So, it seems many of those tantalising Apple Watch Series 7 rumours turned out to be false. Did we get the flat-edged design? Nope. Did we get the hugely improved battery life? Nah. We did get a few surprise features, like the addition of a full on-screen keyboard – but this is proving one of Apple's most controversial updates yet.
Putting aside the fact that typing on such a tiny device doesn't look entirely practical (we won't be writing our novel on this one), the announcement has raised ire thanks to its apparent similarity to a third-party app – one which Apple unceremoniously yanked from the App Store recently. Coincidence? The internet thinks not. (Check out the best Apple Watch deals if you're in the market for a new wearable.)
Calling the keyboard an "Apple Watch first", the company describes how the new QWERTY keyboard lets you tap or slide from letter to letter with QuickPath, using machine learning to predict the word you’re typing.
But taking particular umbrage with the word "first" is FlickType founder and developer Kosta Eleftheriou, whose app, released in 2018, offers a QWERTY keyboard lets you tap or slide from letter to letter, using machine learning to predict the word you’re typing (sound familiar?). After the Apple Watch 7 announcement, Eleftheriou shared a screenshot of an email from Apple banning FlickType from the App Store, along with the words "So now we know".
So now we know. See you in court, @Apple. https://t.co/hJtPI2Z83J pic.twitter.com/1s7MUSLTpcSeptember 14, 2021
"So that's why they rejected that 3rd party keyboard app, eh?" One MacRumors user comments, while another adds, "Right, so it can “only” work on the 7. Funny one of the more popular keyboard apps left the App Store a few weeks back for current watch models." Indeed, it seems many are suspicious of Apple's decision to block a third party version of the feature that doesn't require users to, you know, upgrade to the latest model.
This is by no means the first time Apple has been accused of copying (or as the developer community calls it, "Sherlocking") third party creations, rendering them obsolete. One of the most famous examples saw F.lux, which adjusted the warmth of the MacBook's display at night, replaced by Apple's in-built Night Shift feature.
Time will tell what will come of Eleftheriou's battle with Apple, but the company can add this to a long list of current legal wranglings, where it joins the likes of Apple vs Epic and, er, Apple vs a small meal-planning app.