolen it? The combining of the syncing logo and wifi logo is in any way unique? Seems like an obvious combo if you ask me...

-=SEDIN=- said,
Of course....its Apple after all

Because they couldn't have gotten the idea before that? They must have stolen it? The combining of the syncing logo and wifi logo is in any way unique? Seems like an obvious combo if you ask me...

Well, don't forget about this poor student when android and others implement wifi syncing then, they are thieves just as much if you can call Apple that...

Leonick said,

Because they couldn't have gotten the idea before that? They must have stolen it? The combining of the syncing logo and wifi logo is in any way unique? Seems like an obvious combo if you ask me...

Well, don't forget about this poor student when android and others implement wifi syncing then, they are thieves just as much if you can call Apple that...

There is a difference. Android allows most apps that do the same thing as the stock android already does. So yea, they would of implemented their feature as well but would of allowed this person to use the Android Market to sell his app to.

The main thing here is Apple denied it, then all of a sudden came out with their own that looks similar with the same name. If Apple didnt DENY this app, then I doubt it would of been an issue for the dev.

-=SEDIN=- said,
Of course....its Apple after all

Yes, because we all know other people and companies never did anything like this. Oh wait...

techbeck said,

There is a difference. Android allows most apps that do the same thing as the stock android already does. So yea, they would of implemented their feature as well but would of allowed this person to use the Android Market to sell his app to.

The main thing here is Apple denied it, then all of a sudden came out with their own that looks similar with the same name. If Apple didnt DENY this app, then I doubt it would of been an issue for the dev.


Well he should have known from the beginning that it would never be allowed on the appstore...
As for apple implemetning it, well it was only a question of time as it is with any other mobile os or manufacturer...

And as I said, there is nothing unique about the name or the logo. The name is what is done over what protocol. The icon is a combination of the wifi and the sync logo...

I'm sure that Apple had zero plans or design or implementation work done on the idea of built in WiFi syncing before this app came about. Even the first Zune had WiFi syncing, didn't it?

Even if he did patent the specific implementation, if their implementation was different then it wouldn't matter, and of course he couldn't get a patent on WiFi device syncing because that's been done before and is a fairly obvious idea.

Stetson said,
I'm sure that Apple had zero plans or design or implementation work done on the idea of built in WiFi syncing before this app came about. Even the first Zune had WiFi syncing, didn't it?

Even if he did patent the specific implementation, if their implementation was different then it wouldn't matter, and of course he couldn't get a patent on WiFi device syncing because that's been done before and is a fairly obvious idea.

Exactly. The wifi sync is just one of the components apple needed to do to cut the cable for their iOS devices. iCloud was needed as well to sync documents between the devices, as well as the numerous changes Apple has made to the music apps etc allowing you to now remove stuff from the device without syncing.

Not to sound like a dick but he should have patented his solution. If not you risk others copying you. This has been the case for ages. He made enough money to apply for a patent by the looks of this.

.Neo said,
Not to sound like a dick but he should have patented his solution. If not you risk others copying you. This has been the case for ages. He made enough money to apply for a patent by the looks of this.

Apple will end up giving him a job, so everyone wins.

.Neo said,
Not to sound like a dick but he should have patented his solution. If not you risk others copying you. This has been the case for ages. He made enough money to apply for a patent by the looks of this.

Exactly. No patent, no protection. And then it's fair game for everybody else.
If nobody could copy anybody else, we'd still be in the stone age.
It's sad to see that people are shocked by stuff like this. But of course it's soooo wrong when Apple does it...

.Neo said,
Not to sound like a dick but he should have patented his solution. If not you risk others copying you. This has been the case for ages. He made enough money to apply for a patent by the looks of this.

look up how much a patent lawyer costs per hour.... we can't just screw everyone who can't afford them.

capr said,

look up how much a patent lawyer costs per hour.... we can't just screw everyone who can't afford them.

Seeing as the government runs the patent office, are you surprised?

.Neo said,
Not to sound like a dick but he should have patented his solution. If not you risk others copying you. This has been the case for ages. He made enough money to apply for a patent by the looks of this.

He can't patent it because he didn't invent wireless syncing. It's existed in some form or another on phones for years. My flip phone from 2005 had crude wireless sync for contacts over 3G (to AT&T's online backup, but it's still a proof-of-concept).

What he would have needed to do is copywrite his implementation of it - the icons, format, etc. Luckily, the mere act of publishing it counts as a copywrite in the USA, so while he can't claim he invented wireless sync, what he can do is take Apple to court for copywrite infringement.

Unfortunately, if it looks slightly different, there's no case. That's why Apple can sue Samsung for patent infringement (it's the idea behind the concept), while this kid cannot.

