I was surprised to hear of recent confirmed reports that Apple confronted Google management and insisted that they refrain from implementing a similar "Multi-Touch" UI feature in their Android device OS -- or else. Not wanting to harm their relationship with the company, Google relented, and released Android without the feature.
Naturally, I have a whole bunch of problems with this.
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Firstly is the sheer audacity of Apple to demand of anyone producing a competing device or system that it has some exclusive right to Multi Touch technology -- if you read the Wikipedia article on Multi Touch, you would see that Microsoft is using this technology in Surface which will be integrated in 7, and the UI interaction methods were documented as far back as 1983 at Bell Labs. The only thing Apple can truly claim is they used it in a smartphone device first, but I hardly think that they would win any protracted litigation based on prior art. The newly announced Linux WebOS-based Palm Pre also uses Multi Touch, and Apple has recently been rattling sabers that perhaps some litigation may be in the future with the company.
Palm, of course, is hardly prepared from a financial perspective to be assaulted by the Infinite Loop iAttorneys -- they've recently stated that they believe they have no patent issues to resolve with the company, but everyone is expecting for the shoe to drop. However I seriously doubt Apple would actually have the balls to follow through with a long protracted litigation against a much larger company with litigators to match, such as Microsoft or Google.
I'm disappointed that Google bent over backwards for Apple and stunted Android's capabilities -- mainly because I know that Apple will not stop at Multi-Touch when it comes to some perceived exclusivity they have on any technology or look and feel. I mean, what's to stop them from saying that the Android Store resembles the iPhone App Store too much in a future release? Or that Android's music player is evolving too quickly and threatens the iPod? Exactly where do you draw the line? When do these demands stop? Clearly, the more popular that Android gets, the more pressure Apple is going to put on Google to make some feature less compelling or not as good as one of their products.
If I were Google's senior management, I would nip any further complaints and bullying from Apple in the bud and tell them in my best New Jersey, Tony Soprano accent to go shove theirup their collective asses, starting with their ailing CEO in absentia.
I would further elaborate on this creative use of the iPhone with a caveat that any further threats would be met with an immediate cessation of the development of native iPhone applications by Google, such as the yet-to-be-released iPhone version of Google Maps with the integrated Latitude function, as well as cessation of all activities to optimize Google's web properties for the iPhone's embedded Safari browser. Boy, that would make Apple iPhone commercials a lot less interesting.
"If you want to go find a Chinese restaurant within 500 feet away from you which serves Kung Pao Gai Ding... theres an app.. oh $%&@, there is no app for that anymore."
But perhaps what Apple underestimates the most is the resilience and intolerance of the Developer community to bullying. Apple also forgets that unlike the iPhone, the Android environment is completely open source, so it would be fairly easy for a carrier or device manufacturer to add extensions into Android to implement multi-touch in their applications, by virtue of being able to alter the OS to their specific needs, or if the community creates a modular extension architecture to allow for plug-in modules to do whatever Google leaves out for fear of Apple reprisal.