Apple is accused of silencing children after its App Store pulled an iPad speech synthesiser that gave mute youngsters a voice. Touchscreen-controlled software Speak For Yourself allowed kids with speech problems to use a picture-based on-screen keyboard to string words into sentences, which were then spoken by their iThing. In …
Re: What's wrong Apple?
I'm not so sure ANN. Apple don't give a fuck about the 'little people' because they don't need to. They have legions of fanboi apologists prepared to justify any low move they make, and any bad publicity that they do receive will only last until they release the next bit of shiny. It then immediately gets forgotten by the fawning press.
Removing the emotional aspect of helping kids in trouble, this story doesn't really detail what this issue is - it could be that this version is a blatant copy of the more expensive version and therefore has rightly been pulled by Apple...
A lack of detail in the report, it's hard to work out exactly what's going on. Could it be that since Apple takes a slice of the payment, they're also culpable, so have removed it whilst the court case is ongoing?
Obviously putting apple in the title gives something more attention but the real problem is the company suing. So what if apple didn't remove it. It would get removed soon afterwards anyway or the guy wins and as it is he can put it back on the app store.
It's all well and good to mention android or foss alternatives but those aren't invincible to software patents. So yeah kids could switch but they may end up butt hurt again.
The root of the problem is software patents in general.
The custom made device cost a couple of thousand if I remember. The app was much cheaper but was still a couple of hundred for what is little more than a customisable soundboard with tts capabilities.
They could have/should have charged a lot less for what it was.
In the Apple world Court they have already assessed the patents and provided their ruling
Yet again apple oversteps its mandate, unless they get a court order to remove it why are they taking sides?
If Apple didn't cave they would also end up being sued as a distributor. Now think what would happen if they had to defend themselves in court for every IP issue raised by the over 500.000 apps in the store? Obviously that's not an option.
Apple are just covering their ass. If the litigation is successful they don't want to be sued for distributing the App(tm).
It's a real shame that there is no exclusion from patent for things which so dramatically enhance peoples' quality of life. You'll never get that because the Pharmaceutical companies (and others) can afford to out lobby you.
Here's a quote from someone you should have reached Ms Leach, the suing company, not Apple..
"PRC and the licensor of the Unity™ system that powers our language devices jointly filed the lawsuit after our patent attorney found numerous instances of infringement on Unity patents in the “Speak for Yourself” app. Apple has a process that allows third parties to provide notice of infringement concerns as part of its terms and conditions. Accordingly, we reached out to Apple on two occasions. We provided Apple with a copy of the lawsuit, expressing our concerns about the “Speak for Yourself” app. We then responded to a later request from Apple asking for an update on the lawsuit. Last week, Apple elected to remove the app."
When this story first aired
I commented that the proliferation of smartphones, tablets along with the powerful combination of the FOSS community will jepardise *any* product which can be boiled down to something whose functionality could be replicated by them. There are quite a few patented devices which are essentially ruggedized smartphones.
In a way, I'm pleased this is a story, because it highlights how companies gouge people with disablities, because they think "the NHS will pay" (in the UK) or "the insurance company will pay" US. Check out the price of adaptations and aids, if you don't believe me.
"We have pressed Apple for a comment, but have as yet received no reply."
There is a typo. It should read
"We have pressed Apple for a comment, but are yet to receive no reply."
Re: "We have pressed Apple for a comment, but have as yet received no reply."
No. This should be "We have pressed Apple for a comment, but it turned into cider" - well after a little fermentation.
Re: "We have pressed Apple for a comment, but have as yet received no reply."
We have pressed Apple but as yet have received no juice.
Whilst at my first ever job in 1983, working for the local Acorn dealership, I was involved in coding a system that did EXACTLY this using the BBC Micro and the BLISS symbol library for a local special school.
Re: Prior Art
I was thinking of BLISS when I read this story. Some of my school friends back in the 80s used this symbol system.
Why all the hate on Apple and not the plaintiffs? Holy misdirected angler. Not only computers can get programmed.
The ghost of Steve Jobs
Just learn how to speak. No big deal.
Sent from my iPhone.
