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Apple Yanks Toddler's Speech-Enabling App

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the like-taking-candy-apps-from-a-baby dept.

Patents 573

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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573 comments

But she still can... (5, Informative)

Bad Ad (729117) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:But she still can... (5, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:But she still can... (5, Insightful)

Bad Ad (729117) | about 2 years ago | (#40307523)

So do not update your iOS. Keep your iDevice how it is right now. If its that important to you, treat it as a non up-datable speech tool. It will work as it does right now...

Re:But she still can... (1, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 2 years ago | (#40307605)

So do not update your iOS. Keep your iDevice how it is right now. If its that important to you, treat it as a non up-datable speech tool. It will work as it does right now...

Right up until your iDevice fails at the end of its 3 year design life and you have to replace it with something incompatable

Re:But she still can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307743)

Dont forget being portable. The other alternatives are not really portable and suck compared to the iPad version.

Re:But she still can... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307419)

I know I shouldn't be surprised that in your rush to be a pontificating, superior, smug arsehole you didn't bother to read the article but:

"While she already has the app on her iPad, she worries about the fact that Speak for Yourself can’t send out updates and that new iOS updates from Apple could interfere with how the app function"

Re:But she still can... (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#40307435)

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.

TFA points out that it could still stop working with an iOS update.

Re:But she still can... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40307729)

And if the company supplying it really cared, they could include the girls iPad in the list of 100 devices they are allowed to locally sign and distribute for.

Re:But she still can... (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40307797)

Why does the company have to go to such complicated measures for every one of it's clients, because Apple won't allow their clients to continue updating the product with no appropiate reason?

It would be good on their behalf, but their still a bussiness.

Re:But she still can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307457)

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.

But it's her sentiment to all the other parents who deal with this problem. Obviously there are other tools out there for this kind of thing (iPad or not). She's not complaining that she doesn't have it anymore, but it's not available to others.

Re:But she still can... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307647)

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.

Apple has the ability to delete apps from your device.

Oh, wait, you thought the iDevice belonged to you? Wrong - it's pwned by Apple, and Apple can do whatever they like with it. You agreed to that in the terms & conditions.

Maybe you shouldn't do business with such a controlling, dictatorial company.

Re:But she still can... (2, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 2 years ago | (#40307683)

Oh, wait, you thought the iDevice belonged to you? Wrong

The *device* belongs to you - Unless you've stolen it, Apple can't stop by your house and take it away. It's the *content* on the device that is licensed. Perhaps it's semantics (the device is not very useful without content) but the fact remains that the device is yours.

Still there if you already have it (4, Informative)

yabos (719499) | about 2 years ago | (#40307341)

An app being yanked from the AppStore doesn't mean it gets removed from your device.

Re:Still there if you already have it (4, Informative)

Kurlon (130049) | about 2 years ago | (#40307401)

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

Re:Still there if you already have it (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#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:Still there if you already have it (1)

theodp (442580) | about 2 years ago | (#40307421)

For now, but the parents' fear is what the future will bring. Will the app be remotely revoked? Will it be compatible with future devices and versions of iOS? Will there be any support/enhancements for the app (no App Store presence presumably means no bug fixes or enhancements)? Also, while the app is there currently for Dana, it's not available any longer for others who could benefit from it.

Side Loading (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40307369)

Don't you wish you could just decide for yourself what you could were allowed to install on your device?

Re:Side Loading (2, Insightful)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 2 years ago | (#40307495)

No. I don't need to wish. Nor do I need to wish to reflash with 3rd party firmware. Or wish to run ad filtering software. Or wish to modify program access limits. Or wish to over/under clock my device. Or ... or ... or.

Wishing is for people who can't.

No, my wish is for ICS firmware to be released for my device.

