Earlier this week at Apple’s WWDC keynote presentation, the company unveiled a variety of “cord-cutting” new features, and one of these features was called “Wi-Fi Sync.” With Wi-Fi Sync, users can – you guessed it – sync their mobile device wirelessly when connected to a Wi-Fi network. However, the jailbreak fans out there will be aware that this isn’t exactly revolutionary – in fact, it has been done before, and an app (also called “Wi-Fi Sync” and bearing a very similar icon) has been available in the Cydia Store for over a year now. Unsurprisingly, the developer of Wi-Fi Sync isn’t exactly excited for the release of iOS 5.
The jailbreak application is developed by Greg Hughes, a college student at the University of Birmingham (in the United Kingdom). In an interview with The Register, Hughes outlined his surprise at seeing Apple’s Wi-Fi Sync feature appear on the company’s website, following its keynote presentation. Apple’s wireless syncing solution not only had the same name as Hughes’, but the two also had a very similar icon, as you can see in the comparison below:
To add insult to injury, Hughes knew that Apple was aware of his application – before making Wi-Fi Sync available in Cydia, Hughes had submitted the application to Apple and it had been rejected. Furthermore, an Apple representative had contacted Hughes to congratulate him on his achievement (Apple was “very impressed,” and even asked to see Hughes’ C.V.). Apple also explained the reason behind the application’s rejection – which was “unspecified security concerns,” according to The Register.
After Apple rejected the application, it appeared in Cydia for $9.99 and proved to be extremely popular (we even listed it as part of our “Why Jailbreak” series). Obviously, the app has made Hughes a fair amount of cash, though nowhere near as much as it would have if Apple had approved the application and made it available in the App Store.
Apple’s decision to use the name and icon of Hughes’ application has left him “fairly shocked.” He added: “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.”
The changes made in iOS 5 appear to be an attempt to combat jailbreaking. Not only is Apple releasing its own wireless sync feature, but it’s also greatly improving its notification system – something that had previously pushed many iPhone owners towards Cydia, in search of packages like MobileNotifier. However, instead of “pilfering” a new notification system from MobileNotifier, Apple instead hired its developer, giving him a job at Cupterino, CA. It would appear that, having asked to see Hughes’ C.V., the company may have had a similar idea in mind for the Wi-Fi Sync developer. However, this didn’t happen.
While nobody can be sure if Apple took all that much notice of Wi-Fi Sync originally, we do know that the company hates imitation, and is happy to sue for what it believes in. However, as The Register concludes, in this kind of landscape the power resides with the Goliaths: “The Davids, it seems, don’t stand a chance.”