Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Dec 2013 07:48 UTC
Google

Fred Vogelstein, writing for The Atlantic, on what happened with the Android team after the iPhone was unveiled:

Within weeks the Android team had completely reconfigured its objectives. A phone with a touchscreen, code-named Dream, that had been in the early stages of development, became the focus. Its launch was pushed out a year until fall 2008. Engineers started drilling into it all the things the iPhone didn't do to differentiate their phone when launch day did occur.

Me, a few years ago:

Now, does this mean that the iPhone had zero influence on Android's early development? Of course not. Like the iPhone itself was standing on the shoulders of giants (iPhone to PalmOS: hi daddy!), Android stood on the shoulders of giants as well. However, unlike what has already become an accepted truth for some, the infamous photograph of a prototype Android device was not the prototype Android device. In fact, Google was working on touch screen devices alongside that infamous BlackBerry-like device, and the evidence for that is out there, for everyone to see.

Vogelstein's entire article - which is actually adapted from a chapter of a book - is a bit contradictory in nature. It claims, several times, that the Android team had to start over after the release of the iPhone, but at the same time, it states that a full touch phone was already in development.

So, just to reiterate: touchscreen devices had always been part of Android, even during its initial stages at Google. Several different form factors were in development, but after the release of the iPhone, it made little sense to continue to focus on the BlackBerry-like device. Some make it seem as if Vogelstein's article is some sort of massive eye-opener completely rebutting this point, but it seems they may have missed its second-to-last paragraph.

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Probably late edits
by Carewolf on Fri 20th Dec 2013 09:12 UTC
Carewolf
Member since:
2005-09-08

The inclusion of a mention that the touch device was already in development was probably a late edit or post release edit after they were told the article was wrong. That would explain how the tone of the article contradicts the facts.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Probably late edits
by theTSF on Fri 20th Dec 2013 19:35 UTC in reply to "Probably late edits"
theTSF Member since:
2005-09-27

The vision of touch has changed. Multi-touch with gestures that were almost universally used intuitively. With UI that was fast enough to make you get the feed back you needed. Now that was new, We didn't even see this on PC's or other tech, other than Microsoft Demos at trade shows, often showing off gee wiz but no vision on how it can be useful.

Blackberry had the image of the smart phone. Small screen with a keyboard, with a stylus, or a track ball to navigate. Apple broke the mold and forced the industry to reinvent the smart phone to what we see today. And gave Apple a 2 year head start

Reply Score: 3

Comment by kfet
by kfet on Fri 20th Dec 2013 10:31 UTC
kfet
Member since:
2005-07-06

Touchscreen ... operated with a stylus.

One must be in quite a denial to not see how they had to start over.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by kfet
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 20th Dec 2013 10:34 UTC in reply to "Comment by kfet"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Stylus?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kfet
by kfet on Fri 20th Dec 2013 10:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kfet"
kfet Member since:
2005-07-06

The iPhone was the first touchscreen phone operated by finger, it's one of the things that made it unique. People tend to forget how weird that looked the first time we've seen it. I remember I was not at all convinced it will work for me.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by kfet
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 20th Dec 2013 11:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kfet"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The iPhone was the first touchscreen phone operated by finger, it's one of the things that made it unique. People tend to forget how weird that looked the first time we've seen it. I remember I was not at all convinced it will work for me.


I used my PDAs with my finger 95% of the time. Hence, I had no doubt about the iPhone's interface working just fine, and was not surprised at all.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by kfet
by kfet on Fri 20th Dec 2013 11:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kfet"
kfet Member since:
2005-07-06

I used my PDAs with my finger 95% of the time. Hence, I had no doubt about the iPhone's interface working just fine, and was not surprised at all.


I'm not refering to the possibility to use plain fingers to operate a phone. I'm talking about it being the main user interface device, something we all take for granted nowadays.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by kfet
by Carewolf on Fri 20th Dec 2013 12:05 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by kfet"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

"I used my PDAs with my finger 95% of the time. Hence, I had no doubt about the iPhone's interface working just fine, and was not surprised at all.


