Over the years, we've seen tech companies imitate one another until it became a sort of joke. The Linux faithful can attest to this (seeing their advancements and innovations stolen as if they were nothing more than apples to pick from a tree). Now, it seems that Android has become the target for others to "borrow" from and claim "Look what we did!"
iOS 8 was announced recently, and some of the bits and pieces that make up Apple's new mobile platform look strangely familiar. Tell me if any of this reminds you of another mobile operating system:
- Hands-free use
- App-to-app communication/sharing
- Predictive typing and third-party keyboard support
- Convergence (Apple calls this Continuity)
- Family sharing
- Interactive notifications
- Send audio and video in messages
- Cloud photo storage
There's plenty more where that came from.
Some of you may be thinking that this sounds like a perfect storm of iOS and Android. You may be right. And we all know it seems "all is fair" when it comes to "creating" new features for a release. But I want you to think of it in reverse.
What would happen is Android "borrowed" features from Apple?
You know the answer to that. In fact, it's already happened, and Apple sued Samsung. Apple won patent infringement cases that included:
- The "bounce back" effect when scrolling to the end of a list
- The pinch-to-zoom patent (the feature that enables users to zoom in and out of an image by touching the screen and pinching or expanding their fingers)
- Using a double tap to zoom into and center content
- The home screen GUI
- Contours on the back of the iPhone
All I can do is shake my head. Why? Samsung re-invents a wheel and gets sued. Apple does the same thing and smiles all the way to the bank. That's why I have a problem with this whole issue. It's not the borrowing of ideas or tweaking a cool feature and calling it your own — it's the audacity of suing a company for something you know you will turn around and do yourself.
Let's face it — both iOS and Android have some amazing features. An amalgamation of the two would make for an outstanding platform. Eventually, I can imagine Apple borrowing enough of Android's best features that this mythical perfect mobile platform might become a reality. When it happens, I would bet Apple will lay claim on every possible patent it can to avoid absolute disaster.
Apple is smart to borrow from the most widespread platform on the planet. As it does, it might want to remember that the "owner" of Android, Google, was also recently titled the most popular brand on the planet. With that title comes a power Google might not have previously had. In fact, one of the biggest curiosities surrounding this bit of theatre is why hasn't Apple sued Google? There could be a very simple answer to that question. Outside of advertising revenue, Android doesn't produce any direct revenue for Google. Apple also knows it would be going up against an equally powerful foe in Google. However, that doesn't stop Apple from taking any manufacturer into the court to stop them from stealing "innovation."
Bold claim, Apple. Bold claim.
As I've said before, I'm not against companies borrowing innovations. Sometimes, a company gets something so right, it has to be used elsewhere. So borrow away... just don't turn around and sue when others borrow from you.
Do you think Google should turn around and sue Apple? Or does that perpetuate a precedent that should never have been set? And do you agree that innovation should be available for other companies to "borrow"? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.