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Apple removes blatant copycat apps from App Store

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Apple has removed from the App Store a number of copycat applications that closely mimicked the titles of successful games after they provoked a public outcry from developers over the issue.

Applications whose names and features piggybacked off of popular games such as Temple Run, Tiny Wings and Words with Friends were taken down on Friday, as noted by TechCrunch.

The fraudulent apps were largely the work of developer Anton Sinelnikov. As of early Saturday, Sinelnikov had nine applications available in the App Store, including some that still appeared to be ripoffs of other apps.

The Guardian brought the issue more into the public spotlight on Friday with a profile on the developer and his "misleading apps." Sinelnikov, however, is not alone in his efforts, as dozens of other applications from other developers have attempted to dishonestly capitalize on the successes of others.

Calls for Apple to take down the offending apps were made by numerous developers and users alike on Twitter earlier this week. Keith Shepherd, the creator of Temple Run, noted on his account that an app like Temple Jump "taints the integrity of the App Store." After Apple pulled the app, Shepherd posted that he was "thankful."




Apple has dealt with this issue before and has even faced criticism for being overly proactive in removing apps that are perceived as knock-offs. Last month, one developer accused game maker Atari of leveraging a "special relationship" with Apple to have as many as "hundreds" of applications resembling its own games taken down.

Google's Android platform also faces similar problems, especially given the lack of an official review process on the official Android Market. The open nature of Android has even led to criticism by some content owners, developers and security firms over potential copyright infringement and malware concerns. The Mountain View, Calif., company recently revealed that it has begun employing a malware detector, but some security researchers wanted to see more from the company and continued to call for increased supervision on the platform.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 39
Words with Friends is essentially a direct copy of Scrabble... if I were EA or Hasbro, I would be pissed.

I heard of a small developer developing a tower game, with "bitizens" as the people living there... then Zynga came out with "Tiny Tower" with "Zitizens".

One of the worst offenders is one of the "big guys" with the most sales.
post #3 of 39
So Apple will remove all Apps published by Zynga then?
post #4 of 39
All i can say is, at least apple has quality control & does screen apps for the most part, the android market wouldn't make any effort close to this or remove anything... so developers shouldn't bitch :P
this is a positive step tho
post #5 of 39
In Android Market this is easy. Download, disassemble, repackage, and submit.
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post #6 of 39
Apple please defend Tiny Towers from copycat Zynga

http://www.cultofmac.com/142552/zyng...e-of-the-year/
post #7 of 39
What about the Mac App Store, it is a lot smaller so should be easier to clean up. It has many apps that duplicate functionality already in the OS, and charge people for it! Some examples:

- ISO-Burn Pro, isoBurn, ISO-Burn Disc, Make ISO, ISO Create - all these are existing features of Disk Utility. Someone has made a quick and dirty GUI in Interface builder and behind the scenes just farmed the work off to the Apple program.

- unZip, unZipper - these programs have no GUI except a progress bar. They do nothing more than the OS already does when you double click on a zip file. They are depending on people not knowing that OS X can already unpack a zip file. Some utilities such as Entropy and BetterZip are a different story - they are far more fully featured than what the OS has, and are a good buy.

- Screen Record Pro, Screen Recorder Std, iScreenRecorder, etc - Quicktime can do screen recording from the file menu.

- Locker, Lock Screen, etc. - this feature is available in KeyChain Preferences.

- Games: Are some of the big name games from Aspyr and Feral using activation systems? The App Store guidelines clearly state that app store copy protection is the only protection allowed, and that once purchased, apps are allowed to be installed on an unlimited number of Macs.
post #8 of 39
As usual Apple will only get the small and independent developers. Zynga and Gameloft will keep bringing out their clones because money talks and bovine excrement walks. I would be the first to agree that blatant copies shouldn't be allowed but the Apple police's heavy handed approach and obvious favouritism in the long term will hurt them. Many developers have started out by making clones of existing games after which they could fund better and more original projects. If apps with even a "passing resemblance" are booted of the app store without so much as a chance to defend themselves, starting developers will choose alternatives like Cydia or the Android platform. In the end it won't matter anyway because HTML5 will free developers from the iron grip of the Church of Apple.
post #9 of 39
Jesus fscking Christ, how many more clueless people will misunderstand what Steve said

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post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

What about the Mac App Store, it is a lot smaller so should be easier to clean up. It has many apps that duplicate functionality already in the OS, and charge people for it! Some examples:.

you sir have pondered this deeply, i am impressed
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post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple has dealt with this issue before and has even faced criticism for being overly proactive in removing apps that are perceived as knock-offs.]