I'm not refering to the possibility to use plain fingers to operate a phone. I'm talking about it being the main user interface device, something we all take for granted nowadays.
"

And did in 2005 as well. Touch screen phones were uncommon, but did exists in the high-end market before the iPhone, and they did not need a stylus, in 2005 only old slow changing brands and very cheap touch devices were stylus based.

Edited 2013-12-20 12:11 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[6]: Comment by kfet
by kfet on Fri 20th Dec 2013 16:02 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by kfet"
kfet Member since:
2005-07-06

"...I'm talking about it being the main user interface device, something we all take for granted nowadays.


And did in 2005 as well. Touch screen phones were uncommon, but did exists in the high-end market before the iPhone, and they did not need a stylus, in 2005 only old slow changing brands and very cheap touch devices were stylus based.
"

I'm honestly surprised. I guess you do believe non-stylus touch interfaces were common among phones since 2005, but at the time of revealing the iPhone I haven't bumped into a single one of them. Have an example?

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Comment by kfet
by Carewolf on Fri 20th Dec 2013 21:17 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by kfet"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

I didn't say they were common, I said they existed. The mobile phone market before iPhone was more diversified, all manufacturers had dusins of different models, most has physical buttons, touch based with stylus existed with WinCE but were never popular and all touch based were appearing in the high-end. For instance the much discussed Prada phone, which looks like an iPhone but was released 6 months earlier. Other models combined touch and buttons.

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: Comment by kfet
by MOS6510 on Fri 20th Dec 2013 11:25 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kfet"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

So you lost your stylus 95% of the time. :-p

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by kfet
by Carewolf on Fri 20th Dec 2013 12:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kfet"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

The iPhone was the first touchscreen phone operated by finger, it's one of the things that made it unique. People tend to forget how weird that looked the first time we've seen it. I remember I was not at all convinced it will work for me.


No, just no. That is wrong on so many levels. Where do you get that idea from, or are you making it up?

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: Comment by kfet
by JAlexoid on Sun 22nd Dec 2013 10:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kfet"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

That's wrong, but iPhone was the first one to be "focused on the finger".

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by kfet
by looncraz on Fri 20th Dec 2013 10:44 UTC in reply to "Comment by kfet"
looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

Touchscreen ... operated with a stylus.

One must be in quite a denial to not see how they had to start over.


What would that have to do with anything? The difference between using a finger vs a stylus is mostly about widget size and hit detection... and some consideration into what is most nature with a stylus vs a finger.

My Palm Treos were better with a stylus - and, of course, came with one, but I could use my finger for many purposes. The only time I needed to use a stylus was with a few specific applications (or to keep my screen clean ;-) ).

Reply Score: 9

Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

So, just to reiterate: touchscreen devices had always been part of Android, even during its initial stages at Google. Several different form factors were in development, but after the release of the iPhone, it made little sense to continue to focus on the BlackBerry-like device..


This is disingenuous and a false reading of what happened and what is revealed in the book (Fred Vogelstein’s Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution).

Here is your quote:

Within weeks the Android team had completely reconfigured its objectives. A phone with a touchscreen, code-named Dream, that had been in the early stages of development, became the focus. Its launch was pushed out a year until fall 2008. Engineers started drilling into it all the things the iPhone didn't do to differentiate their phone when launch day did occur.


Here is the preceding paragraph.

Rubin and the Android team - along with many others- did not think users would take to typing on a screen without the tactile feedback of a physical keyboard. That is why the first Android phone -the T-Mobile G1 from HTC, nearly two years later - had a slide-out keyboard. But what was also undeniable to the Android team was that they had under estimated Jobs. At the very least, Jobs had come up with a new way of interacting with a device-with fingers instead of a stylus or dedicated buttons-and likely a lot more. “We knew that Apple was going to announce a phone. Everyone knew that. We just didn’t think it would be that good,” said Ethan Bear. one of Android’s early development executives.


Here is another quote from the book:

By January 2007, they’d [Google;s Android team] all worked sixty-to-eighty-hour weeks for fifteen months—some for more than two years—writing and testing code, negotiating soft­ware licenses, and flying all over the world to find the right parts, suppliers, and manufacturers. They had been working with proto­types for six months and had planned a launch by the end of the year . . . until Jobs took the stage to unveil the iPhone.

