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Apple Yanks Toddler's Speech-Enabling App 573

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-taking-candy-apps-from-a-baby dept.
theodp writes "TIME reports that four-year-old Maya Nieder's speech-enabling 'Speak for Yourself' app was yanked from the App Store by Apple due to an unresolved patent dispute at the behest of Prentke Romich Company (PRC) and Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS), makers of designated communication devices (not iPad apps). 'The issue of whether or not Apple should have pulled Speak for Yourself from the App Store before the case was decided is trickier. Obviously, Apple would rather be safe than sorry and remove a potentially problematic app instead of risking legal action. The problem, however, is that this isn’t some counterfeit version of Angry Birds.' 'My daughter cannot speak without this app,' writes Maya's mom, Dana. 'She cannot ask us questions. She cannot tell us that she's tired, or that she wants yogurt for lunch. She cannot tell her daddy that she loves him.' If you're so inclined, Dana suggests you drop a note to appstorenotices@apple.com."
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Apple Yanks Toddler's Speech-Enabling App

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  • But she still can... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bad Ad (729117) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:13AM (#40307337)
    But its still on her device - so she still can do all those things. If she syncs her phone/ipad with itunes, she even has her own back up of the app and can reinstall it just fine.
  • by yabos (719499) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:14AM (#40307341)
    An app being yanked from the AppStore doesn't mean it gets removed from your device.
  • Still on the device (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:19AM (#40307381)

    She cannot ask us questions. She cannot tell us that she's tired, or that she wants yogurt for lunch. She cannot tell her daddy that she loves him.

    This partial quote is extremely misleading. Apple simply removing something from the App Store does not delete it from devices it is already installed on. They can still use the application. That is part of a hypothetical "What if Apple remote wiped it from our device" which has not happened.

  • by Kurlon (130049) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:21AM (#40307401)

    Depends on the level of yank Apple applies. They do have a remote kill option as noted in the past.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:23AM (#40307417)

    A few notes:
    1) This is not the only way she can communicate, simply the cheapest $299 + iPad). The first paragraph of the article says that much. Later on it does mention that the iPad app is the only one the girl took to right away.
    2) Although it's still on her iPad, they worry that it won't get app updates and that an iOS update may break it
    3) The article says Slashdot broke the news, and now Slashdot is pointing at the article that is pointing at Slashdot...

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:24AM (#40307423)

    It's still on the device, but they're worries that they won't be able to get app updates and that an iOS update may break the app

  • Re:why not? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bourdux (1609219) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:27AM (#40307451)
    From: http://techland.time.com/2012/04/04/a-little-girl-finds-her-voice-thanks-to-threatened-new-ipad-app/#ixzz1xfwxflS6 [time.com] Maya smiles and gives me a big hug as soon as I sit on the couch, or as big a hug as a tiny three-year-old girl can manage. Her mother, Dana Nieder, laughs and explains that because Maya has difficulty speaking, she often has to express herself in other ways. She is as smart and curious as any other girl her age; the problem is that the muscles that control her speech are weak and disorganized, making saying a single word incredibly difficult. Doctors have run multiple tests but all they can determine is that it is probably a genetic condition.
  • by theodp (442580) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:33AM (#40307491)

    I think TIME is referring to Slashdot's March story on Software Patents Not So Abstract When the Lawsuits Hit Home [slashdot.org]. The yanking of the app from the App Store is a more recent development.

  • by spagthorpe (111133) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:37AM (#40307527)

    "the problem, however, is that this isn’t some counterfeit version of Angry Birds."

    This cracks me up. Angry Birds was a pretty solid ripoff of "Crush The Castle." At least CtC authors acknowledged their inspiration from "Castle Clout." Pulling anything imitating Angry Birds is pure BS.

  • Re:Don't use iOS (Score:4, Informative)

    by morgauxo (974071) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:42AM (#40307575)
    At which point you could either get it from a different app store or just skip the app stores altogether and side load it. And no, that does not require rooting it. It just requires not using Apple.
  • Four-year-old's app? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:42AM (#40307585) Homepage

    So the app was written by a toddler, right? No, it was two speech pathologists, Heidi LoStracco and Renee Collender. So it was funded by the four-year-old? No again. So it's the only way she speaks, at least? Nope, just the one she likes the best.

