When Apple announced its iOS software update at its WWDC keynote on Monday, one much-vaunted feature caught the eye of a university student in Birmingham, England. Greg Hughes apparently looked on in surprise as Apple announced iOS 5’s PC-Free credentials including Wi-Fi iTunes syncing. Surprise came from the fact that Hughes had submitted an app to Apple’s App Store that did the exact same thing, an app that was rejected by the Cupertino outfit.

Named ‘Wi-Fi Sync‘, the app was originally rejected by Apple way back in May 2010 according to The Register, with Hughes even receiving a personal call from an Apple representative to commend him on his efforts.

Little did he know that Apple would later use the same name and even logo in iOS 5…

“Obviously I was fairly shocked,” said Hughes, referring to his reaction on Monday when he saw the new feature promoted on Apple’s website. “I’d been selling my app with that name and icon for at least a year. Apple knew that, as I’d submitted it to them, so it was surprising to see that.”

Greg Hughes released his Wi-Fi Sync application on the jailbreak store, Cydia, priced at $9.99 and has sold around 50,000 copies to date. Even with some promotional pricing at times, that’s a considerable chunk of change – and we can only imagine how many more sales he would have received if the app had been available to everyone in the App Store.

This isn’t the only case of Apple borrowing functionality from other developers for use inside iOS 5. Instapaper, Google’s Android, and even other jailbreak developers have found features in iOS 5 that are similar to other’s work.

While improving software will inevitably end with some features appearing that are similar to others, we can’t help but wish Hughes had at least been offered a job at Apple, just as they did with jailbreak developer Peter Hajas.

What do you think?