Copying ideas isn't always a bad thing

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| June 28, 2013

For a long time we've been watching the epic battle of Apple vs. the world as they try and patent everything under the sun, including (but not limited to): the page turn, glass stairs, and rectangular devices that are white in color. The blurbs grow far and few in between these days, but they still pop up in smaller instances like Apple trying to include the Samsung Galaxy S 4 in their lawsuit. But where does Apple come about trying to call other companies out on copying their ideas when they, in turn, do the same thing?

It's no secret that iOS 7 shares some of the same elements that come from almost every other platform: minimalism from Windows Phone design, gestures from BlackBerry 10, and Control Center from several Android devices. For a company that likes to point fingers and take money from companies that supposedly copy them, they sure are making it seem like copying is A-OK when it comes to their new software update.

And sometimes it is.

In a recent CNN report we find that Apple is also testing a new feature to come in iOS 7: motion detection. Now, you may recall that I have scrutinized motion detection recently in a couple of articles that I've written regarding the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Smart Scrolling, Smart Pause, Smart Stay and any other 'Smart' features, I felt, were very gimmicky when it comes to everyday use. However, upon further research I realized that these features weren't necessarily for the average user, but for people who needed it for accessibility. I'll admit, I had forgotten to look outside of the box for a minute. Accessibility features are absolutely important to have in a device, which might be why I'm not really worked up about the fact that Apple plans to implement the feature in iOS 7.

A lot of people have already run over to Samsung's defense when it comes to Apple implementing motion detection, and if it was just another feature that didn't really need to be implemented in a phone I could understand why. After all, Apple has been bullying Samsung for a long time. But when it comes down to it in this situation it's not really about Apple vs. Samsung, or who made what first: it's about making these phones better for everybody in general. People who need to use motion detection features shouldn't be limited to just using Samsung's phones (although there's certainly a lot to choose from lately, isn't there?) Regardless, I am positive there are people out there who would like to use iOS devices but realized they would be better off using Samsung for the Smart features.

Even when it doesn't involve something like accessibility, there are certain aspects of phones that should be acceptable to borrow. I mean, what's wrong with another phone having a rectangular shape and being white? I like white phones, but I would be pretty upset if the only way I could get a white phone was if it was an iPhone. Not to mention there were plenty of white, rectangular phones that came out before the iPhone, so I still don't understand what gives them the right to patent that design, but whatever. I think the thing that irks me the most about Apple lately is that even the late Steve Jobs was quoted saying that "We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas..." Not anymore! Shameless, indeed!

But try as I might to be angry at Apple for being major hypocrates, I can't get mad at them for this particular implementation in particular. It's one of those things that should be there, and in every future smartphone.

Smartphones are all about taking an idea and adapting it. The iPhone may have been the most iconic smartphone we've seen, but it certainly wasn't the first. Maybe the term 'smartphone' hadn't been coined yet, but the devices themselves existed. So here we have Apple creating their own adaption to earlier smartphones by keeping the same idea but making the experience different; other manufacturers then took that idea and ran with it to create more adaptions, and now we have several choices when it comes to smartphones. These things happen, people steal ideas. I can understand getting mad over something like completely ripping off an entire interface, but taking bits and pieces from other ideas and molding them to be your own is just part of life. And taking ideas that allow for a potential consumer to have more than one choice when it comes to choosing smartphones should be one of those stolen ideas where it's just understandably okay to do so. Yes, Apple benefits from it, but so do the people who need the feature.

So if Apple could just cool their jets when it comes to bashing companies with the thief-beating stick now that they're also stealing ideas, that would be cool.

Image via Geek

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