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

On the left, a render of an Android phone from Google's initial SDK

On the left, a render of an Android phone from Google's initial SDK


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.”

Leaked documents reveal that Google changed its mind about touchscreen support on Android (on top is the 2006 draft is above, below it - the 2007 version

Leaked documents reveal that Google changed its mind about touchscreen support on Android (on top is the 2006 draft is above, below it - the 2007 version

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

1. AndroidStuff

Posts: 47; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Everyone Knows Android was a Copied Product of Apple/iOS

2. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

AGREED

43. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Nice article PA. It perfectly makes everyone believe that touchscreen was invented by apple and android is a rip off from ios. Lol.

53. superduper

Posts: 151; Member since: Oct 20, 2013

Single-finger operated, stylus operated, and resistive touch screens existed before the iPhone. Apple brought out a *workable* *multi-touch* touch screen that made additional hardware such as keypads and D-pads unnecessary. Then Google shifted its copycat target from Blackberry to iPhone. It's fair to say that Android and $amsung developers rode roughshod over much of Apple's hard work.

56. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Lg prada first *workable* touchscreen

66. superduper

Posts: 151; Member since: Oct 20, 2013

If it had a workable touchscreen, then why did LG have to include a slide-out keyboard underneath?

85. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Not very hard to comprehend. Some people were afraid to abandon physical keys in place of touch. I myself had wanted my first smartphone to contain both a physical keyboard and touch screen. Ultimately I abandoned that idea and went with something else. There is still a world out there consisting of people who prefer a physical keyboard although they are a minority. A lot of them are those that grew up on blackberry's and pda's.

87. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Because keyboards were all the rage during Black Berry's reign.

96. ibap

Posts: 865; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

Because those typing on glass seem to think they are e.e. cummings, and don't bother to edit what they've typed because it is a PITA.

111. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Same thing could be said for BB still using physical keyboards....to this day.

60. marlboro

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

Haters comments count starts now. Dont be jealous take it easy. Lol.

64. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Lololol nice one btw.

67. marlboro

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

haha! LMAO! +1 dude

61. regkilla

Posts: 87; Member since: Sep 13, 2012

U mad Fandroid?

65. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

U even more mad monk€y

86. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

My gosh, Victor H. we ALL have known this for years now. Black Berry was king at the time & Android was emulating Black Berry's success. Just so everyone knows, Apple didn't invent the touch screen phone, there were many touch screen phones out there. Windows Phone Mobile had touch screen phones with apps, WAY before the iPhone came out. Also let's not forget about Plam with it's awesome Treo's that were out during that time. Apple's iPhone was a rip off of the LG Prada that had the iPhone style BEFORE the iPhone even came out. So who indeed copied who...? Victor H. STILL starting the age old beef between Android & Apple. Can't we move on already... Just got a Taco50 & 530gemini flashback. lol +1

89. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Sorry... Windows Mobile, Not Windows Phone Mobile. lol

97. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Yeah those trolls were terrible during 2010-11.

103. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

Resistive != Capacitive. And since the Prada and the iPhone came out in the same year, it would be kind of difficult to "copy" one another. By the way, the Prada used FlashOS, which died with that handset.

104. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

And that the mistake many make....touch screen = touch screen tho. Touch screen phones have been out long before the iPhone. No where in his post or the article does it mention capacitive.

115. JC557

Posts: 1918; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

The LG Prada was shown long before the iPhone and it was the first mobile phone with a capacitive touchscreen. Not the first device to incorporate a capacitive touchscreen though. This is where the Apple fans start rewriting history.

117. domfonusr

Posts: 1073; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

Still, it was not the LG Prada that made the capacitive touchscreen experience popular... the iPhone still holds that place, despite earlier attempts at the same. Yes, some Apple fans attempt to rewrite history as they see it, but Android fans shouldn't be in the business of writing Apple out of theirs.

83. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

It was off of BB an WM that it born to compete, just so you know. The target is constantly moving forward, Unlike some.

14. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

No, I don't know.

20. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

In what way??? By supporting touchscreen?? that is known as competition...

36. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

It is but not like it wasn't anticipated. All the documents above show is that the times moved faster than Google anticipated and instead of sitting on their laurels they adapted. Regardless, I personally don't care what or how it came to be in this case, it is where it is at and where it is going that matters now.

41. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

Exactly that's what I'm saying...they saw competition doing good then they upped their ante... This is what competition is...

22. vincelongman

Posts: 5628; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

That's irrelevant now What matters is which OS is currently better And IMO that's Android by miles Everyone copies each other too kept the competition going Google have copied Apple/MS, Apple have copied Google/MS,... and same with all the other companies In the end, its us, the consumer, who get the benefits, so who cares who did it first

26. darkkjedii

Posts: 30836; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

In the court of law, in an infringement case that's not irrelevant, it's the point dude. This case is playing out in a court of law, so your HO doesn't matter. Since it's android by miles, then continue to support android, and let the jury do their job. "Who cares who did it first"? The jury does, when there's patents involved.

28. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

I remember you use to post same kind if things when you see apple is on the other side...

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