Did you know that ​before the iPhone was announced Android did not support touchscreen input?


Support for touchscreen input was not a part of Android in the form the operating system had before Apple unveiled the original iPhone in early 2007. The latest legal spat between Samsung and Apple brings new revelations about the history of Google’s operating system, revelations coming from the highly confidential Android Software Functional Requirements from July 6, 2006. The document, meant to inform hardware makers about the platform, explicitly states that Android at the time required a physical numeric keypad with 5-way navigation buttons, and does NOT support touchscreens.

“Touchscreens will not be supported,” Google writes in a 2006 Android device specification document. “The product was designed with the presence of discrete physical buttons as an assumption. However, there is nothing fundamental in the products architecture that prevents the support of touchscreens in the future.”

In a revealing change of course, just a year or so after that 2006 document was published, the same document evolves from the 0.91 version to the finalized 1.0. There, the software functional requirements for Android take a U-turn: point 3.11.2 in the Android Software Functional Requirements v1.0 dated November 10th, 2007, now states the following:

“A touchscreen for finger-based navigation - including multi-touch capabilities - is required. Stylus-based navigation is not supported.”

Obviously, this radical change in course for Android happens just after the official launch of the original Apple iPhone.

Those early documents about the Android system show a lot of other extremely curious details like the fact that Android planned to use Microsoft’s FAT32 file system. This would later lay in the very foundation of hardware makers facing legal trouble, and being forced to pay huge license fees to Redmond. You can see the leaked documents in their entirety at the source links right below.

source: Android Software functional requirements (2006 version, 2007 version) via Recode

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120 Comments

118. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

Did you know that touch screens were considered impractical before the iPhone was released, and that it would be absurd for Android to support such a thing before it was feasible?

114. HildyJ

Posts: 346; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Not that fanbois or fandroids care but Treo was shipping touchscreen enabled smartphones using Palm OS and Windows Mobile years before the iPhone or Android.

112. domfonusr

Posts: 1106; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

Yes, it is true that Apple's iPhone and iOS inspired a redesign of Android, but that doesn't have to equate to Google being a "copycat." All sorts of things are inspired by competition. It is good to have choices. Just because the iPhone inspired Android's 2007 redesign doesn't mean that Android is a blatant rip off of iOS. Android can't be a blatant rip off of iOS: iOS has the UNIX-based Darwin kernel, and the Android kernel is Linux-based - two entirely different beasts, software-wise. Yeah, the UI's keep copying off of each other in various parts (that door has swung both ways), but the UI is not the entire OS in either case.

113. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Thank you... Even taking a peek in the Setting areas....shows two different beasts. Android has looked ...a lil....more like iOS lately with the sliders...even then its designed different. I have been saying that for years....the UI isnt the entire OS. Hate brings out some very one sided views.

110. DigitalJedi_X unregistered

PA has been trolling for page hits for quite some time now. As evidenced by all of its bias reporting and flame war inciting articles like this one.

109. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

The Bible didn't support Christ until version 2.0.

120. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I literally laughed out loud....thanks... :-)

107. 1ceTr0n

Posts: 549; Member since: May 20, 2012

Holy farking click bait PA. Now you are utterly trolling for page hits.

106. vijaysivakula

Posts: 229; Member since: Aug 17, 2011

Nokia had a camera on their mobiles much much before Apple made a phone or even put a camera on them. Should Nokia sue Apple for that? What if I say that Apple decided to put a camera on their mobiles after getting the idea from Nokia? Who is to dispute that? How can you prove me wrong? I have made the accusation. I dont have to prove anything. You have to prove you are innocent.

100. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

Actually, it was because of the release of capacitive touch screens that caused the change. No one would release a touch screen phone with resistive technology like that, it doesn't translate to a good user experience. When capacitive touch screens became available, everyone shifted to them for the bulk of releases. Just because Apple was one of the first to pick up on the technology doesn't mean all those who followed copied Apple. This whole copy mindset has been fostered and fed by tech sites and certain lawyers to justify an end to their bias. Emerging technologies need to get more credit instead of who used them first.

105. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Well said. I wonder....where there any copying claims in mobile phones before the iPhone launched? Pretty sure some could say the same about Palm and Win Mo... How come this is so repeated and regurgitated now...

98. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

So? Everybody uses touch screens now and everybody uses toilet paper now. I don't care if Royale started it or charmin. Trends start and people follow but it doesn't mean one person or company has the rights to sue everyone that follows. It has to be like an exact copy to be illegal an in the US it seems like anything that is even a remote semblance to the original is grounds for a lawsuit according to stupid Yankees. Evolution doesn't pay royalties to natural selection. It just happens.

90. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

It's not a very hard concept to understand. Companies compete with each other. When a company comes out with something new and different, their competition will try to offer something similar to it. If things didn't go that way, commonplace things like antilock brakes, remote controls, microwaves, etc would be available by one company, and they'd have a monopoly on it.

94. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I am just so glad Apple isnt in any other markets. Let them stay in the PC, software field.

82. Mr.Mr.Upgrade

Posts: 474; Member since: Aug 30, 2011

Who writes this trash without doing research?In 1993, the IBM Simon - the first touchscreen phone - was released. Smdh phone arena this is why your site is garbage stop letting none usa people do your writing

93. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Yea...see some, maybe many people think touch screen means non stylus. All Apple did was a capacitive touch screen that didnt use a stylus...and technically they still werent first. First to make it popular....but not first overall.

80. shaheer7

Posts: 22; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

All the haters of samsung will have to accept a bitter truth... that today samsung is on top.. samsung is the no 1 in terms of sale... hahaha.. ^_^

74. bossmt_2

Posts: 459; Member since: Oct 13, 2009

How is this news? This is well known. Infact there was a giant article about it in The Atlantic, from December of last year. As far as comparing the iPhone and Android of course the iPhone greatly impacted Android. And it for sure changed the course of Android rapidly. You have to remember Android was developed pre-anything resembling a quality smartphone era. It was built to compete with PalmOS and Blackberry OS. What a gigantic non-story.

72. AlanB412

Posts: 32; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

"However, there is nothing fundamental in the product's architecture that prevents the support of touchscreens in the future" Meaning Touchscreen Android had already been considered and probably ruled out. Fortunately they were smart and left their options open by making sure they could still easily support it later on if the tides changed. Not so much copying as it was good business sense if you ask me.

95. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Dont bring logic into this!!!!!! Especially the fact that they went to touch screen very quickly. If they never intended it at all......we might have seen a Win Mo to WP type of delay. But lets not bring logic and reason into this......lets just live by everybody copies Apple....

71. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

What ever, they've a billion users that don't give a crap who invented the tech they use daily. The masses use what works best for them, sadly for the trolls, its not their chosen draw bridge software.

70. skyline88

Posts: 702; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

many butthurt comments by iNaivefanboys

54. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

So which file system did they use instead?

49. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Funny how people see Android as a copy when Steve Jobs openly admitted to copying other companies' ideas...I call that....IRONY. Apple should just shut up and focus on catching up to Android, because someday, the iZombies in the United States will wake up and realize that they have been fooled by Apple into over spending for a product that is, in fact, not so very premium....

63. quakan

Posts: 1419; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

Here in the US we don't overspend for the iPhone. It costs the same as most other flagships on contract. Most of us only pay the subsidized price of the phone via our carrier so your average consumer doesn't see a price difference.

75. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Really most android flagships on-contract cost $200-$300. While usable(64gb) iphone cost about $400. Dont forget that most android flagships have microSD slot.

92. engineer-1701d unregistered

i have friends that have opened there eyes and it took the note 3 for them to see and wow do they thank me now it took 2 years of telling them they have a base phone that cant do anything really.

44. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Another 'piece of junk' article...courtesy of Phone arena....

91. engineer-1701d unregistered

but they know the only way to sell a article is to say something like this, just like pitbull attacks on 11 news tonight they dont mention anything about the millions of non pit attacks because they wont sell.

34. jellmoo

Posts: 2699; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I think the problem was that Eric Schmidt sat on the Apple board of directors when Android underwent the design change that made it "more like iOS". Steve Jobs took it personally. (not making any argument one way or another here, just stating why I think it is as big an issue as it has become)

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