Today, I am going to talk about Apple, Appigo, iTunes, iOS devices and recent events. If you don’t know who Appigo is, don’t worry, I’ll fill you in later down this post. I’ve talked at length about technology, but not my personal experiences and my thoughts on the products that I use on a daily basis. With the exception of my musings on iOS gaming, which I scathingly called out developers for being a greedy lot, I hadn’t planned on talking about Apple and iOS for a while longer. But recent news has forced my hand. Mostly because my mind won’t quit thinking about it. And that’s what my blog is for, thinking out loud. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about what is on my mind.
The very name brings about many images to peoples’ minds. To some, it is the devil incarnate, to others it is a land of beauty, simplicity & quality. To some, its a fruit. What can I say, people have a lot of different perceptions. To me, Apple has produced many products that I have enjoyed over the years. From iTunes to iPods to iPads, their mobile products have usually been fun to use. I even considered one day getting a Mac. And being one of the main companies I use, I keep a close eye on their activities.
I consider myself a person of principles and that everything I do reflects on the type of person that I am. This personal code of conduct also has to apply to the companies I support and buy from. I’ve had to ignore Apple’s dirty dealings because they hadn’t been doing anything worse than what other tech companies did to each other. Not to say that the majority is always right, but with a broken trademark and copyright system, well, you have to accept that everyone is going to do what they feel they need to in order to protect their products and I understand that. But, there are limits to what a company is allowed and stepping over that line is unacceptable to me.
So when I hear things like this article about Apple threatening retailers to pull Samsung Galaxy devices or else, well it goes too far. Apple’s attitude was to be as hostile as possible to get these products off the shelves. Why? I can only guess is that Apple feels threatened by Samsung or that they have an over-inflated sense of worth. Wouldn’t be the first time a company did. This is not right that Apple can even attempt to enforce this ruling, it isn’t within their authority to do so. Not to mention, most of the reasons that Apple is suing Samsung is questionable at best. Apple’s attacks against Android have been getting further and further out of hand. And I can’t but be reminded that by buying these products that I am supporting this kind of hostile behavior from them. Suffice it to say, the suing have begun to wear on me.
Funny thing was, I was going to talk about Appigo in its own musing post this past weekend, but I decided to drop it for various reasons. Now, I bring them front and center because actions like these are difficult to ignore and is made worse by the fact that these guys are just a small team of people, who should behave better. Appigo is an iOS app development team who make productivity type apps for iPhones, iPads and Macs. Their apps are generally in the middle of simplicity and complexity of look and features. Their apps also feature multiple ways of syncing data between them and a pretty good amount of support via updates.
I use Appigo’s Todo task management program to get things done. I first got it on my iPod touch several years ago and it has since helped get me through college and everything else. It has been a great product to use and while I still don’t quite get everything done, it has helped more than making a calendar or keeping notes ever has for me. The app has been rock solid and is usually enjoyable to open and look through what needs to be done. So suffice it to say, I am very happy that the product has helped me out as it has.
So it angers me to read this article: by the Android Police website. The tl;dr is: Appigo is threatening an Android app dev for using the word “ToDo” in his app’s name. This is because they have a trademark on the word (and product), Todo. What kills me is that the trademark, I think, doesn’t cover ToDo, with the D capitalized. Yeah, there is a difference. At least, that’s what I gather. But, I did further digging into whether Appigo did this sort of bullying more often and it seems they have. Many times, even on the iOS App Store.
See, I can ignore Apple suing other companies because it is simply the name of the game that big businesses sue the crap out of each other. If I divorced myself from each and every single company that sued another company with a stupid lawsuit, I might as well chuck my computer out the window, along with a bunch of products I buy regularly. It is an inescapable issue, considering our broken patent & trademark system right now. But for smaller app developers to do the same treatment to others? Inexcusable. Honestly, the trademark really shouldn’t have been allowed as Todo is way too close to ToDo and To-Do and it is very unlikely people would get the difference. Then again, we get into the same problem as Apple since that name is trademarked as well. But ultimately, it feels insulting to me as a consumer that Appigo believes we can’t tell the difference apart from their app and a Star-Trek inspired app. (Which that app won’t likely be around long as it is violating copyright, but that is not the point of this post).
So now I am faced with a problem, in that a developer I have supported in the past is violating one of my rules, that of bullying others with ridiculous trademarks/patents. It is true that Appigo has yet to actually sue anyone, but it is the mere fact that they are willing to over such a small little thing that greatly annoys me. There is protecting your creations and then there is being overzealous. I’d also like to point out that Appigo’s products do not exist on Android. I guess it would be one thing if this app developer was deliberately trying to copy and use Appigo’s trademark but as far as I can tell, they weren’t.
