4 apps that Apple banned only to “steal” their features with the next iOS update

Apple is huge, there’s no denying that. The company has made a name for itself by selling premium-design products that have a simple workflow and “just work”. Of course, to achieve that, its devices are a bit more “limited” in terms of tinkering and customizability. The ecosystem is closed off and if you don’t like how a certain feature works — it’s tough luck, you probably won’t be able to dig behind the scenes and change it (unless you feel adventurous and jailbreak).

But, over the years, some crafty app developers have found their way around some locked doors and presented us with features, which weren’t exactly intended to be on iOS. Sometimes, it turns out that these are widely liked by a lot of users, and they gain popularity quickly. And then, in comes Apple to ban them, because they mess with the user experience, which the company has carefully crafted. But controversy stirs when the next iOS update actually has the very features, which the banned apps provided for the users.

Yeah, we can remember 4 such occasions. Here they are:

Camera+ and the VolumeSnap feature

Back in the distant days of the iPhone 4, the volume button did not double as a shutter key for the camera app, believe it or not. Developer “tap tap tap” was first to add the feature to its well-known app Camera+ back then. However, that quickly resulted in the app being pulled from the App Store. Apple said that changing the way the iPhone’s external hardware works may confuse users. Makes sense, sure, and it does sound like a very Apple thing to say. However, once the iPhone 4s launched, and iOS 5 with it, the volume button shutter was actually added as a regular feature!

All is fine now, however, as tap tap tap’s Camera+ has been reinstated on the App Store and is one of the most popular 3rd party camera apps to date.

Download Camera+ here

f.lux and Night Shift

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the rise of the “blue light filters”. Utility tools, which filter out the blue light coming from our screens, which research shows is a primary reason for low-quality sleep. These usually kick in after sunset to ease the strain on our eyes.

Sounds familiar, right? The iPhone has it, the Samsung Galaxies have it, LG and Motorola have it, and a lot more manufacturers do it now. Arguably, the trend really kicked off with the f.lux controversy.

f.lux was already popular on Windows and Mac when the developers decided to port it for iOS. Now, due to the fact that the app needs special APIs to control the screen colors, it was never going to make it on the App Store. That’s why the developers released it as a downloadable file for sideloading. It gained popularity quickly, but Apple was fast to axe it, contacting the developers and “asking” them to remove the download link.

Lo and behold, when iOS 9.3 landed, iPhones and iPads got a feature called “Night Shift” — a blue light filter, just like f.lux. After this controversy raised awareness about the benefits of the feature, other manufacturers followed suit and added it to their new phones, so we guess the outcome is positive for the users?

Finder for AirPods

When the iPhone 7 launched without a headphone jack and the AirPods were announced, everyone started making jokes about how Apple is forcing consumers to buy earbuds that will be easily lost and would need replacing regularly. We’re not sure about them falling off our ears just like that, but sure — it’s possible that you can bury an AirPod under a stack of papers on your desk.

A crafty developer launched Finder for AirPods — an app that allowed you to locate your lost Pod thanks to a signal bar, which showed you how close you are to it. However, it was very quickly pulled by Apple, who stated that the “App is not appropriate for the App Store”.

Two weeks after the ordeal, Apple launched the first public beta for iOS 10.3. Yep, you guessed it right, the Find my iPhone app now has an integrated AirPod tracker as well.

Coolpixel and screen recording

Coolpixel launched back in December of 2016. It’s a camera recorder and video editor, which also is somehow capable of recording your phone’s screen. That’s a pretty big feat, as screen recording on the iPhone or iPad is only possible if you hook the device up to a Mac right now.

With native screen recording coming with iOS 11, you can probably already guess what Coolpixel’s fate is. The app has been removed from the App Store once. Then, the tenacious developer managed to upload it again. Then, it was taken down again.

So, yeah, unless you have the iOS 11 public beta, you’ll need to wait for it to launch before you can record your iPhone or iPad screen. Sorry.

Note: turns out there are quite a few screen recording apps for iOS out there. All of them keep getting booted from the App Store, though

Can you think of any other occasions where Apple banned an app, only to incorporate its features afterwards? Let us know in the comments!



43. razmahtaz001

Posts: 501; Member since: May 11, 2013

wow, not only does apple shaft their customers, they shaft their devs too OMG...apple is great at stealing other peoples work and act like its theirs...and get away with it LOL...wtf is wrong with our country??? iphonies have no comment on this matter, they too loyal to say anything bad about apple LOL

42. BullDozer

Posts: 160; Member since: Dec 18, 2015

This just happens when you do business with Apple.

31. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

That is just as low as low can get to steal someones work.

29. fiji.siv

Posts: 95; Member since: Nov 25, 2015

Back in the iPhone 3G days, Apple banned apps that took video because the act of displaying the video while recording placed "a significant burden on the hardware". During the same time frame apps that enabled a desktop wallpaper were banned (the iPhone background was black and only black). There were jailbreak apps to allow more than 12 icons in a folder. I had an alternate keyboard that supported typing in landscape mode. It got banned and the feature was added in the very next "iPhone OS" release.

35. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

I was an avid apple fan from the ages of Apple II to Mac to iPad. I couldn't take the s**tty things they are doing to me their customer so I left and never look back. Now I feel liberated.

27. MartyK

Posts: 1045; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

This is why consumers need to put a money cap on buying phones. Anything over $700.00 is over price! We also need to stop the battle of O.S's as well, all these companies is making a killing off our childish behavior.

26. Spyro

Posts: 334; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

I remember when iOS 9 debuted the Night Shift feature when I had f.lux on my jailbroken iPhone 5 for like a year.. Totally a dick move from Apple to take features from other devs.

25. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1382; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I think Apple, IMHO, is taking Steve Job's quote ( good artist copy and Great ones steal) a little to literal. When this starts hurting developers that just want to make a living and provide for their families its wrong. See what I mean about "Depravity" Tim Can talk about racism and how he will not tolerate wrong things But here we have a perfect example of Apple committing a wrong to its own developers and Tim Says nothing. Dark hit it on the head- "Apple is as corrupt ( Deprave) as any other big greedy for profit company. They're all about the money, however they can get it."

22. Cyberchum

Posts: 1147; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

And to think that after all these broad-day-light thefts, their take on mobile OS is still miles away from perfect. Why take the Devs' apps down? Why not simply add the feature to your own OS and let users use whichever appeals to them more? Well, it's Apple and their users (not sheeples).

19. lyndon420

Posts: 6943; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

"Apple said that changing the way the iPhone’s external hardware works may confuse users." I fail to see how a user would be confused if he deliberately installed an app for the sole purpose of changing the UI to his liking.

16. theunspoken

Posts: 310; Member since: Jul 06, 2017

East or west, apple sucks than the rest.

33. cmdacos

Posts: 4422; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Wtf does this mean? Use your stupidity for good not trolling.

62. theunspoken

Posts: 310; Member since: Jul 06, 2017

You are stupid enough to comment back.

14. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Poor developers. They just want to make a living. Shame on you Apple.

9. MarmiteTheDog

Posts: 192; Member since: Jul 31, 2017

Apple stealing other people's ideas? Their whole mobile ecosystem is built upon theft.

41. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Steve Jobs himself promoted the fact that great artists steal. Apple stole, got inspired, and/or designed original things. And became the richest brand in the world. While everyone else was busy making memes about Apple executIves being thiefs.

49. tedkord

Posts: 17529; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

So, to summarize, they're thieves. Being really successful thieves doesn't make it OK.

61. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Yup! I agree with you. I was just stating the fact that Apple knows how to utilise situations and conditions to become successful. While all some others know is how to make good memes....

63. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

More than anything else, Apple is a marketing company. They know how to brand and advertise to make profits.

7. cocoy

Posts: 467; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

Does the developers have the right to sue apple for that stolen ideas? I think that's a copyright or patent that should have been registered otherwise they don't have any basis for filing a case against apple. So sad for those developers.

8. mrochester

Posts: 1048; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

I thought copyrights and patents were bad and everyone should be able to 'steal' everyone else's ideas with impunity? That's what the Android fans led us all to believe.

48. tedkord

Posts: 17529; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No it isn't. What they said was that Apple abused the broken patent system to stifle other manufacturers using overbroad patents on ideas they often stole from others in the first place. This is borne out by the number of high profile patents they've had invalidated the past few years.

6. phonefanboy

Posts: 51; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

We all know Victor and Alan would have never written this article. *Drop Mic

37. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Alan was looking forward to the KeyONE. Don't assume so much.

4. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Why am I not surprised?

2. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Most of the copied features are from Android and Samsung's TouchWiz, smart move too. Jacking those features made the iPhone quite a bit better, but more is needed.

5. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

But done by Apple perfectly and without lags.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Those dumb lag posts have no effect on me troll. I owned em both, I know which is better. I sold the one that isn't, and I'm typing this from my S8 Plus.

11. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

I don't see any of your humour.

12. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Perfect excuse for stealing ideas.

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