.Neo said,
Not to sound like a dick but he should have patented his solution. If not you risk others copying you. This has been the case for ages. He made enough money to apply for a patent by the looks of this.

That the patenting system is kinda broken isnt new but could someone really patent syncing over wifi?

capr said,

look up how much a patent lawyer costs per hour.... we can't just screw everyone who can't afford them.

Yet that's what happens pretty much everywhere since the patenting system was introduced: If you don't patent your (brilliant) ideas there's a good chance someone or some company will copy it. I'm just being realistic here...

Beyond that his idea isn't original or anything to begin with. Many other platforms (and not just mobile ones) have very similar solutions build-in as well. In 2007 or something I had an application just like it installed that would automatically synchronize my two Macs over wi-fi and/or network.

Edited by .Neo, Jun 9 2011, 9:59pm :

capr said,

look up how much a patent lawyer costs per hour.... we can't just screw everyone who can't afford them.

Yet that's what happens pretty much everywhere since the patenting system was invented: If you don't patent your ideas there's a good chance someone or some company will copy it. I'm just being realistic here...

His stupid fault for turning down a job at Apple.

He made almost made $500,000 dollars going by those numbers anyway so boo hoo.

_DP said,
His stupid fault for turning down a job at Apple.

He made almost made $500,000 dollars going by those numbers anyway so boo hoo.


Yup, he's real stupid for taking the initiative and wanting to be independent, instead of having to work for a company he has no stake in. How DARE he turn down a job from the great and mighty Apple! Lol.

Oh, and the classic "well he's making money so why should he be worried about completely legitimate copyright concerns" bs.

At least try to hide you blind fanboyism?

Seizure1990 said,

Yup, he's real stupid for taking the initiative and wanting to be independent, instead of having to work for a company he has no stake in. How DARE he turn down a job from the great and mighty Apple! Lol.

Oh, and the classic "well he's making money so why should he be worried about completely legitimate copyright concerns" bs.

At least try to hide you blind fanboyism?


Oh come on, the name is Wifi sync, a combination of the "protocol" and what is done over it...
The icon are in both cases a combination of the sync and wifi logos, come on...

I love how Apple goes after Samsung for copying their ideas, but aren't above going after developers' ideas to put into their own OS.

Apple should pay this guy bigtime.

Hercules said,
I love how Apple goes after Samsung for copying their ideas, but aren't above going after developers' ideas to put into their own OS.

Apple should pay this guy bigtime.

And so Samsung should pay Apple big time as well then? Or is it only when Apple copy?

Hercules said,
I love how Apple goes after Samsung for copying their ideas, but aren't above going after developers' ideas to put into their own OS.

Apple should pay this guy bigtime.


Well desiging phones and their UI to be lookalikes and creating a Wifi syncing is hardly the same.
The name is just what it does, there is nothing unique about the name, as for the icons, a combination of the sync and wifi logo forms a wifi sync logo...

Hercules said,
I love how Apple goes after Samsung for copying their ideas, but aren't above going after developers' ideas to put into their own OS.

Apple should pay this guy bigtime.


they offered him a job, and the pay would of been more than brilliant, he rejected it, his fault

badsey said,

they offered him a job, and the pay would of been more than brilliant, he rejected it, his fault

Considering he made 500k selling his app, I doubt the pay would have been "More then brilliant" they didn't want to pay out that kind of cash to him, they wanted to hire him on and make him do it for 5-6 months worth of pay then shove him onto some driver team or work him until he quit.

asdavis10 said,

You're American huh?

I certainly hope you're not insinuating that as an insult to him. Objects go by different names depending on where you live. Here, it's often called a résumé (or resume).

dead.cell said,

I certainly hope you're not insinuating that as an insult to him. Objects go by different names depending on where you live. Here, it's often called a résumé (or resume).

No insult but most Americans don't know what a CV is. But that is just based on my experience.

asdavis10 said,

No insult but most Americans don't know what a CV is. But that is just based on my experience.

I'm American and had no idea what CV was referring to.

tmaxxtigger said,
Looks like a combination of two existing icons already, but everyone loves to hate Apple.

Yes, poor Apple. Everyone is so mean to them, while they and their fans have been nothing but all nice and sweet like lollipops and unicorns to Apple's competitors.

nohone said,

Yes, poor Apple. Everyone is so mean to them, while they and their fans have been nothing but all nice and sweet like lollipops and unicorns to Apple's competitors.