Re:Side Loading (2)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | about 2 years ago | (#40307705)

I sacrificed video recording, camera, hardware acceleration, gps, and some other stuff when Samsung forgot about my device. The Galaxy S never reached South America. I had to settle for a Galaxy 5. When one day, my carrier publishes that it's available now. They sent me the device. It looks like a Galaxy S, performs like a Galaxy S, the box says Galaxy S, etc. But it's not a Galaxy S, It's a Galaxy SL (i9003 instead of i9000). For some stupid reason Samsung made a device that is actually a bit better than the Galaxy S (The i9003 is just as powerfull as the S, but has a better battery, and Super Clear LCD, which I prefer), but the hardware inside is closer to some motorola models than to the Galaxy S. They didn't bother telling anyone. I couldn't use any of the Galaxy S upgrades. My phone never received a single update. ICS was release about a month after my carrier (Claro) started selling the "Galaxy S", and I was still on Froyo. Of course, I relied on the community. I updated to Gingerbread, while losing video recording, and to the first ICS alpha losing just about everything else. Now it's been several months since I upgraded to ICS, and everything is working (apart from video recording, which probably never will, and hardware accelerated video playback, but software playback works at full framerate with this hardware up to 480p).

The same happened to every smartphone I have owned since my first Motorola A1200 back in 2005.

Don't wait for the manufacturer, chances are, if your device has enough users, there's a community project you can download and contribute to: forums.xda-developers.com. CyanogenMOD9 FTW.

Re:Side Loading (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40307811)

The Galaxy S, and Galaxy S II are pretty common in Argentina, so you shouldn't just generalize and say "South America".

Re:Side Loading (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40307511)

Of course, I also wish I "could were allowed" to haz a grammar, or read my posts before I submitted them.

Re:Side Loading (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | about 2 years ago | (#40307667)

Do you also wish that's, that you, you had, you'd, you would, you could, you do, you wi-, you once, you, you could do so, you, you do, you could, you, you want, you want them to do you so much you could do anything [youtube.com] ?

Amazingly on topic in a story about speech impaired toddlers...

I'm going to hell.

Re:Side Loading (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307727)

Don't you wish you could just decide for yourself what you could were allowed to install on your device?

I don't need to wish for that - I have a blackberry. RIM has no restrictions on what apps I install on MY device. I bought it, it belongs to me. I decide what to do with it.

Steve Jobs may be dead, but Apple remains a dictatorship.

Don't use iOS (1, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | about 2 years ago | (#40307377)

Don't use iOS devices for anything important. This kind of risk is the exactly one of the reasons the App Store and iOS' close ties to that store, is such a dumb idea to become dependent upon.

It's not your computer. Get that into your head.

And if people would stop buying them because of that, then developers would target some other, much more friendly, computer. Then you wouldn't be screwed right now.

Re:Don't use iOS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307447)

Totally agree. Arguably it's fine using iOS if you're just wanting to play some games, check your emails, etc - however when your child relies on it for their *speech* then it's inexcusable to use a device with such an unstable ecosystem.

Re:Don't use iOS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307471)

More FUD from fandroids.

Re:Don't use iOS (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#40307583)

Actually I was thinking more along the lines of the hilarity here where apple fanboi's are forced to think of the children.

Re:Don't use iOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307625)

1. Please explain how it is FUD.
2. I would not recommend Android in this situation either. It also has an unstable ecosystem albeit less so. However the app store model is flawed for critical applications.

Re:Don't use iOS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307515)

Trololol. Except unlike Android, Apple never removes apps from handsets. Troll harder!

Re:Don't use iOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307679)

..Who mentioned Android?

Re:Don't use iOS (-1, Troll)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40307519)

so is there an app like this for android?
No?
I thought so. the top selling android apps usually have something do to with sitting in a dark basement and rooting and tooting your device and being amazed by the cool cryptic text on the screen instead of doing something useful

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

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#40307521)

The same thing could happen to software on an Android device. If this was available on Android the same companies that have had it pulled from the app store would have had it pulled form Google Play.

