Some copycats are brazen thieves while other copycats are more subtle and discreet. Samsung has a reputation as a brazen copycat thief, has been sued by Apple and lost for copying designs to the atomic level. What about Google? Where do I start?
Copy? Or, Progress?
Ignoring for a moment that technology giants copy features and functions and designs from one another, allow me to draw a line in the digital sand and point out that the very basics of Google’s Android operating system is a brazen rip off of Apple’s original iPhone design. Fred Vogelstein, writing in The Atlantic back in 2013 captured a few choice quotes from Google engineers after Steve Jobs introduce iPhone to the public.
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.’
That came from Google engineer Chris DeSalvo who had been working on the Android project for six months and planned to launch a phone before the end of 2007. Jobs introduced iPhone in January of that year.
What we had suddenly looked just so… nineties. It’s just one of those things that are obvious when you see it.
To be fair, iPhone met with much criticism from the entire smartphone industry who mocked the design, denigrated Apple, and seemed overly haughty considered Steve Jobs’ record for disrupting a number of technology industries.
What Google did was the only thing the company could do. Google copied Apple. Not much has changed since those early days of the smartphone industry more than a decade ago. Yes, technology companies copy incessantly, but few are as brazen as Google. Android owes its very existence to Steve Jobs and the iconic iPhone design.
That was then and this is now and Google carries forth the company’s famed
design prowess copycat ways against iPhone X. Android P is due to ship later this year, probably just before iPhone XI and iOS 12 ship in late summer or early autumn. What will Android smartphones look like?
We know already. Android makers have gone all copycat on iPhone X’s much maligned Notch design. Meanwhile, Google saw the future– again– so Android P will have a bunch of new features. Can you guess where you’ve seen such features before?
Goodbye buttons, hello gestures.
iPhone X did away with the iconic Home button. Most Android smartphones have similar Home-like buttons on the bottom of their screens, and Android P will help make them go away thanks to a bunch of gesture functions. As it works with Samsung and other tech gadget makers, copycat designs help Google to keep their R&D expenses low because all that’s required is to watch what Apple does and do that. In a year or two. Or, in this case, perhaps three or four, because the way Android works is to take three or four years before the latest Android OS version reaches the majority of customer’s phones, while Apple does it with iOS in a year.
Copy that, Google.