Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday afternoon bits: Apple sends letter defending app developers; a look at some newly launched mobile apps

Faced with increasing frustration at its silence, today lawyers for Apple finally spoke to the Lodsys patent dispute, sending a letter to the company threatenting individual developers.

“Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license,” Bruce Sewell, Apple Senior Vice President and General Counsel, claimed in his letter to Lodsys.

"Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys' patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys," Sewell wrote, according to the full letter posted on the MacWorld website.

"...Therefore, Apple requests that Lodsys immediately withdraw all notice letters sent to Apple App Makers and cease its false assertions that the App Makers’ use of licensed Apple products and services in any way constitute infringement of any Lodsys patent."

Now the ball is back in the patent troll's court.

It's been a while that TNM looked at any mobile apps (opposed to tablet apps), so I thought a a quick look at three new ones is in order:

PC users who are deaf, hard of hearing, or simply want to hear rather than read the news on a website can use their computer's speech capability to have the news read to them. This ability of your computer to speak to you goes back at least as far as the introduction of the Mac, as far as I am aware. But if you ask me, things haven't really progressed as far as one would have thought – text read by the computer is still fairly artificial.

One company that was trying to contract with newspaper websites to add audio news reading was Newsworthy, but judging by their website they haven't made much progress as their latest press release announcing a deal with the Washington Times is from 2006.

Now Newsworthy has released a mobile app, Wash Times, that promises to deliver the user the news in audio form.

The app (below left) has at least two major things going against it: one, it costs $3.99, and it is news from the Washington Times, the newspaper founded in 1982 by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon. Oh well.

I would think that the vast majority of mobile app developers have started with iOS and moved to Android. Moving Average Inc. is a small Austin, Texas-based developer that looks to have gone in the other direction, starting with a couple of Android apps before launching their first app for Apple's platform this past week.
Keep Austin Dog Friendly is a free app (above middle) that works on both the iPhone and iPad, though it definitely feels more at home on a mobile device.

Finally, I've been searching for a decent equalizer for my iPhone/iPad for a while. It has to have about ten bands, and most not cost me a fortune. I downloaded a couple but am still on the look out for something that will work.

One that I downloaded, 10 Band EQ, is a 99 cent app (above right). The EQ part works fine but the player portion of the app is of no value. Tracks must be played one at a time without moving forward or skipping to the next track.

The good news is that the developer, David Ross, promises in the app description that an update is coming soon that will add these features. If true, then this app will be worth more than 99 cents, so buying it now will have been worth it.