    This headline, most of the summary, and the majority of TFA are an appeal to emotion to cloud what's ultimately a bog-standard legal issue. The app's future sale and distribution has been blocked, just like Galaxy tablets, XBoxes, iPads, and many other products that are banned from sale until patent issues are worked out. The point of the story (I guess) is to point out that patent litigation affects innocent bystanders, but this is nothing new, and I personally find the intense spin disgusting. Somehow, the fact that a four-year-old uses this app supposedly makes it okay to copy someone else's research and development? What about the researcher at Prentke Romich whose income depends on the company's speech hardware, who has a toddler at home to feed? What about the toddler whose lawyer parents are working on this case?

    Won't somebody please stop thinking of the children?

  • Re:Don't use iOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:43AM (#40307589)

    There is actually a slew of them

    one list is here
    http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/augmentative+and+alternative+communication

    There are some that are open source.

    But please, don't let facts interfere with your rant in the future.

  • Re:Don't use iOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:44AM (#40307603)
    Did you even read the summary? This is not a case of censorship which Apple has done in the past. This is a case of a legal dispute of patents and ownership. If it was on the Android or WP7 or BB store it would have been the same. Apple will put it back on sale once the developer and claimant resolve their dispute. This is the same knee jerk reaction when Apple pulled VLC. The first reactions were Apple was hostile to GPL when reality was one of the developers of VLC objected to his code being deployed in the App store because he felt it was not compliant with GPL.
  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @09:39AM (#40308141)

    Which is there for use in a hypothetical malware situation. As yet it's apparently never been or needed to be used. And it certainly hasn't been used in this case.

    So it's irrelevant to this discussion. She still has the app.

  • by jpate (1356395) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @09:54AM (#40308327) Homepage

    A few notes: 1) This is not the only way she can communicate, simply the cheapest $299 + iPad). The first paragraph of the article says that much. Later on it does mention that the iPad app is the only one the girl took to right away.

    The parents tried several much more expensive alternatives [techdirt.com] (including devices by the plaintiffs), but they were all too heavy [pcworld.com] or too difficult [digitaltrends.com] for an illiterate four-year-old to operate. They're not just going for the cheapest option

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @10:05AM (#40308455)

    Probably better that you just don't comment on stuff you obviously have no clue on.

    Apple is better than Android in terms of backwards compatibility.

    Apple hardware is available longer on the used market because it's worth more.

    Yes, you can do a full restore and reinstall apps that are local to your machine, even if they're not in the app store.

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @10:11AM (#40308529)

    The app's future sale and distribution has been blocked, just like Galaxy tablets, XBoxes, iPads, and many other products that are banned from sale until patent issues are worked out.

    Except it hasn't. The court never ordered the apps sales and distribution blocked - Apple did. This is just another example of why walled gardens are bad, particularly when the gardener likes to take it upon themselves to act as judge, jury and app-executioner.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @10:39AM (#40308869)

    I know a number of old Android apps won't work on new versions of Android (yes, I'm aware we're not talking about Android, but I have even less faith in Apple maintaining compatibility).

    Then you're in the realm of religion. You know the device you use has a problem, so you assume the problem must be worse on the other device, even though you have no evidence of it.

    Second hand hardware is only available for a reasonably short period, in the grand scheme of things.

    Depends what you mean by the grand scheme of things. You can still buy Apple IIs on ebay. So she'd probably OK till the kid is in her mid 30s. But it's hard to see her not having developed past the product she was using at 3 years old by then. And in any case, any patents will long since have expired to it's hard to see that there won't be a current solution then.

    Really, it is impossible to rationally accept this emotional tabloid "think of the children" story. There's more holes than Swiss cheese.

    I'm not familiar with Apple's software, would this restore the exact OS version you were using along with any apps even if they have been withdrawn from the appstore?

    No. I mean that the second hand device she bought from eBay would have an older version of iOS on, and she could restore the app (and any associated data) using the iTunes app.

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