The Press Release (in the comments above) notes:
"The founders of the company marketing this app are speech-language pathologists who were trained by PRC, and who used their knowledge of the Unity system to develop a Unity-like app of their own and market it in the Apple iTunes store."
That's a horse of another color. We can talk about how crap software patents are, but that's different than "we just happened to make something similar".
Re: Press release
People are knee-jerking against Apple as if Apple developed the damned thing. They didn't. They're just a retailer who don't want to get caught up in the backlash if it proves that PRC have valid patents. (And I suspect they do.)
Yes, the original PRC product is expensive, but so was the app they're suing about: a virtual sound-board shouldn't be costing hundreds of dollars, yet that's what they were charging for it! At least PRC were selling a combined ruggedised hardware + software device that did the same job, so you can understand why it'd be priced high for what is, to be fair, a very niche market.
If you work for, and are trained by, a company that has patented its research, then leave it to set up your own company in direct competition with them, you can bet your arse they're going to sue. Only an idiot wouldn't have seen this coming.
Also, do read the relevant patents carefully: it's not the basic "touch an image on a screen and hear a sound" part they're talking about. It's the user interface that PRC spent years researching and refining that's under contention here. The specific grouping of words mentioned in the article is a key element of the infringement charges.
Somebody has to pay for research, as even researchers need to eat and pay the rent. You can either pay for research indirectly through taxes—i.e. everyone pays a small slice—or directly when purchasing the resulting products / services. Even universities now maintain their own pools of patents and other IP for licensing.
Re: Press release
"It's the user interface that PRC spent years researching and refining that's under contention here. The specific grouping of words mentioned in the article is a key element of the infringement charges."
Is a 'grouping of words' patentable in Europe or anywhere outside US? I could understand copyright, but a patent for a user interface?
Are European researchers starving, hanging about on street corners? They don't get patent protection.
Will disabled children have to use obsolete technology for 15 years (in US) as a consequence?
Is the app in question still available in app stores in territories where US patents are not enforcable?
I'm not fIsking Sean T. B. here, just interested to know the answers!
Re: Press release
There are many other apps in the Apple app store that do a similar job. NONE of them are being sued by PRC because they don't use their patented UI.
This isn't a case of disabled children being deprived of software that could help them, it's about one manufacturer being sued by another for copying a specific design. Having decided that they're probably not going to win in court the offending company seems to be trying to win in the court of public opinion instead.
Apple hate people who work for them at every level, from slave in China to "clever" bod behind the counter. With utter disdain for resellers.
Why is this a surprise, these disabled kids can't service Apple, it doesn't benefit them to help children with problems, all they care about is shoehorning retina displays into everything, sweeping slave labour under the rug and shafting everyone who owns a product of theirs.
How old are you? Six?
Jeebus isn't a person, it's a trolling app.
The highest level of customer satisfaction in the business is now "shafting"? Your are not the sharpest knife in the drawer.......
You seem to work under the assumption that consumer satisfaction has anything to do with product quality or consumer service. This is extremely wrong. People like to complain endlessly about very good products, and they also like to praise crappy stuff that they bought at a premium. That is the "sheeple" effect. If you pay a lot for something that doesn work properly, and you admit it, then you admit that you've been had, and that you are not,, to use your words, "the sharpest knife in the drawer" On the other hand, complaining about a very good piece of kit makes you look good and knowledgeable, and disctinctive and flairy. That is crowd psychology 101.
It even works when you know how it works, which is remarkable. For example, I know how it works, and it still works on me. I don't have much Apple kit, and what I have is genuinely good, (yes Jeebus, they do manage to get good products on the market, too, even though it's not always the case) but I did buy a Fujifilm Finepix X100. While it is overall a good camera, it is (or was) very pricey and it has a lot of annoying quirks and shortcomings that should really be absent from a camera in that price range. It basically has very little over the likes of Panasonic's LX range or Canon's S range*, but is significantly bulkier and has limitations that the others don't have. It is also twice as expensive. But it looks cooler. I know all that, but I sometimes still catch myself talking about these quirks as "personality" of the camera instead of plain shortcomings as I know they are ( I do own a Panasonic LX3 and I bought my sister a Canon S90, so I do have side-by-side comparisons showing clearly said shortcomings. Some might be corrected in future firmware updates, but the softness of the lens for example is really not excusable).
