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ExtraBITS for 15 March 2010

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Our extracurricular reading this week was all about Apple, with the New York Times examining the Apple/Google rift, the EFF taking a close read on Apple's iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, and usability guru Jakob Nielsen criticizing how iTunes handles app updates.


New York Times Examines the Apple/Google Rift -- The New York Times has a lengthy article laying out the history of the relationship between Apple and Google, which started close but has now developed schisms due to the huge differences in corporate approaches and increasingly competitive products. Apple prefers proprietary systems and tight control over high margin products, whereas Google's goal is to increase Web usage (and thus ad revenue) via free services and open-source software. It's the iPhone OS versus Android, Mac OS X versus Chrome OS, Safari versus Chrome, and Apple's Quattro acquisition versus Google's AdMob buy. All that, and the competition between the companies is just starting to heat up.

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EFF Examines iPhone Developer License Agreement -- Alongside Apple's undeniable success with the iPhone App Store have been the near-constant stories of app rejections for dubious or entirely bogus reasons (to be fair, most rejections are entirely legitimate). But what gives Apple the right to reject or even remove apps? The iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, to which all iPhone developers must agree, that's what. The EFF has now acquired copies of the agreement and analyzed some of the more troubling clauses. Would they stand up in court? There's no way to know until someone sues Apple.

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Jakob Nielsen Criticizes iTunes App Update Interface -- Usability guru Jakob Nielsen devoted his Alertbox post this week to showing how interfaces can become confusing if elements like buttons and checkboxes are too far away from the objects they act on, using the iPhone app updating interface in iTunes as an example. Our take is that the overall mistake here is that Apple is relying on iTunes for too many unrelated tasks that call out for different interface approaches.

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