This has nothing to do with iOS except that it happens to have been an iOS app and not an Android one

Re:Don't use iOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307545)

You can easily sideload on every Android device.

Not the case with IOS

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

morgauxo (974071) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Don't use iOS (1)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#40307733)

I realise this, but apple...

from TFA

" 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)"

Those companies would make the same request where ever the app was hosted, wether it Google Play or any other app store.

Re:Don't use iOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307535)

Because friendly computers are immune to patent disputes?

Re:Don't use iOS (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 2 years ago | (#40307555)

Ah but a developer did write for a different device, a much much less friendly device. Probably one with a several thousand dollar price tag. That company patented their work. Now it doesn't matter which other device a developer might code for, it will become the subject of a lawsuit.

This is not an insightful comment, it's just a troll about Apple.

Re:Don't use iOS (2)

robmv (855035) | about 2 years ago | (#40307579)

And let me add: don't use hardware that only have one manufacturer for something important. This is something I always tell to some management people whet they try to bring a change to Apple devices in their enterprises. You have no option to switch to another manufacturer if for some reason Apple is not able to match your needs, be it there is a shortage in the country, some ban (stupid patents lawsuits) prohibits it from selling here, ...... and more

Re:Don't use iOS (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#40307599)

But if it weren't a "managed" platform, the app probably wouldn't exist (except perhaps in some embryonic form, e.g. gcash vs. quickbooks or octave vs. matlab) because the developer couldn't make any money on it. Ugh, I hate saying that. But enthusiasm around free software as a movement seems to have faded, and almost all the great open-source applications are old and mainly on servers.

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

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Don't use iOS (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 2 years ago | (#40307613)

Patents are a bitch and sideloading would be nice, but what's the alternative? Apple is pretty serious about accessibility [apple.com] and I assume they understand just as well that it's a problem in this particular case.

We are being told that Android is about freedom, that it's for people by people and so on. If Apple is so evil why do they deliver so much better on average in this field?

I love Linux, heck even my username is the name of that thing. Fortunately I don't need anything of that, but if I did I don't know if I could actually use Android.

Bad karma (4, Funny)

mseeger (40923) | about 2 years ago | (#40307379)

If the Buddhists are right, some patent lawyers and company executives are looking forward to an reincarnation as a pile of petrified sh*t at the bottom of the ocean.ï

There is no way they can make up that amount of bad karma.

Re:Bad karma (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40307689)

If the Buddhists are right, some patent lawyers and company executives are looking forward to an reincarnation as a pile of petrified sh*t at the bottom of the ocean.ï

Or even worse than that, as another patent lawyer

Re:Bad karma (1)

drrilll (2593537) | about 2 years ago | (#40307707)

On the other hand, avoiding patent controversy keeps the stock prices high. Sure, one little girl loses the ability to communicate with her family, but Apple execs can can afford to install that second hot tub. You see the predicament they are in.

Still on the device (4, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Still on the device (2)

bourdux (1609219) | about 2 years ago | (#40307437)

FTFA: While she already has the app on her iPad, she worries about the fact that Speak for Yourself can’t send out updates and that new iOS updates from Apple could interfere with how the app functions. It's not about wiping the app, it's about updates.

OMG poor toddler. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307383)

Wait did the toddler write the app? No right? So the mention of the toddler is just a cynical attempt to influence the readers?

Re:OMG poor toddler. (1)

__Paul__ (1570) | about 2 years ago | (#40307409)

Yeah, it was a bad summary. That was the way I interpreted it at first too; I wondered if someone had made an app-designer so simple that even toddlers could be writing them now (hey, it's Apple. This will probably happen).

Re:OMG poor toddler. (0)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 2 years ago | (#40307547)

Not to mention that 4 isn't really a toddler anymore, but a small child.

