'Google released a dairy product'. What, it's cheesy?

Plus: '...' - mute kids after Apple silenced them

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QuotW This was the week when Apple held its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco to confirm the many rumours that it had leaked had been circulating about new products and upgrades.

The first unsurprise was its new iOS, number 6, which included updates for iSpeak service Siri, Facebook integration and other tweaks. Arguably the biggest part of the iOS 6 announcement was the widely expected dumping of Google Maps in favour of Apple's own Maps app, powered by TomTom's databases.

What was perhaps less anticipated was Apple's obvious ire for the Chocolate Factory, as their mobile rivalry spilled out into some speaker snarkiness.

iOS honcho Scott Forstall sneered:

They released a dairy product, 4.0, about the same time that we released iOS 5.

Before telling everyone that Google's Maps was being ditched.

As always, Apple was no wallflower when discussing its own achievements in the tech world, giving a particularly glowing description of its own "next generation" MacBook Pro.

Marketing bigwig Phil Schiller said modestly:

It's the most beautiful computer we have ever made.

While keen to talk itself up, Apple was less keen to talk about removing an iPad speech synthesising app for mute young people from its iTunes store.

The Speak for Yourself app is in the middle of a patent dispute with a rival firm that has similar technology at a much higher price. Even though the case is not settled, Apple yanked the app.

The app's makers said on their website:

We have taken all of the necessary and legal steps to defend the lawsuit and protect Speak for Yourself, the app that we created that hundreds of people who are unable to talk are using to communicate. Unfortunately last week, Apple removed our app from the App Store under pressure from Semantic and Prentke Romich.

The parent of one kid who uses the app, Dana Nieder, blogged about how disappointed she was at the move:

Maya can speak to us, clearly, for the first time in her life. This app has not only allowed her to communicate her needs, but her thoughts as well. It’s given us the gift of getting to know our child on a totally different level. I’ve been so busy embracing this new reality and celebrating that I kind of forgot that there was an ongoing lawsuit.

Until last Monday. When Speak for Yourself was removed from the iTunes store.

In another conference this week, the Cloud Computing World Forum, the UK government was congratulating itself on its tech achievements as well. No, don't laugh, it's true. UK.gov CIO Andy Nelson said:

The biggest single breakthrough [in government IT] is going to G-Cloud framework.

But at least he did admit that there was still some work to be done:

[One of our challenges is] maintaining the momentum, working with all government departments to get them to adopt.

At the same conference, a European Commission bod said that it shouldn't make a difference if Europe's data was held in US data centres, so long as it was safe.

Megan Richards, acting deputy director general of Information Society and Media and also part of the Converged Networks and Services directorate, said:

Theoretically, it shouldn’t matter where data is held as long as our rules apply.

The legislation in the US is not so different from the legislation we have in the EU.

Meanwhile, privacy issues have rumbled on at the world's web giants, with Facebook in the frame this week as it ignored a vote against changing its data use policies because it wasn't representative.

The social network's proposed policy changes triggered a vote on the site when the required 7,000 user comments threshold was reached, forcing a public online debate.

However, only 297,883 voted against the policy in the ballot out of a total 342,632 users. Given that 30 per cent of the company's 900 million users would have had to cast a vote to make the result binding, rather than advisory, Facebook just ignored the whole thing.

The social network claims that anyone could have known about the vote, with communications and public policy veep Elliot Schrage saying in a blog:

We made significant efforts to make voting easy and accessible – including translating the documents and voting application into several of the world’s most popular languages and providing extensive notice through users’ news feeds and desktop and mobile advertisements.

But not all Facebookers agreed, with one posting at the end of blog:

Couldn't your 'substantial outreach effort' have included something as simple as a message that showed up on each and every Facebook user's page????

Tech companies just can't seem to get their conferences right lately, as Microsoft is forced to apologise for behaviour at a developers' conference in Norway less than a month after Dell had to say sorry for a channel event in Denmark.

Redmond had to express regret for an ill-judged song and dance routine at the confab that included a line about whether or not the word Microsoft could possibly refer to the size and attitude of male genitalia, as well as this 90s-hip-hop inspired gem:

We’re here 2 talk software / We’re here 2 talk bugs / 2nite we’re gonna party / Coding is our drug

The embarrassing episode was put up on YouTube and got some disapproving Tweets from attendees at the conference, forcing Microsoft to say:

This week’s Norwegian Developer’s Conference included a skit that involved inappropriate and offensive elements and vulgar language. We apologize to our customers and our partners and are actively looking into the matter.

The snafu follows an incident at a Dell channel event in Denmark at which known provocateur Mads Christensen made a number of highly offensive remarks about women in IT and just women in general. ®

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