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Early Android developer talks how the team had to 'start over' when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Early Android developer talks how the team had to 'start over' when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone
Chris DeSalvo, one of Android's co-creators, confirmed that when they saw what Apple did with the first iPhone, the team immediately realized it has to start over.

Chris was working together with Andy Rubin at Danger, before Microsoft acquired that. Google then scooped their offshoot Android project to develop its own mobile OS, and by the time Apple announced iOS and the original iPhone in 2007, Android, it seems, had been already two years in development. What Google's Android team had concocted at the time in terms of hardware, was something more akin to BlackBerry phones, as you can see in the thumb image, rather than built for a touch-centric new mobile OS like Apple's.

By January 2007, they’d 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.

The Sooner project that Google has been working on so far was superior in terms of software flexibility, as it had its own web browser and Google's apps, its own app store API, and was meant to be independent of the hardware platform it will be run on, but the prototype phone itself, had nothing to do with the user-friendly iPhone.

Thus in the aftermath of the Steve Jobs announcement in 2007, Andy Rubin went on record saying "“Holy crap, I guess we’re not going to ship that phone,” referring to the Sooner project, that you can see in the slideshow below. The rest is history, and although Android was born with the launch of the G1, which still had a keyboard, that ship has irreversibly sailed nowadays, and we have Apple to thank or blame for that. “We knew that Apple was going to announce a phone. Everyone knew that. We just didn’t think it would be that good,” comments Ethan Beard, one of Android’s business development execs at the time.

It turns out that Google had a touchscreen phone prototype in the works, too, codenamed Dream, but deemed interacting with it too forward-thinking for the general public just yet, just like Nokia did, and too risky to put resources into. That notion was completely turned on its head by Steve Jobs, and Google fast-tracked the touchy-feely phone a year or so, to launch something that was a mixture of the Sooner and Dream projects, at the same time trying to implement the things Apple didn't do with the first iPhone as an added value in the G1.


source: TheAtlantic

56 Comments
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posted on 20 Dec 2013, 07:58 11

1. Sire3008 (Posts: 87; Member since: 26 Sep 2013)


New way of saying "we copied" right?

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:24 8

9. ihavenoname (Posts: 1506; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)


Maybe yes, maybe no. But copying or not, good thing that they changed plan. (It became a pretty damn succesfull and damn good eventually.)

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:20 2

29. lilhart (Posts: 21; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)


Innovation can be incremental or disruptive. Copying as you name it, might be one way of looking at it. Even Jobs didn't invent computers. Even then he is called one of the greatest innovators and I agree.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:43 4

34. sprockkets (Posts: 1316; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


If we ignore the fact that both the FIC openmoku and Prada beat apple to it, yes.

Apple wants us all to believe they were the only one smart enough to come up with the iphone. They weren't. Bad enough idiots think apple invented the mp3 player.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:38 8

44. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


I have used all the major operating systems. I use Android as my daily driver. All three have their pros and cons. Android is the best for me. But iOS and WP are great too. My brother absolutely loves WP but hates Android.

I don't care who copied whom. The entire world copied China for paper, UK for industries and Nature to build robots. Heck even we learnt to read and write by copying our elders. Copying is all about accepting that someone is better. But that doesn't mean we can't be good or even great. iPhone wasn't the first touchscreen phone. But Apple copied the right stuff from the right people. Add a bit of useful stuff and they succeeded.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:01

48. wilsong17 (Posts: 1070; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)


well who care look were we at 80 worldwide

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:05 2

2. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2817; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


But anyways a great effort, hard work and invention too.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:12 9

3. Zylam (Posts: 99; Member since: 20 Oct 2010)


Ahhhh Android copied iOS? Daniel P, the Android breathing preteens here will wet the bed and not be able to sleep for 10 years now, as their religious beliefs have been ruined.

So Android first tried to copy BB, than copied iOS. LMAO.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:17 12

5. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Android fans don't need to get mad at this, everyone need to know that if there's no iPhone, there will be no smartphone. Just be happy with the OS you're using, folks!

P.s. I'm not helping Apple.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:17 6

6. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


See thats the issue with iphone users they think everyone should drop their own wants to go with what they want and nothing else.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:26 3

10. illusionmist (Posts: 125; Member since: 29 Jan 2013)


Usually I see more Android fanboys calling iPhone users "sheeep," saying that they "buy those toys just for the logo" than iPhone's laughing at people using Android, though.