Chris DeSalvo’s reaction to the iPhone was immediate and visceral. “As a consumer I was blown away. I wanted one immediately. But as a Google engineer, I thought ‘We’re going to have to start over.’”


And this on Andy Rubin’s reaction:

On the day Jobs announced the iPhone, the director of the Android team, Andy Rubin, was six hundred miles away in Las Vegas, on his way to a meeting with one of the myriad handset makers and carriers that descend on the city for the Consumer Electronics Show. He reacted exactly as DeSalvo predicted. Rubin was so astonished by what Jobs was unveiling that, on his way to a meeting, he had his driver pull over so that he could finish watching the webcast.

“Holy crap,” he said to one of his colleagues in the car. “I guess we’re not going to ship that phone.”


The impression you are seeking to create Thom is that Google had a number of phones under development and the impact of the iPhone announcement was just a limited rejigging of project priorities, a mere change of focus amongst several simultaneous and more or less equal streams of work. That is not what happened. Somewhere in the expanding Android team someone was tinkering with touch screens, this is Google after and a lot of tinkering goes on, but the overwhelming bulk of the Android team's work up until the iPhone announcement was focussed on delivering a phone and OS that looked and worked nothing like an iPhone. Immediately after the iPhone announcement the focus completely shifted towards delivering a phone and OS that looked and worked just like an iPhone (of course the Android team thought that could improve on the iPhone design - what design team doesn't think that about existing designs).

It's true that all the components of the iPhone and of modern phone OS design were in place by the time the actual iPhone was created such as basic touchscreen UI technology concepts and HD (for the time) capacitive touch screens, but no consumer product running a polished and powerful computing OS had had market success using these technologies, there had been no breakthrough product. Eventually someone, and it could have been someone in the Google team, would have come up with a breakthrough touchscreen OS and handset but it was the iPhone that was the actual breakthrough product, the one that changed the paradigm for everyone working in the handset industry.

It's pretty obvious that the iPhone changed the phone industry and the design of all subsequent successful phones (those that did not adopt the iPhone design motif failed in the market place), as it is equally obvious that the iPad changed the tablet and computing industry and the design of all tablets. Why such an obvious and self evident piece of recent tech history is disputed or played down is beyond me but clearly the idea that product innovation at Apple fundamentally changed all subsequent handset and tablet design is challenging for some.

The 'Dogfight book' is good BTW at the beginning not only on the development process of the iPhone and Android, and the important strategic road forks they each took, but also on how the Apple-Google relationship floundered and then soured. Unfortunately the last third of the book is very poor, meandering and little more than the rehashing of current superficial tech reporting tropes. It has also most nothing to say about Rubin's departure which is shame.

Reply Score: 1

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

I'm sorry Tony, but again the words are not definitive and you are twisting them to your own PoV.
The article says that there were many devices that they were working on. And I bet that the BB like device was the closest to completion.
PS: The quote about the keyboard and touchscreen typing? That's barely an indicator either way, since HTC's G1 had both touchscreen oriented UI and a keyboard.

Reply Score: 3

Moving on
by wocowboy on Fri 20th Dec 2013 12:43 UTC
wocowboy
Member since:
2006-06-01

Big whoop, several companies were developing touch-screen and stylus-enabled phones 7 years ago, not a surprise. Apple released the iPhone to market first. The other manufacturers then redoubled their efforts and in some cases copied Apple and released their devices. After 7 years, trying to manufacture other scenarios just doesn't work, you need to move on. Like it or not, he iPhone was the first to market, that's a fact. And the only one that matters.

Something that is of a bit of concern to me is the fact that recently, the source for everything Thom has posted on OSNews has been The Verge. I read The Verge every day, along with OSNews, so when I see a post here and click the source link to find out more, if it takes me directly to a post on The Verge where I would find the same article soon enough, I question the need to look at OSNews at all any more. Something to think about.

Edited 2013-12-20 12:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Moving on
by robmv on Fri 20th Dec 2013 14:46 UTC in reply to "Moving on"
robmv Member since:
2006-08-12

Meaningful conversations instead of trolling? at least trolls here try to sound realistic ;)

Edited 2013-12-20 14:46 UTC

Reply Score: 2