I think this is the reason why Apple has become a little slower to remove apps. They did it the moment someone screamed foul and they got slammed for it by folks saying no it wasn't a copy at all and expect a lawsuit. So now they are perhaps looking closer at the two items in question (the real and the alleged copy) before yanking.

Plus given the amount of apps they are dealing with and the amount of emails etc they are likely getting it might be a couple of days before they get through the horde of messages to yours that you sent today about the app you say is a rip off just to know the situation.

Major names like Atari probably do have a special relationship in that they are so major and so often copied that they could have a particular person and email they can send messages to that is separate from the horde and thus those copies are found out and yanked faster. As for that particular guy, he basically said that he tried to license the game from Atari and they wouldn't call him back so he did it anyway, so he knew he was 'stealing'. So yeah, its getting yanked.
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Singapura View Post

Zynga and Gameloft will keep bringing out their clones

Are they really clones in the sense of 99% identical art, game play etc. Or just the same idea (match 3 gems, run a farm etc).

The former is copyright violation, the latter is not. And many of the games pulled for the former were so identical that even huge chunks of the code were the same. I think you would agree that that is definitely bad
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Are they really clones in the sense of 99% identical art, game play etc. Or just the same idea (match 3 gems, run a farm etc).

The former is copyright violation, the latter is not. And many of the games pulled for the former were so identical that even huge chunks of the code were the same. I think you would agree that that is definitely bad

If Android is a clone of iOS then yes they are clones.
post #14 of 39
Good to see.

There's one called Mole Kart, shameless rip off.

Some of Gameloft's titles, such as NOVA are treading a really thin line. Obviously 'inspired' by certain console games.
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by t2000tjt View Post

Words with Friends is essentially a direct copy of Scrabble... if I were EA or Hasbro, I would be pissed.

I heard of a small developer developing a tower game, with "bitizens" as the people living there... then Zynga came out with "Tiny Tower" with "Zitizens".

One of the worst offenders is one of the "big guys" with the most sales.

You need to get your facts straight. Sure, Hasbro is probably pissed at Zynga but it's not because they are stealing anything, instead it would be because Zynga is more popular, but that would be petty.

WwF is does not copy the board layout, does not copy the rules, does not copy the number of tiles, does not compare itself to Scrabble, and does not use their name. This is why they are in the the clear and why Srabbulous had to alter pretty much everything about itself before coming back as Lexulous.

If you want to argue that the 15x15 grid with letter on them is theirs outright then you'll need to show that Hasbro still ha a valid patent on the base design from 60 years and that prior art doesn't affect it. I'm guessing that Hasbro has no case or they would have gone after Zynga the way they went after Scrabbulous.

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post #16 of 39
Sometimes it is hard to find an original game in the sea of clones with page after page being crappier and crappier versions of the same game(s). Apple is happy to have clones as it clearly increases their total number of available apps as well as their bottom line.

As much as I love playing games on my iOS devices, I have stopped surfing the sea of clutter and clones for some time now and play the ones I have over again.

Is it really Apple's job to police game cloning, or is it up to the game developers to sue the copycats for infringing on their ideas? Someone needs to sue Apple for allowing their store to sell ripoffs of their games (and profit from it) forcing Apple and the developers to have proper TOS. This is no different from music in iTunes...you can't record a copy of a new Madonna song and release it on iTunes for sale, so why are gamers allowed to do it. Gamers need their own version of RIAA, maybe a GIAA?
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post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskymac View Post

Jesus fscking Christ, how many more clueless people will misunderstand what Steve said

I wouldn't worry about educating some random clueless poster. It's the Internet. There's bound to be more of them. And if you add them all up, they'll collectively never measure up to one Steve Jobs.

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post #18 of 39
I wish, it were a reality to have half a million 'unique' things than could be done on an i device! In the game of the numbers and power, it would always be a dilemma when having to chose between the developers to punish (like Zynga vs others) and boasting the numbers vs accepting how many redundant apps are present there that just are 'inspired' by other apps.
point to note here, I'm no way comparing Andriod Marketplace, as the apps I found there are no where near professional level! I'm just trying to compare 'Apple' to 'Apple'
post #19 of 39
The number of tiles is the same, the board layout differences are the colors and locations of the bonus squares (which offer the same bonuses as scrabble). The rules are exactly the same....