Re:OMG poor toddler. (-1, Troll)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | about 2 years ago | (#40307793)

A small, defective child that can't communicate without an expensive iFag device. Fuck her. I assume whatever shit prevents her from speaking has been around for ages before the ipad, and people found solutions nonetheless.

And it's not like there are no other high-tech solutions, it's just that mom's little snowflake doesn't want to try another one.

Stephen Hawking's voice synthesizer hasn't been produced for several decades. Of course, he can choose another one, but he decided to use the one he has because he likes it, and he's been able to do so for decades without support from the manufacturer. Hawking can't move 99% of his body, this bitch just can't speak. Why should I care about this 4 year old bitch more than I care about one of the brightest minds of the century?

Should have developed for Android (1, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40307387)

I have absolutely no compassion for these people who chose to support a proprietary software ecosystem that they KNOW is run by fascists who care only about money.

I have even less compassion for them if the developer is an Apple fanboy who cannot see past the stars in his eyes, and is blind to the fact that Apple has been bad to developers in general.

Apple has boned developers time and again by not respecting their rights. Anyone who would develop an app they personally need and then distribute it to their own devices via the App Store is a fool when they can use Android and have zero of these problems. Android already has all the significant functionality that the new IOS is getting.

Apple also bones users regularly, when they make an error they tell the customer that it's their fault. B&W G3s have a well-known data corruption error and Apple's answer was "buy an IDE card", not "we will replace this hardware in accordance with the law because it is defective". When Apple folded the TIL into the knowledge base they expunged this article though earlier and later articles made it. Apple will steal from you (in this case, someone is really deprived of something, and the hardware was sold under false pretenses because it does not comply with specifications it claims to meet) and then cover it up.

When you lie down with the dogs, you wake up with disease.

Re:Should have developed for Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307429)

Nothing you wrote is even remotely true. Why the Apple hatred?

Re:Should have developed for Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307513)

Except android has the same problem. If your child relies on a computer for something important then you should be running free software. Sometimes Freedom is far more important than being trendy or cool.

Re:Should have developed for Android (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#40307623)

Did you read and understand the summary? One company claims that another company's product violated their patents. So they asked the store to stop selling it. The store complied. Unlike physical products, a software product can be pulled quickly. If this was Android, it would have been the same.

What ever happened to due process (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#40307393)

This is still in court right? Innocent until proven guilty? What would apple do with Miranda??? /Rant

Re:What ever happened to due process (3)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40307443)

Innocent until proven guilty is criminal law... which I don't believe patent suits fall under.

Re:What ever happened to due process (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#40307493)

But surely as no legal decision has been made apple could not be held accountable unless they continued to sell the software for an unreasonable period after the decision had been rendered.

Re:What ever happened to due process (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#40307747)

Innocent until proven guilty is criminal law... which I don't believe patent suits fall under.

Actually patents are polar opposite. If I file a patent dispute against you, the burden of proof lies with you, you must prove your innocence or I win. And there's very little teeth in the ways for you to recover additional damages from me to cover your defense expenses, the inconvenience, the time your product was pulled off the market. That's the other fun thing, while you are trying to prove your innocence, I can get the govt to pull your product off the market so you don't have any money coming in to spend on lawyers for the ~18 months it'll take. Only the big businesses have those kinds of reserves. Even if you do win, you're down a year and a half of income and have lost a lot of market share that you'll have a very hard time getting back since the new customers have been buying from someone else due to lack of you as an option.

Combine that with near rubber-stamp patent reviews on overly-broad wording, and you have the mess that is the current patent system.

Re:What ever happened to due process (3, Insightful)

TimHunter (174406) | about 2 years ago | (#40307485)

Apple is not a court and App Store policies are not the law. Due process does not apply.

Re:What ever happened to due process (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#40307595)

But they are discriminating against People/Companies & Organisations based on legal proceedings that have not yet been concluded.

Re:What ever happened to due process (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#40307629)

...So?

Re:What ever happened to due process (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#40307653)

Surely Discrimination is a criminal Act.

