Android watch out; Apple finally granted patent for iOS user interface

Things are getting interesting. The smartphone world has copied Apple, and yesterday Apple was granted a patent for a mobile user interface that comprises patent applications going all the way back to 2007. At a time when smartphone makers were covering their phones with buttons and more buttons, Apple was imagining a phone without buttons and a multitouch interface and all the other features that are now so familiar. Steve Jobs hated the fact that Android had copied Apple, and earlier this year CEO Tim Cook said "From our point of view, it's important that Apple not be the developer for the world. We can't take all of our energy and all of our care and finish the painting, then have someone else put their name on it."

Already there have been patent lawsuits between Apple and other phone manufacturers, notably Samsung and Motorola. And now Apple has the key patent that could clinch the deal. Steve Jobs wanted to just make Android go away. That hardly seems possible at this juncture, and Tim Cook isn't quite as bellicose. Perhaps Apple will ultimately strike some sort of licensing deal, whereby Apple gets payment for every Android phone sold. You can read more on CNNMoney.

Even more interesting is the tidbit that has emerged as a result of one of the depositions in the ongoing patent war. A photograph of a prototype iPad dating back to 2002–2004 has emerged, and Apple designer Jony Ive has confirmed that Apple had designed an iPad way back then. In the photo, it pretty much resembles in back and front of the iPad released in 2010, except that it's thicker. You can read more and see more photos on NetworkWorld.

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So why did it take so long for the iPad to come out? That's another fascinating part of the story. The article says that once Steve Jobs saw the interface, he loved it and immediately realized it would be a perfect interface for a phone. So development of the iPad was put on hold, and work on the iPhone got under way.

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Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.