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Apple Up To Its Old Tricks Nicking, Other Peoples Technology

The low life actions of Apple executives have again been exposed in yet another case, with the iPhone maker this time accused of stealing the concept of a FlikType keyboard with a similar design now found in the new Apple Watch 7.

In January 2019, Kosta Eleftheriou had every reason to believe Apple was about to make a deal with his Company a Court has heard.

Apparently, Apple’s head of keyboards loved his FlikType keyboard app so much that he sent an email claiming “Apple should buy this from you,”.

It “could be a key feature for the watch.”

Hours after being pumped up at the concept of Apple buying his app Eleftheriou received a message from Apple, but not the one he expected.

In the course of one afternoon, the company had seemingly decided that Apple Watch keyboards were against the rules and his app was facing problems.

“Specifically, the app is a keyboard for Apple Watch.

It was just last month that Kosta Eleftheriou, the developer of FlickType, announced that his swipe-based keyboard for the blind would be pulled off the App Store over objections by Apple.

For this reason, your app will be removed from sale on the App Store at this time,” Apple wrote.

Last week Apple revealed its own swipe keyboard app alongside the new Apple Watch Series 7 which appears to be similar to the FlikType keyboard.

Eleftheriou had been “Sherlocked” claims developers who are using the expression to describe what is becoming common practise for Apple, stealing other people ideas and patents.

Kosta Eleftheriou is far from the first person to be duded by Apple.

Apple has a long history of looking to its own app developers for inspiration, copying their ideas, and integrating them into its own operating systems for free.

(It’s called “Sherlocking” because Apple famously copied a lot of features from the third-party Watson app over to its Sherlock desktop search tool in 2002; here are some more recent examples.)

When Apple blocked his app two years ago and continued to tussle with him over updates, the company made an enemy of Eleftheriou.

He’s become one of Apple’s most vocal critics, developing a reputation as a scam hunter.

He continually and effectively points out that Apple is terrible at keeping out frauds which bilk ordinary users out of outrageous sums of money.

Eleftheriou filed his suit six full months before the Apple Watch Series 7 announcement last week.

It’s not clear what impact the Sherlocking might have on the suit, and he won’t say. His lawyers are advising him against saying too much to journalists.

At one stage Apple rejected the notion of keyboards onside a watch.

But no, Apple didn’t actually reject every Apple Watch keyboard app in 2019 — Eleftheriou believes his app was singled out for this treatment.

Shift Keyboard had already arrived in February 2019, and even partner apps that included Eleftheriou’ s keyboard tech (the complaint names Nano for Reddit, Chirp for Twitter and Lens for Instagram) allegedly made it through.

Apple told The Verge it changed its mind over time.

Originally, the company didn’t think it was appropriate for a keyboard to take up the entirety of the Apple Watch’s small screen but decided differently in 2019 after it saw the potential and says it’s encouraged Apple Watch keyboards ever since.

The company basically admits that removing Eleftheriou’ s app was a mistake, and claims it quickly corrected the issue.

But Eleftheriou disputes that last point, saying it took a year of appeals and resubmissions to get his keyboard back onto the store.

“From [January 2019] on, I was simultaneously discussing a FlickType acquisition with them, while also being rejected,” he tells me. And Apple initially made it look like those appeals failed, too.

“The App Review Board evaluated your app and determined that the original rejection feedback is valid. Please note that all appeal results are final,” reads Eleftheriou from a message he received in May 2019.

In the complaint, he alleges it wasn’t until January 2020, a year after the surprise takedown, that his Apple Watch keyboard extension was approved.

When FlickType for Apple Watch did finally arrive, it became the number one paid app in the entire store, pulled in $130,000 in its first month, he claims, and was named one of Apple’s top paid apps of 2020.

That’s what he’s using as grounds that he’s been financially harmed in the lawsuit.

He said, “I will be delighted to bring back the accessible FlickType Keyboard for iPhone when Apple finally fixes their broken 3rd-party keyboard APIs on iOS and allows developers to fairly compete with Apple’s own keyboard”.

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