Re:What ever happened to due process (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40307751)

Not all types of discrimination are criminal - only the ones defined in criminal law. This is not defined in criminal law as discrimination. And neither should it be.

Re:What ever happened to due process (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about 2 years ago | (#40307657)

This is the Apple AppStore, they have never published their complete policy on what can be in the AppStore, it is a privately controlled entity controlled by one company and subject to their whims ...

i.e. Apple can do whatever they want and you have no control over it ...this is why Apple devices and their walled garden are a fundamentally bad idea ...

why not? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307395)

Why can't the kid communicate these things? If it is big enough to understand how to use an app, it is big enough to figure out how to communicate such things as "I am tired", or "I want yogurt"... not to mention that if you have a toddler and cannot recognize the signs of him/her being tired, clearly you are not paying enough attention to your child. (I speak as a someone who has a toddler and a newborn in the house) Perhaps you should stop letting technology raise your kids?

Re:why not? (3, Informative)

bourdux (1609219) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:why not? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40307565)

It seems to me that sign language might be a viable alternative if the only issue is muscular. Granted, not everyone knows sign language (I've been half deaf since pre-school and only know two words), but in many cases it could prove superior to an iPad app.

Re:why not? (1)

progician (2451300) | about 2 years ago | (#40307593)

I don't know, if I was the parent of a kid with this condition, than it would not be an iPad app that I would use. Colourful buttons, cards, knocking, stuff like that. I don't think it is a story at all. Spend hundreds of dollars on such a device and an expensive software is completely out of my understanding. There are cheaper and apparently more sufficient methods for children with such a disabilities.

As for Apple, well, that's what you get from such a constrained software environment. If they would have the source code they could use an other device and make their own build. Or their friendly nerdy neighbour.

This is a non-story, just re-iterating the "think of the children" with some patent controversies.

Re:why not? (4, Insightful)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#40307469)

Because some disabilities can leave you mute whilst still able to understand verbal communication (Deformed larynx for instance) although god knows what disabilities have left you such an insensitive clot.

Re:why not? (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 2 years ago | (#40307537)

If you RTFA, its says that she has a speech disorder. I don't know why they don't teach her sign language. I would imagine it would be more expressive and there are plenty of babies and toddlers that have already demonstrated that its easier to learn sign language than to speak.

While their examples are poor, the point still remains. Speech is a vital part of our way or life. Yes, there are a multitude of effective methods of communication, but I would prefer that my toddler say "Mommy, can I have some yogurt please?" instead of throwing herself on the ground in front of the fridge wailing. A lot of toddler tantrums stem from frustration at knowing what they want/need and not being able to communicate that want/need. Not to mention being able to tell stories and ask questions. I imagine it is mostly a quality of life issue.

Stephen Hawking (5, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 2 years ago | (#40307413)

He's the greatest mind of our time, very famous around the world, has millions of pounds in the bank, the best medical care money can buy, etc.

Yet he refuses to upgrade the archaic system that allows him to spak.

This is exactly why. You just don't trust something that important to a fly-by-night company that sells their wares through the Apple Store, of all places.

Re:Stephen Hawking (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40307463)

I believe one of the reasons he refuses to upgrade the system is because he now considerings it "his" voice and a new system would have a different voice. He sees at as part of him, which is understandable considering it practically replaces the functions of not just his voice, but also his hands. The fact that it's worked well for him for so long is likely part of the "if it ain't broke" mentality.

Re:Stephen Hawking (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about 2 years ago | (#40307693)

Most of Stephen Hawkings system *has* been upgraded, except for the voice synth (which he now considers his voice), and the interface, which he can work much faster then any possible upgrade he would have to relearn ...

Re:Stephen Hawking (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#40307741)

Historically, devices to help speech and hearing-impaired people to communicate were fantastically expensive. Mainly because they comprised a lot of custom-built hardware that simply doesn't sell in sufficient quantities to get mass production economies of scale.