Anyway just bear in mind all those idiots (on either side) represent only a small fraction of the users, and you'll instantly feel better.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:52 1

18. nexusdude (Posts: 151; Member since: 22 Aug 2013)


Yeah, because iPhone fans don't know what Android is... for real.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:09

49. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


You will see them in a ratio of 4:1 when market is dominated by Android in same ratio. Nothing unusual.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:28 2

11. ihavenoname (Posts: 1506; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)


Thats also problem with Android and WP fans, don't blame iPhone users. Really.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:45 2

16. WindowsiDroid (Posts: 116; Member since: 22 Jul 2013)


"everyone need to know that if there's no iPhone, there will be no smartphone." I guess you've forget the Nokia Symbian OS which is the first smartphone OS.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:58 6

20. EnigmaticPsychotic (Posts: 31; Member since: 26 Nov 2013)


Which wasn't very good by the way.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 09:01

21. jellmoo (Posts: 700; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)


Yeaaaaaaah, take a step back and re-think that statement dude.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 09:03 2

22. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Actually, the first smartphone was the IBM Simon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Simon

And yes, Nokia Symbian OS was the first smartphone OS. But, when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, phones have started to have touchscreen and they became the standard.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:14

27. elitewolverine (Posts: 1948; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)


"no iPhone, there will be no smartphone" no...

What they did was make smartphone OS dumb enough for the masses. At the time the iphone was around, Smartphone OS were for the geeks.

The concepts that people have today of flexibility, rom loading, etc etc were all foreign concepts to the masses uses 'normal phones'.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:03

46. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


Nokia and Microsoft foolishly copied the desktop to build a touchscreen UI. Apple did the right thing in building a new UI. Google just expanded onto their idea. But that doesn't mean Google did anything wrong.

posted on 23 Dec 2013, 16:53

56. lyndon420 (Posts: 1782; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


I wouldn't consider the iPhone to be a smartphone, but I see the point you are trying to make here. A smartphone was due to come out around the time the iPhone did...if apple didn't do it when they did, someone would have come along shortly after. Tablets, smartphones/tricorders etc where already conceived in science fiction movies from years earlier, it just took an OEM to eventually take the concept and bring it to life. When the iPhone came out I thought it was great, but I didn't jump on it right away because I knew something better was coming along....so glad I waited :)

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:15 2

28. sprockkets (Posts: 1316; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


Sure, if we ignore the fact that there was a capcitive touchscreen before the iphone called the prada and a multi touch one called the FIC openmoko...

Sure, we all copied the iphone!

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:39 3

33. 14545 (Posts: 1146; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


Apparently you can't read. Where does it say anything about android copying iOS? It specifically says they felt they needed to start over based on what Apple brought to the table.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:59 2

45. tedkord (Posts: 5130; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Daniel P. is just regurgitating a story from another site. There is a more recent story here now from an Android engineer which confirms a story from years ago that Android had two major prototypes in parallel development, the Sooner and the Dream. One was Blackberryish, the other was full touchscreen capable. They simply dropped the Sooner and went with the eventual G1, but it was being worked on in the beginning of 2006, a year before the iPhone.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:16 5

4. alterecho (Posts: 1091; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)


I'll bookmark this page for later use.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:35 2

31. sprockkets (Posts: 1316; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


Better bookmark this one too showing that the above wasn't the only prototype.

http://asia.cnet.com/an-early-look-at-googles-android-62034337.htm#1

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:34

43. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Yup. But for some reason that 2nd pic is always not found or overlooked in the fanboy battles.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:19 1

7. Trunks101880 (Posts: 4; Member since: 21 May 2012)


So sooner and dream....they combined both prototypes and came up with the G1. I would not say they copied...I would say Apple forced there hand for the better. All in all....instead of saying one is better then the other...cant we enjoy the fact we have kickass phones across the board?

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:23

8. Slammer (Posts: 1120; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)


The industry should've been on this earlier. Taking an ipod touch and adding phone capabilities, was too simple yet a huge move forward. Sometimes the simplest things that dont seem relevant, can be the best ideas. All you have many times, is a gut feeling. Go for it.

No doubt the first iphone was revolutionary.

John B.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:32 1

14. illusionmist (Posts: 125; Member since: 29 Jan 2013)


You got it mixed up... iPod touch is iPhone minus phone capabilities. It came later than the iPhone.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:29 1

12. REXTECH (Posts: 15; Member since: 04 Dec 2013)


Xerox. copying has cost .

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:30

13. taikucing (unregistered)


I want this first android phone.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:41

15. Yaldabaoth (Posts: 34; Member since: 06 Jun 2012)


Is that... ExtUSB?!