It has been announced today that YouTube will be removed as a base app from iOS. I had worried that Apple might remove YouTube from the base OS after Apple Maps had been announced as the next major upgrade. These days, it is really hard to consider iOS 6 much of an upgrade. Apple Maps is an untested and likely inaccurate mapping system from a company that has shown no interest in mapping technologies before. Google, on the other hand, has a lot of experience with this kind of thing and have a ton of data to back it up. Plus, Apple Maps won’t even attempt to have bus data or street-views. Two major features in my current maps app, being cut out in this “upgrade”. And then there is the fact that neither my iPad or iPhone will have turn-by-turn navigation even in iOS6. So, it isn’t hard to figure out why I might not consider this an upgrade. Oh and the 3D map and looking feature that Apple Maps is showing off? Already provided by GMaps, or soon will be. Apple could have saved themselves a lot of time and effort by letting someone else do it. But they didn’t and now we are stuck with this app. Just so Google can’t get that data or something.
I won’t deny that the YouTube app is a subpar experience on iOS. It hasn’t really been updated since the iPad was released and it also got like/dislikes instead of star ratings in the app. (Remember that? Man I feel old). But just removing the app is a feature loss. There are no two ways about it, we are losing a rather significant feature of the OS. That is not my definition of an upgrade. All that’s left in the feature list of iOS6 is Facebook integration, Siri improvements and a few other odds and ends that only slightly improve the OS. Why couldn’t Apple just join forces with Google and make two really great apps? Nothing is really stoppping them, except for this STUPID and POINTLESS technology war between the two companies. All the fanboyism, all the stabs at each other, its just headdesking painful! Let’s not forget, it wasn’t but a few years ago that Google and Apple were shaking hands and being friendly with each other. The amount of Google integration was quite deep in the early iPhones and now, it almost doesn’t exist.
Yes, I am know this is how competition goes at times. That doesn’t mean I can’t complain about how it hurts me, the consumer, at the end of the day. Last I checked, upgrades were supposed to improve and enhance the experience of software. Yet all the “big” features of iOS 6 are downgrades and I can’t help but think I won’t be upgrading to this iOS version. Especially if I’m losing Google Maps, an app I use quite often. Getting a map with less accurate data, simply because Apple and Google are having a spat right now, just rubs me the wrong way. It is hard for me to see any reason to upgrade my current devices to this OS.
On a side note. Lately, I’ve been getting burned by most of the developers on iOS. Whether it is due to freemium business models, forced paid-upgrades or lack of support, my experience with apps on the App Store has been going down. My purchases have stopped in the past six months and even ignoring that my finances haven’t been spectacular, there isn’t anything I want to buy. I can’t trust apps anymore because it seems like every app developer out there wants to squeeze every last penny out of me for a dodgy product. Without the ability to test these apps before hand, it is made me extremely cautious to buy anything anymore. That is not a state the App Store should want me to be in, really cautious.
I find myself in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, Apple as a product and service has been fair with me and while the restrictions are annoying, I went into iOS knowing full well of what I was getting into. So I don’t begrudge it because the experience has been mostly solid. On the other hand though, I am a person who claims to stand by his ethics. So this means I have to stick to what I believe to be right. Even if that decision is an uncomfortable and unhappy one in the short run.
I now have to decide whether Apple has gone too far. And I can’t help but feel they have. Apple has no authority to enforce the rulings of the court. And I hope that we never get to that point either. It is not the system that I live under. Appigo bullying other developers like they have is in bad form and they should be ashamed for using their trademark like they have. And one of the main reasons I was sticking it out on the iOS platform was for the apps and now even that has gone by the wayside. I can’t even trust developers on iOS anymore. The gold rush that I thought would bring out some really great creations has instead caused greed to take over. Go figure, it is almost as if this has happened before. Now with both Apple and developers like Appigo bullying each other and those around them, it is impossible to ignore these actions. Having not gotten a Mac, I feel like I dodged a bullet. Especially with the latest trends from Apple being to lock down that system in every way possible. What happens to iOS…well, I think that not upgrading is likely the route I’m going to go and then look at what my options are…
I won’t do anything overnight, that’s just crazy. But I am faced with the prospect of changing my entire workflow and how I get things done as well as changing what devices I own and so many other things. I got used to how Apple did things so changing to something different will probably be an odd experience. What I’m going to miss most is if I decide to cut off Appigo’s Todo. Finding a replacement app that works for me as well as Todo has, will not be easy. But who knows, maybe I’ll find something that works better…
Thoughts? Opinions? Leave a comment and like this post if you got something out of reading this musing from my mind.
And until next time…