The only thing I can say is, they don't call it "Scrabble"


Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

You need to get your facts straight. Sure, Hasbro is probably pissed at Zynga but it's not because they are stealing anything, instead it would be because Zynga is more popular, but that would be petty.

WwF is does not copy the board layout, does not copy the rules, does not copy the number of tiles, does not compare itself to Scrabble, and does not use their name. This is why they are in the the clear and why Srabbulous had to alter pretty much everything about itself before coming back as Lexulous.

If you want to argue that the 15x15 grid with letter on them is theirs outright then you'll need to show that Hasbro still ha a valid patent on the base design from 60 years and that prior art doesn't affect it. I'm guessing that Hasbro has no case or they would have gone after Zynga the way they went after Scrabbulous.
post #20 of 39
Steve wasn't advocating copying in that clip, he was talking about the difference between copying and making something your own ("stealing").

Note he says "Try to bring those things in to what *you're* doing." That presupposes you already have an idea you're working on.

And he talks about art, music, history, zoology - so he's clearly talking about taking bits and pieces from all over the place and integrating them in to something new, not copying 1 entire existing product in it's entirety.

It's actually a deep philosophical point that Picasso was making. Namely: there is no "nothing" in the universe, everything is something. There is no "void" from whence new things spring. Therefore creativity must logically be about taking things that are already there (whether that's objects on the macro level, atoms on the micro level, or ideas in your mind) and re-arranging them in to a new combination. Creativity is not some kind of ex-nihlio act, it is an act of inspired rearranging.
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by t2000tjt View Post

The number of tiles is the same, the board layout differences are the colors and locations of the bonus squares (which offer the same bonuses as scrabble). The rules are exactly the same....

The only thing I can say is, they don't call it "Scrabble"

I've pointed out how it's different. The rules are not exactly the same. If you can show me where a 15x15 board is patent violation I'm all ears*.


* It's a figure of speech, obviously I'll be all eyes in this medium.

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post #22 of 39
I suggest that the better way to handle knock-offs is to focus on "Store Shelves."
Whatever the categories -- keep the 50 Essentials on a Shelf. As something better comes along, it should get replaced. These shouldn't necessarily be the highest rated -- but should be more like an Editor's pick, where some thought goes into the quality and utility of the app. You walk into a Grocery store or a Hardware store and it's the same thing; the only have so much shelf space, so they don't shovel in everything from a flea market.

In the virtual world, the bargain bin and the flea market can be unlimited -- no harm done. But like Google's "ad words" or someone gaming the SEO rankings; that first screen when you search is the most important. People only have so much they can look at.

Apple already does this so some degree with their "Editor's picks" ratings system, and Top 50. Top 50 is some combination of "new" and "popular" and likely with a nod to the big players.

But what we really need is a "What's Related?" screen in these cases with apps that are close to what we are looking at. So the Knock-off would be there if we clicked on it, and so also would be it's target. When I shop at Amazon or look at a video on Netflix, there's always that "People who bought this also liked THESE." So the knock-off Bottle Pop can be seen next to Bottle Blow, and someone can see them by rating and popularity.

>> Still, there are some blatant knockoffs -- which might require a case-by-case removal -- but Apple should err on the side of "promote the good" rather than "kill the bad." Knock-offs are a way that developers can become more experienced, and they reduce costs to end users.


>> I'd much prefer Apple ADD the ability to "forget this app" as I seem to be committed to upgrading every dang App I've ever tried or downloaded forever, regardless of how lame it was, or if it's just old and abandoned.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I've pointed out how it's different. The rules are not exactly the same. If you can show me where a 15x15 board is patent violation I'm all ears*.


* It's a figure of speech, obviously I'll be all eyes in this medium.

I don't like either one of them, because you can look up words before you place the tiles, or it tells you that a word is invalid (and you can play a different word). There should be a point penalty for placing a made-up word on the board or for exiting the game during play. OK, make these game options that both players would have to live by. Otherwise, neither game is worth a sou, IMO. I still have my original S&R Scrabble from the mid-50s, anyway.