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:47 1

17. JMartin22 (Posts: 1242; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)


Creating a "standard" for a mobile operating system is Apple's only real legacy as far as handheld computational devices are concerned. However, today, they're largely outclassed when it comes to offering functionality AND simplicity. Now they're largely about catching up with real innovators on the firmware side and trying to litigate over menial reasoning. They're still good "trend setters" when it comes to making unusual or unorthodox things mainstream

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 08:54 11

19. darkkjedii (Posts: 12406; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


This is very interesting, to say the least. Android has come a long way, and no matter what people say (yes I'm talking to my fellow iOS users), iOS's recent advancements are there cuz googles been kicking apples butt In the lab. Both of these platforms have inspired each other, that much is obvious, but I feel that google has been pushing the envelope more so than apple. iOS 7 clearly shows that apple is feeling the heat, and I don't see apple resting on their laurels anymore. They can't afford to with el goog steadily pushing the envelope. I'm looking forward to the future of these two giants, and will continue to purchase devices from both. I'm darkkjedii, and I approve this message.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 09:24 4

23. protozeloz (Posts: 5379; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


At last! Common sense! Too bad this post will be ignored by most of the readers around here

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 09:59 2

25. Izoe (Posts: 114; Member since: 02 Sep 2010)


so true, great post

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:29 1

30. DaNTRoN (Posts: 135; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)


Plus 1. Unbiased account. X drives Y. Y, in return, drives X.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:57 1

36. JerryTime (Posts: 468; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


I but heads with DJ constantly, but he got a +1 on this from me. Great Post

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:02 1

38. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8841; Member since: 14 May 2012)


I, PapaSmurf, approve of this message also.

+1

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:26 1

39. darkkjedii (Posts: 12406; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Gotta give credit where it's due, as we say in the gym...android is beastin. To deny its contribution is silly. Thanx fellas

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 09:25

24. Sire3008 (Posts: 87; Member since: 26 Sep 2013)


What would've happened if Jobs patented the concept of touchscreen Smartphones? I guess we would've been worse off than we are today. Patents on the contrary impedes development unlike many think but I wouldn't deny the fact that it can encourage innovations(mainly theoretical because nothing moves forward without a standard)

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:00

26. Abo3amood (Posts: 7; Member since: 16 Nov 2013)


damn that looked like a calculator for a second. i wish if we had such advance android calculator nowadays

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:39 4

32. Sniggly (Posts: 7180; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


And of course crowing iOS fanboys won't bother reading the part where its said "yeah, we had a touchscreen prototype, but we didn't think anyone would want it yet." This only corroborates what I've always said; the only thing Google changed was to shift Android into a touch centric OS rather than dominated by a physical keyboard.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:31

42. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Exactly.....of course some ppl would totally overlook:

"It turns out that Google had a touchscreen phone prototype in the works, too, codenamed Dream, but deemed interacting with it too forward-thinking for the general public just yet, just like Nokia did, and too risky to put resources into. That notion was completely turned on its head by Steve Jobs, and Google fast-tracked the touchy-feely phone a year or so, to launch something that was a mixture of the Sooner and Dream projects, at the same time trying to implement the things Apple didn't do with the first iPhone as an added value in the G1."

Google had an all touch screen phone and BB like phone in the works. What some may not know is the BB like phone remained an Android developer phone well into 2010, maybe 2011.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:55 3

35. JerryTime (Posts: 468; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


Great great article, and you have to give credit where credit is due. Apple definitley pushed the envelope with the release of their original phone and mobile OS. I even carried the first 3 models. But, now Apple's "little brother" has grown out of Apple's shadow. Kudos to Google and the Android system, for taking a great product and making it that much better. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings in the mobile industry.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:28 1

40. darkkjedii (Posts: 12406; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


+1 to that JT.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 10:57

37. Lycan155 (Posts: 78; Member since: 24 Nov 2013)


Apple leads others follow

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:29 1

41. darkkjedii (Posts: 12406; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


A great leader has to also be a great follower though. (Ios7) is an example.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 13:42 1

47. bibekpachhai (unregistered)


Even though iPhone wasn't the first smartphone to be built, it was the first smartphone which was consumer friendly. It isn't complicated and can be used right out of the box. Same can be said about android but even though android is similar, apple took a risk and succeeded in it. I have always been an android user but I give that credit to Apple.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:23 2

50. 14545 (Posts: 1146; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)


What? WinMo wasn't difficult to use. It's only failing was that it didn't have an "app store". That was really apples only innovative feature. They put things(apps) where they were easy to find. With WinMo you had to go looking for apps. Other than that, I would say it was every bit as easy to use. Then apple knew how to market the heck out of it. I could do cut and paste on my winmo device long before apple even thought about incorporating it.

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