*The viewfinder is good, but that's about it.
Re: @ Dana
In other words, if people like it and enjoy it, they are simply too stupid to know whats good for them.
Just an observation ....
..... having worked in music retail during a case between Kelloggs & Ozric Tentacles (My memory is hazy as that was a time of all night parties that finished in time for work :D)
An Ozrics box set was created with copied the Kelloggs cereal box designs. During the entire court case we were under no obligation to remove the offending box set from sale until the case had concluded and a withdrawal order sent.
Apple, by removing the app from sale, may have actually prejudiced the case against the developers.
As for the distibution excuses being plastered over these comments, absolute crap. Apple are in patent litigation against Samsung but Galaxys are still being distributed and sold.
In my humble opinion...
I think Apple is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I was the CEO I'd have left it until a judgement was made, but in a litigation-happy culture such luxuries may not be viable.
As for the horrible nasty bad bad bad infringing software... Yeah? So it does the same sort of thing as a more expensive package. And? Are you seriously brandishing the patent stick? How the hell is this not anti-competitive? There is a thing called market choice, you know. Sometimes the better product wins, sometimes the cheaper product wins, and sometimes the cheaper product is the better. That's just how the cookie crumbles. Unless, of course, you're American...
If I read the family's blog correctly, it seems they tried to get their daughter interested in PRC's device first. She didn't like it and made it clear she wouldn't use it. The iPad solution literally is the ONLY option for her.
If PRC's patent is ruled valid, then what they SHOULD do is re-market the app under their corporate label. Otherwise, PRC could be setting themselves up for an ADA lawsuit later.
People before greed
You need to see this from the other perspective
All those people who used the app apparently were criminals. They were using it to defraud the original manufacturer. Apple only helped them on their right way by disabling the app for them.
If you disagree, why the hell have you bought a device with that feature? If people would only stop and think before buying a computer, the world would be a happier place.
The real villain is of course
The US legal system for allowing software patents.
There's a reason nobody else does, which is it's a broken idea.
BTW El Reg on reading "We pressed Apple for a comment, but have yet to receive a reply.", when was the last time Apple responded to you?
(And it doesn't appear to be just you, this seems to be boilerplate for any media organisation that asks a question Apple doesn't care to answer)
Hard to see what is patentable
Humans, chimpanzees and gorillas have been using pictogram to speech based computer based communication systems for decades. What's the novel application here?
seriously $300 for an iphone app.
Yep, I agree apple shouldnt pull an app til its proven in court its infringing patents.
Yep the US software patent system is so messed up its laughable.
But This is not a piece of software from a non profit organisation, they are as guilty of fleecing the target market as the makers of the overpriced $3000 dedicated devices are being accused of.
The app apple removed .. it cost $300. It was the 14th most expensive iphone apps in world. (data from march 2012). Hardly the altruistic software that the article makes it out to be.
This is from a company that says on its own website "Heidi and Renee say they'd like to "change the world, and we can do that for people who can't talk by giving them a voice. It is a basic human right to have the ability and means to 'Speak for Yourself.'"
It may be a basic human right to be able to speak for yourself, but obviously only if you have the $300 to do so.
It sux that an app that can make such a difference to peoples lifes has been removed from the app store, but at the same time, its a shame that they'd have to pay $300 to get it if it wasnt
Re: seriously $300 for an iphone app.
Not a clue have you.
There fewer likely customers you have the more you have to charge to cover your costs and make a profit and this is pretty much a niche market
Worth restating ...
the underlying problem here, is a legal system which substitutes patents for copyright.
That is all.
PRC Have a better patent than that.
They have a patent for an "Image display device", if they enforced that patent, then they'd make billions!
Or release for Android...
Or just release it for Android. Cheaper to buy tablets, Google is unlikely to pull it from their store, and even if they do you just go in to settings, allow apps from untrusted sorces, download the *.apk and bobs your uncle!
Petition at Change.org
A petition is now up at Change.org It is titled Let Maya Speak for Herslef.
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