Yes. I AM an old guy.
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMacGuy View Post

I don't like either one of them, because you can look up words before you place the tiles, or it tells you that a word is invalid (and you can play a different word). There should be a point penalty for placing a made-up word on the board or for exiting the game during play. OK, make these game options that both players would have to live by. Otherwise, neither game is worth a sou, IMO. I still have my original S&R Scrabble from the mid-50s, anyway.

There are many things I don't like about WwF that I would love to change and hopefully I'll be able to code well enough one day to create my own game.

Scrabbulous/Lexicous had the ability to play a game with any word you choose and have the opponent challenge that word. I didn't like that! It meant that any unknown word was challenged but with WwF I tend to find a word by accident and then look up and (try to) memorize the definition and etymology. I can say I've added more to my lexicon that way than with Scrabble's challenge method.

I do think the unlimited place and submit feature is excessive but there is no way to stop people from looking up words outside the game. You should always play the game to the best of your ability, trying to excel with each placement, not worrying about what the other opponent scores. The design is excellent for this type of dual-solitaire game. For example, if I beat an opponent who only gets 200 points to my 220 points then I wouldn't consider that a victory because my goal is currently 400 points per game.

I have memorized all 104 2 letter words used by the ENABLE word list in WwF and I'm working on figuring out a strategy of when one should use change tiles instead of placing a low point value word. I'm a little obsessed with the game.

edit: Some pro tips:
  • Playing multiple 2-letter words per round not only increases your score in an offensvie manuevure but also works to defensively prevent opponnents from building off your word extentions.
  • There are no 2-letter words that use the letters C or V.
  • The letters J, Q and Z can only make the 2-letter words JO, QI and ZA so those letters can't be placed at the end of a 2-letter word.
  • The words SH, HM, and MM are the only all consonent 2-letter words. These are easy to remember because they only use 3 different letters in all.

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post #25 of 39
Maybe Apple should worry less about copycat apps and more about crashing apps?



http://mashable.com/2012/02/04/ios-a...-than-android/
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Maybe Apple should worry less about copycat apps and more about crashing apps?

You're not even trying to hide the fact that you're ConradJoe, are you?

How the frick is it Apple's fault that developers aren't testing their stuff?!

They even say that in the linked article. For heaven's sake.

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post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

You're not even trying to hide the fact that you're ConradJoe, are you?

How the frick is it Apple's fault that developers aren't testing their stuff?!

They even say that in the linked article. For heaven's sake.

Hey, the worst offenders for crashing on my iPad are Safari and the AppStore App. On my iPad 1 iOS 5.01 is far less responsive, mirroring many of the complaints of early Adroid phones and tablets, and far less stable. For a good notification system and a couple of extra gestures the experience has been far from satisfactory.

So no, it's not the fault of the developers. Apple needs to improve iOS 5. That said, I'm sure they will.

However, well done Apple for going after the copycats. Hundreds of thousands of Apps is pretty confusing when trying to support the original developers over the copycats.
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Maybe Apple should worry less about copycat apps and more about crashing apps?

The crash typically from applications created by programmers migrated from Android because they don't know basic memory allocation in C.
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post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuwafuwa View Post

The crash typically from applications created by programmers migrated from Android because they don't know basic memory allocation in C.

I thought Xcode 4 (for iOS 5.0) keeps the need for memory allocation out of the hands of developers.

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post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Are they really clones in the sense of 99% identical art, game play etc. Or just the same idea (match 3 gems, run a farm etc).

The former is copyright violation, the latter is not. And many of the games pulled for the former were so identical that even huge chunks of the code were the same. I think you would agree that that is definitely bad

Some of Gameloft's games are *really* close the game they are cloning. While none of the actual art is stolen pixel for pixel, it's so clearly 'inspired' there can be absolutely no doubt.

Zynga go even further. The recent Tiny Tower debacle shows that.

Apple should remove pretty much everything by Zynga and Gameloft.
post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

You need to get your facts straight. Sure, Hasbro is probably pissed at Zynga but it's not because they are stealing anything, instead it would be because Zynga is more popular, but that would be petty.

WwF is does not copy the board layout, does not copy the rules, does not copy the number of tiles, does not compare itself to Scrabble, and does not use their name. This is why they are in the the clear and why Srabbulous had to alter pretty much everything about itself before coming back as Lexulous.

If you want to argue that the 15x15 grid with letter on them is theirs outright then you'll need to show that Hasbro still ha a valid patent on the base design from 60 years and that prior art doesn't affect it. I'm guessing that Hasbro has no case or they would have gone after Zynga the way they went after Scrabbulous.

