Apple Watch Series 7 feature an on-screen keyboard similar to FlickType
The new Apple Watch Series 7 launched today, and these new smartwatches come with several big upgrades over the previous models. From a bigger display to updated hardware and even some new software features, the Watch Series 7 are the best Apple Watches yet. The new Apple Watch Series 7 also run the latest version of watchOS out of the box — watchOS 8. With the new release and larger display, Apple made a new QWERTY keyboard for the watch called QuickPath, which makes it possible to type to reply to messages.
While a keyboard app is nice to have, it isn’t innovative and certainly isn’t original. In fact, Apple is accused of cloning another keyboard app for the Apple Watch called FlickType. Its founder, Kosta Eleftheriou, filed a lawsuit against Apple earlier this year after the company took down the iPhone version of the app. Eleftheriou took to Twitter following the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 7, where he shared the email that the App Store Review team sent after taking down the app earlier this year. The email states that his app violated the Apple iOS Human Interface Guidelines section of the App Store Review Guidelines. It also states that “the app is a keyboard for Apple Watch. For this reason, your app will be removed from sale on the App Store at this time.”
— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) September 14, 2021
For the uninitiated: FlickType is an accessibility keyboard for low-vision users and can help people who are blind or have vision impairments to type on an iPhone. The app originally launched in 2018 and was followed in 2020 by a companion Apple Watch app that lets users type on their smartwatch to reply to notifications. When the companion Apple Watch application was released, it rocketed up to the number one paid app spot on the App Store for a period of time.
When Eleftheriou sued Apple earlier this year for removing the FlickType app for iPhone, he alleged that Apple had attempted to acquire the application from him and that Apple had allowed competing applications to target him unfairly in order to devalue FlickType. He said that when he complained about fake reviews and false advertising, Apple didn’t do enough to combat those apps that he believed were perpetrators of it.
After months of appeals, Eleftheriou managed to get FlickType back on the App Store, though he says that he lost a year of revenue thanks to the length of time that it was taken down. Apple then banned his app again just last month, so the developer decided to discontinue development on the iPhone keyboard portion of the app rather than continue to fight Apple. Apple’s reasoning behind the removal was that the app needs “full access” to the network to work, alongside other iOS features, which is not allowed. Eleftheriou says that if the company had tried out the app or consulted their previous conversations, they’d have seen that the keyboard works just fine without network access.
It’s with a heavy heart today that we’re announcing the discontinuation of our award-winning iPhone keyboard for blind users.
Apple has thrown us obstacle after obstacle for years while we try to provide an app to improve people’s lives, and we can no longer endure their abuse. pic.twitter.com/cH1HCQzeP1
— FlickType Watch Keyboard (@FlickType) August 16, 2021
“Our rejection history already spans more than FOURTY pages filled with repeated, unwarranted, & unreasonable rejections that serve to frustrate & delay rather than benefit end-users. And dealing with App Review isn’t just time-consuming. It’s also very emotionally draining”, Eleftheriou wrote on Twitter.
Eleftheriou has accused Apple of false advertising, unfair competition in violation of California’s business and professions code, breach of good faith and fair dealing with regard to the Apple Developer Program License Agreement, fraud, and negligence and negligent misrepresentation. As with any dispute between a developer and an app store, it’s not easy to say who is right and who is wrong since we don’t have the entire picture. However, it certainly doesn’t look good for Apple to launch an app that looks very similar to one whose developer they’ve frequently butted heads with.