You needed to be rich and/or have some sort of a connection to an organisation that would fund such a unit for you. Make no mistake, if Stephen Hawking hadn't been blessed with the incredible good fortune to be a genius - and if he hadn't already started to establish himself as an excellent physicist before his ALS reached the point whereby he had difficulty with speech - it's much less likely he'd have had access to the sophisticated technology that allows him to communicate as early as he did.

The iPad, however, is a complete game-changer here. It's truly a disruptive technology [wikipedia.org] - suddenly, reasonably sturdy hardware with a touch-screen that's large enough for someone who hasn't (for whatever reason) got particularly good hand/eye co-ordination can be had for under £400. Pair it with appropriate software and maybe some sort of case and you've got a complete solution for under £1,000.

Yes, the app's expensive. But the whole lot is still a fraction the price of a traditional solution.

I'm not surprised the developers are in court. The companies who produce the custom-built equipment are probably terrified that their entire business model is in the process of evaporating and they'll be left with a product that is basically unsellable.

If you're so inclined... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307467)

...perhaps Dana should post up millions and millions into a trust account so if/when Apple is sued by the patent troll, they don't have to pay.

Perhaps Dana should contact the patent trolls and appeal to them directly....

Angry Birds is already a counterfeit (3, Informative)

spagthorpe (111133) | about 2 years ago | (#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:Angry Birds is already a counterfeit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307697)

That's not what "counterfeit" means.

A counterfeit version of Angry Birds would be a game that falsely purported to be Angry Birds, not just a game with similar mechanics.

why is this about apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307553)

This sounds like a story about why patents are horribly broken... not really a story about Apple.... ?

Teach her to sign (3, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#40307581)

Seriously, if the kid is mute she should have been taught sign language from day one, then she wouldn't be in the position of being unable to communicate at the age of three.

Four-year-old's app? (5, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#40307585)

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:Four-year-old's app? (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40307715)

I agree and I think it could be written more from the point of view that idiotic patent disputes hurt regular people and the progress of tech in general, but again this article is being written for the plebeians, not people who know what is actually going on behind the mask that the MSM puts into place.

Re:Four-year-old's app? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307749)

The spin is necessary.

If you want "ordinary people" to understand why a walled garden controlled by a corporate monolith might not always be a good idea, this is an excellent story. If you want "ordinary people" to understand the stupidity of software patents, this is also an excellent story.

If you would like to see software patents stifle all creativity in the tech industry, and don't like the concept of people being able to own what they paid for, then I can see why you would dislike this story.

I'm speechless (1)

halfkoreanamerican (2566687) | about 2 years ago | (#40307587)

So she cannot speak without it, yet it begs to ask: "How did you speak before your iphone?" iphones haven't been around forever... what would you have done if it never existed... what did you do?

Re:I'm speechless (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40307699)

The kid is 3 years old! There have always been ipads and iphones during her lifetime.

You might want to restate the question...

Re:I'm speechless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307701)

She's 4 years old in 2012 and the original iPhone was released in 2007. You do the math, genius.

What kids say (0)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40307669)

You do know that when a toddler tells her daddy she loves him, she's just sucking up, right?

Anyway, this is a problem with doing anything through an intermediary -- any time a dispute arises, the intermediary reacts to protect itself, not you. Same thing could happen if the app were somehow sold in a box at Best Buy. Of course, Apple gives you no choice but to sell the app that way. And IMO they're a bunch of wimps for not at least waiting for a preliminary injunction; if they got sued, getting a ruling that an app store is not liable for any unknowing or disputed patent violations would be valuable to them.

One word. Jailbreak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307681)

If they won't put the app up, jailbreak the iPad and make a open source alternative.

This is why I prefer programming for Android. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40307807)

Google pulls your app? You can still download/install from a different source. (Snes9x comes to mind)
Apple pulls your app? You're shit out of luck.
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