*Fluffy* unicorns. Retard proof. You know, for the moments like: oooh what does this big horn do? I'll stick it into my eye! Mmm sooo soft...

nohone said,

Yes, poor Apple. Everyone is so mean to them, while they and their fans have been nothing but all nice and sweet like lollipops and unicorns to Apple's competitors.

Thanks for proving my point :-D

tmaxxtigger said,
Looks like a combination of two existing icons already, but everyone loves to hate Apple.

Indeed, I mean syncing logo + wifi logo = Wifi Sync logo, pretty darn obvious...

tmaxxtigger said,
Looks like a combination of two existing icons already, but everyone loves to hate Apple.

Maybe because Apple tries to sue other companies for using "App Store", which is also two generic terms just like WiFi Sync. I personally don't like hypocrites.

flexkeyboard said,
I'd would imagine MS going after Apple since WP7 has been doing this...but a student...ok

Because the concept of syncing over Wifi, an open "standard", is anything unique?
So only one manufacturer (whoever was first) should have been allowed to sync devices with a cable too?

hotdog963al said,
I don't understand why anyone would support a company that does things like this to it's developers.

Well the fact that wifi sync would come to the phone were always an inevitable fact. Also, a wifi sync app can't possibly full fill the appstore rules so... No way it would work as good as something built in to the OS either

hotdog963al said,
I don't understand why anyone would support a company that does things like this to it's developers.
Money, easy enough to understand...

hotdog963al said,
I don't understand why anyone would support a company that does things like this to it's developers.

they offed him a job that would of paid more , instead he rejected it... they did it without him he could of officially left his mark on iOS

badsey said,

they offed him a job that would of paid more , instead he rejected it... they did it without him he could of officially left his mark on iOS

Maybe he didn't want to leave his mark on iOS, instead he chose to make something like $500,000 from selling his App.

LordBattleBeard said,
Maybe he didn't want to leave his mark on iOS, instead he chose to make something like $500,000 from selling his App.

yeh i seen that, it was his choice, instead he thought he could do better off, and its not like apple only thought of it in the last year, he's obviously regretting turning them down

badsey said,

yeh i seen that, it was his choice, instead he thought he could do better off, and its not like apple only thought of it in the last year, he's obviously regretting turning them down

Or he just didn't want to work for apple? Some people don't want a restricting job (not saying that apple is any more restricting than anywhere else).

I don't doubt that there's some clause when submitting the app that says they can deny you but still use ideas from it. It's Apple after all.

Davo said,
I don't doubt that there's some clause when submitting the app that says they can deny you but still use ideas from it. It's Apple after all.

But it was rejected from the App Store and then put onto Cydia so I'm sure he may have a case..Wasn't that the reason they asked the MobileNotifier developer to work with them, so that they could implement new notification system with no trouble?

Xxgreatestever said,

But it was rejected from the App Store and then put onto Cydia so I'm sure he may have a case..Wasn't that the reason they asked the MobileNotifier developer to work with them, so that they could implement new notification system with no trouble?


It was rejected because it surely break appstore rules...
There has been wifi syncing before too so... Syncing devices over a wireless standard, is hardly unique... As for the name and icon well what else to call syncing over wifi than wifi sync? The icon is simply a combination of the wifi and sync icons... Is the name of Apples remote app also theft?

As for Hajas, well it might have been based on him having done a great "app" and apple wanted to hire him, but their notification systems are pretty different so hardly because of that, if it were they would have had to get whoever designed the android notifications too as they are more similar.
But they didn't need to do that either, because all the implementations are just list of notifications, showing data in lists has never and will never be something unique

Leonick said,

It was rejected because it surely break appstore rules...
There has been wifi syncing before too so... Syncing devices over a wireless standard, is hardly unique... As for the name and icon well what else to call syncing over wifi than wifi sync?

Yeah but if I took a logo and just changed the colors and still called it Wifi Sync isn't that still violating ones intellectual property on some level?

Xxgreatestever said,

Yeah but if I took a logo and just changed the colors and still called it Wifi Sync isn't that still violating ones intellectual property on some level?


I'd say it would, if the icon was trademarked (which it isn't in this case) and not based on common icons. Not only are the wifi and sync icons commons symbols, the sync symbol is used in iSync which came before his wifi sync (don't know if it's the first apperance of the sync logo), the wifi icon actually originates from apple and their airport brand of wifi interfaces.

Leonick said,

I'd say it would, if the icon was trademarked (which it isn't in this case) and not based on common icons. Not only are the wifi and sync icons commons symbols, the sync symbol is used in iSync which came before his wifi sync (don't know if it's the first apperance of the sync logo), the wifi icon actually originates from apple and their airport brand of wifi interfaces.

It's just dirty business practices.