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Did Apple Steal a College Kid's Wi-Fi Sync App?

That new Wi-Fi sync in iOS 5 may have come from a Cydia developer.

Wireless syncing between both the iPhone and iPad and the program iTunes (on PCs) is finally rolling out to iDevices as part of the new iOS 5. Users will now be able to sync their iTunes libraries with their iDevice using a shared Wi-Fi network--no cord necessary. But this new iOS features is curiously similar to an old Cydia app by the name of Wi-Fi Sync. So similar, in fact, that one college student and Cydia app developer thinks Apple ripped off his app--name, icon, and all.

Sure, wireless syncing isn't a unique idea, nor is it new (it's just new to Apple devices)--so it's not necessarily true that Apple stole some poor student's idea. But that doesn't mean they didn't rip off the name and logo of said student's application.

In May 2010, University of Birmingham student Greg Hughes submitted his app "Wi-Fi Sync" to Apple's App Store. The app was rejected from Apple's App Store because of "unspecified security concerns." Hughes told The Register that an iPhone developer relations representative named Steve Rea called him to say the app was admirable, but did things not specified in the official iPhone software developers' kit.

Hughes told The Register that Rea said the iPhone engineering team had taken a look at the app and was "impressed," and that Apple even asked for Hughes' resume. But yeah, the app was still rejected.

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Hughes accepted the rejection and took his app to the unofficial, jailbroken app store--Cydia. There his app became a best seller, and has sold more than 50,000 copies in the past 13 months, at $10 a piece.

Anyway, imagine Hughes' surprise when he saw Apple's WWDC announcement about its new wireless syncing feature. Not only is the name and functionality the same (and, to be fair, "Wi-Fi Sync" isn't exactly clever), but the logo looks almost exactly the same. It appears to have been reworked ever-so-slightly to match Apple's latest slew of feature icons, but that's it.

Yeah, it's not reasonable to expect Apple to ignore wireless syncing altogether, but that icon is pretty damning. What do you think--do you believe Hughes, or Apple?

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