• Android fanfare - Apple copies Google?

    Its been less than 24 hours since Apple released details of its iOS5, Lion and iCloud offerings and already there are plenty of webpages out from the Android fanboys claiming ripoff and ranting more than a bunch of sports supporters after losing the final. Just do a search for "Apple copied Android" and you'll find a host of headlines ranging from a variety of publications. After seeing a couple of articles, most of which are filled with more crap than a politician's speech, I decided it was time to respond.

    Its a little ironic that Android users would feel it appropriate to call out Apple for copying when Android is really just a "iOS for everyone else" or "iOS for Apple Haters looking for a 'honest' company to justify their hatred of Steve" but we'll forgive for that. Android would never have existed if it werenít for iOS and its fair to say that iOS virtually moulded Android to what it is today. iOS changed the market, Android followed iOS first. More ironic is when they claim handset vendors features as Android features and then pretend they're all grouped under the same banner of Google Android innovation when in reality the individual handset providers are fighting just as hard for their piece of the Android pie and would be willing to sue whoever they need to in order to protect it. Itís like Microsoft claiming the innovation for Dell's new keyboard and IBM jumping up and down in the fight against Apple pretending its also theirs.

    Its important to remember that there are a number of components we find in phones today which are logical progression of the movement from Desktop to Laptop to Mobile that no one can lay claim to. Any feature currently offered on a PC/Mac that is likely to be ported to phones and tablets at some point in the near future does not really qualify as massive innovation unless you can change the way users interact with the data because it doesn't take a whole heap of innovation to think "Hey, we have that on our PC, lets put it on the phone". We've seen porting of everything from email to photo apps and movie editing apps but the big innovation is shown in how you present that to the user. Windows had the tablet, Apple reinvented the tablet, Google copied the tablet.

    The Android fans are blaming Apple for copying Android features which Android copied and can't even lay claim to. If we start with core functionality, then we could really say that every phone manufacturer copied someone. Every phone that has a camera, SMS, address book, musical ringtones or even an alarm clock copied it from someone because ultimately someone in the beginning thought "Hey, I've got an idea, lets send text messages instead of calling so my wife canít hear I'm in the pub".

    When it comes to some of the more recent features like notifications, Android can't lay claim to innovation, phones like Nokia and some of the Windows phones had these long before Android even joined the ranks of conceptual ideas. The fact that Android were at the top and iOS's were in the middle related solely to UI design. If you have one item, you put it in the middle, if you have 20, you start them at the top and then move down but it seems the Android fanboys are so wrapped up in their Jobs hate match they forgot to think about basic UI design elements like this.

    I could sit here all night covering some of the points they made like:

    BBM - iChat for mobile and they brought in their own version of video calling so why wouldn't text make sense?
    Newstand - There are plenty of apps for iOS that do this already
    Wireless Syncing - Available on desktops so itís logical progression and one that iOS users have been complaining about without having even seen Android
    Tabbed Browsing - Available on desktop so itís to logical progression to mobile
    Opening Apps from the Lock Screen - Its been there for ages and if Android users werenít so obsessed with your little Android mini-world they would have noticed. Double click button and iTunes option appears while still in locked mode so this is an extension. What were they expecting with the next iOS, less functionality or did they forget this isnít Windows?

    The reality looking back is that Google has only a handful of innovations in their phones, the balance are also copied from previous phones in some form or are desktop applications ported to mobile. Their app store was a copy of the Apple App store, their music store was a copy of the iTunes music store and most of their features on their phones have been seen on a 100 phones before them. The Apple wireless music sync functionality will probably still be out of Beta before the Google one is which shows you who really started working on their first. The single greatest innovation in smartphone technology was the interaction with the phone using your finger on a touch screen and they couldn't even innovate on that. Android's so called open platform is slowly becoming closed as they realise the problem with fragmentation which is exactly why Apple went the way they did. But like Apple, Google still has some unique innovation as can be seen by their work with Google maps and they never copy, just have a look at Google TV, integrating with exercise equipment and song genius functionality at their 2011 I/O conference...oh wait...

    Image credit: Obama Pacman
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