Lol I never wanna hear anyone who agrees with this ever claim "Android is a clone of iOS" again
post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post

Lol I never wanna hear anyone who agrees with this ever claim "Android is a clone of iOS" again

If Words with Friends came out as a board game that was nearly identical to Scrabble a year after it was released then Hasbro would have a case.

If Words with Friends tried to make the design of the packing look so similar that it would confuse customers that didn't know to look at specific details like the manufacturer name then Hasbro would have a case, just like with Apple against Samsung.

If Words with Friends copied everything verbatim from Scrabble like Scrabbulous did then Hasbro would have a case against Zynga.

There are many HW and SW aspects from Android-based vendors that do appear to cross the line. There might even be direct code copied from Apple and/or Oracle by google for Android OS. That is copyright infringement. You need to read and understand the facts before you spout your generalized, subjective anti-Apple rhetoric. We know you hate Apple for being successful, it's strange but it is your choice, but at least try to be a little objective when you post so you don't come across as a complete arse.

PS: You go ahead and mimic aspects of iOS UI from 2007 in the year 2070 and let us know how Apple responds.

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post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

If Words with Friends came out as a board game that was nearly identical to Scrabble a year after it was released then Hasbro would have a case.

If Words with Friends tried to make the design of the packing look so similar that it would confuse customers that didn't know to look at specific details like the manufacturer name then Hasbro would have a case, just like with Apple against Samsung.

If Words with Friends copied everything verbatim from Scrabble like Scrabbulous did then Hasbro would have a case against Zynga.

There are many HW and SW aspects from Android-based vendors that do appear to cross the line. There might even be direct code copied from Apple and/or Oracle by google for Android OS. That is copyright infringement. You need to read and understand the facts before you spout your generalized, subjective anti-Apple rhetoric. We know you hate Apple for being successful, it's strange but it is your choice, but at least try to be a little objective when you post so you don't come across as a complete arse.

PS: You go ahead and mimic aspects of iOS UI from 2007 in the year 2070 and let us know how Apple responds.

Touchwhiz =\\= Android.

Try again.

Also find where I am seen hating Apple. At all. In any of my posts. Or stfu.

I'm inclined to think you're full of shit.

Also there is no direct code from Apple in Android. Apple would know. Android is Open Source.

Oracle remains to be seen.

Point is people attack Android for going from a "bb clone to an iOS clone" visually.

Based on your post that I quoted this is simply not true.
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post

Touchwhiz =\\= Android.

Try again.

If you're going to post at least stay on the point to the person you are responding to. No where in my comment did I equate Touchwiz to Android. In fact, I clearly and deliberately stated, "There are many HW and SW aspects from Android-based vendors that do appear to cross the line."

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post #35 of 39
A malware detector???? This alone is why I'm glad to have iOS.
post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

If you're going to post at least stay on the point to the person you are responding to. No where in my comment did I equate Touchwiz to Android. In fact, I clearly and deliberately stated, "There are many HW and SW aspects from Android-based vendors that do appear to cross the line."

Point is none of those = Android.

You'll find no argument from me that Samsung needs to be stopped, though.

Samsung =\\= Android
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I thought Xcode 4 (for iOS 5.0) keeps the need for memory allocation out of the hands of developers.

optionally.
post #38 of 39
Not sure why people or develops though selling their product in the App Store would be any different than walking down the streets of NYC or any large city for that fact. There are so many people who are more than willing to make their living off copying and selling the ideas of others.

It is the consumers faults, if they did not support these blatant knock off both in software as well as material goods then these people would go away and die.

We all live in a society of people who do not want to pay, and they feel they are entitle to have all the nice things others have even though they refuse to work or earn it.

We are all just seeing the net results of consumer not caring and the government and companies not caring. Face the government has not vested interest in stopping the counterfeiting, why because the people selling the stuff turn around and spend their money at other stores and service since they can not life in their counterfeit product nor eat them.

So expect nothing less from Apple they make money whether you by the original or the knock off, it is not a lost to them.
post #39 of 39
Speaking of Words with Friends, Hasbro licensed the rights to "toys" based on Zynga games.
It would be funny if Hasbro made a Words with Friends board game. Why is that funny? Because Hasbro makes Scrabble.

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Goodbyeee jragosta :: http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/160864/jragosta-joseph-michael-ragosta

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