A number of internal Google documents have recently come to light during the current legal proceedings between Apple and Samsung. They show how, before the arrival of the iPhone in 2007, Android phones were very simple, had no touch screen and only had a function to run Java . However, the advent of the iPhone turned the mobile phone market upside down and gave a radical change opening a path that has evolved at a rapid pace until today.
In these documents belonging to Google we see how the original plans for the development of Android were very different before the arrival of the iPhone. When Apple presented its smartphone in 2007, these plans changed radically in order to compete with the new device launched by the Californian company, since until that moment Java was what allowed more functions to be added to simple phones . Therefore, the arrival of the first smartphone with a touch screen and a new operating system brought a big change.
The first draft of an Android phone is dated 2006, one year before the arrival of the iPhone. In the data provided by Google we see that it was a phone with a physical keyboard with numeric keys , Home, navigation keys, etc. If we look back we see how it is a keyboard very similar to the Windows Mobile phones of the moment , since one of Google’s intentions was to start competing with such devices.
Google did not support touch screens
One of the things that catches our attention in these documents is that Google states that they would not support touch screens and would bet on the presence of physical keys. Surely the guys from Mountain View did not imagine that soon they would have to change their way of thinking and that several years later Android touchscreen devices would be very present in the smartphone market.
On the other hand, the platform or operating system they planned to use on that Android phone had not made much progress either. Android would be compatible with the Java Platform and Micro Edition (Java ME) . In addition, Android would have a simple widget that would allow the display of weather forecasts, sports scores and OPIs. Finally, the original Android had support for a WAP browser, music and photo management .
And Steve Jobs arrived with his iPhone
That’s how Google approached Android in 2006. However, in 2007 Steve Jobs took to the stage to introduce the iPhone , the first smartphone on the market that came with iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system designed for this device. By the time the iPhone arrived, Android had not been shown in public although Google had launched the operating system about a year earlier.
During the presentation of the iPhone, Jobs announced that it was a device that provided advanced functions and a new, modern and striking user interface, which made all other devices on the market at that time seem prehistoric. On the other hand, the multi-touch screen , the possibility of zooming in on photos, an Internet browser similar to the one on the computer or the possibility of having our favourite songs all on the same device was very appealing. Shortly afterwards, they also added the possibility of installing applications of any kind thanks to the App Store, their app store.
From that moment on Google’s plans for Android changed radically from trying to make a device similar to a BlackBerry or Windows Phone to having to follow Apple’s steps to launch a device similar to the iPhone. Thus, in the documents we see that already in September 2007 Google begins to make changes and improvements in Android to get a more advanced operating system and support for touch screens.
Google reacted quickly to this unexpected turn
The engineers also worked on improving and radically changing the browser’s user interface. Also features were added such as an email manager that were not previously in Google’s plans. Even the media section was changed to add more features and functions.
For Rubin, Google’s CEO at the time, it was essential that the company was not only inspired by Apple’s iPhone because of its touch screen, but also because of the features it incorporated such as the multimedia area and the web browser. And let’s remember that Steve Jobs presented the iPhone as a 3-in-1 device : a phone, an iPod and a device for surfing the Internet.
As our colleagues from iPhone Italy say, the first version of Android was released at the end of October 2008 , but the multi-touch support did not reach Google’s operating system until Android 2.0 version, one year later.