Portrait of the Google as a great artist
“So is Android a stolen product?” asks Timothy Lee of Ars Technica in “If Android is a ‘stolen product,’ then so was the iPhone.”
Seriously, you’re asking this? Yes, Android is a stolen product.
Twice over, actually. Before it looked and operated like a retarded iPhone, Android appeared to be a cross between Windows Mobile 6 and Blackberry. The creators behind Android have a long history of not creating anything.
The funny thing about Lee’s piece, though, is that he poses the question as if he’s going to explore the topic…
“Many researchers and companies invented technologies that predate the iPhone but made it possible.”
…then talks about touchscreens for most of the article.
“Indeed, what made the iPhone such a great product was precisely that Apple drew together a number of innovations already developed separately—touchscreen phones, capacitive touchscreens, sophisticated multitouch user interfaces—and combined them in a product greater than the sum of its parts. ”
Nope. Wrong. When you ask if Android is a stolen product, know that touchscreens are not the issue. If they were, there’d be no argument about “stolen products.”
Lee’s article is interesting in that it tracks the history and development of touchscreens (well, I found it interesting), but his underlying premise — that the touchscreen is what was stolen from Apple — is wrong.
No one is claiming Apple invented touchscreens or multitouch functionality. Apple isn’t, though it does claim patents for certain functionalities that improved multitouch screens. “Inventing something” and “improving something” are not the same — though you can patent both.
But concentrating on touchscreens permits Lee to employ an oft-used fandroid technique: Claim that Apple claims to have invented something, then point out that one aspect of technology was around before Apple invented it.
“Well, you know, Apple didn’t really invent the iPhone because there were already devices that transmitted your voice to distant points.”
Androids defenders tend to miss the forest for the withered, broken tree upon which their arguments hang like some ugly fruit.
The main point in the whole “who ripped off whom” is simply this:
Apple created and introduced what we now understand to be — and experience as — the modern smartphone.
It threw out inessential crap like hard buttons and extraneous sliders. It revolutionized battery life in high-power devices. It incorporated technology that understands how you’re holding a device so you don’t have to worry about, for example, switching from portrait to landscape displays. It designed an original yet intuitive interface that even the least tech-savvy person can understand immediately…
…the list goes on.
And the people behind Android copy-and-pasted the modern smartphone experience — the one that Apple created — into their OS.
Well, they tried anyway.
The Google as artist
No matter, apparently: Lee turns to another fandroid tactic: The “great artists steal” bit. (Seek it out and you’ll find a lot of references to the iPhone.)
Google is not an artist: Android is a poorly executed copy of an older, better OS.
Where’s the “artistry”? What makes Android better than the source it copied?
Some argue it’s “open” development environment is better for developers. But for consumers, not so much, as non-tech-type people who use Android soon find out. Not to mention the problem of malware (okay, there, mentioned it).
Android looks cheap, feels cheap, and per-per-perfffffooorrr — ah shit, stutters — like a cheap trick.
Android is to iOS as a grainy black-and-white xeroxed copy of Picasso’s “Guernica” is to the real thing…
“Apple copies toooooo!”
Lee then spends five paragraphs depicting how Apple has copied stuff from Android as well. Such as — DUNH DUNH — Notification Center.
Which happens to be the only example he points to — mainly because it’s the only thing fandroids can point to and say SEE IT GOES BOTH WAYS LOL WIN.
But it doesn’t. Android ripped off an entire OS and improved one small aspect of the experience it provides, which Apple then incorporated into the OS that was ripped off.
It’s like stealing a bag of peanuts and then yelling when the victim reaches into the bag to take one back.
But okay, let’s give you that one, fandroids — what does Apple get back from you?
And then there’s Windows 7
Some people have argued that Apple designs stuff so minimally, you can’t help borrowing from Apple if you design a competing product.
Which is bullshit. Try that line on Microsoft.
If Microsoft — the original gangster of the copy-and-paste approach to technology — can design a modern smartphone with a unique design and user experience, why can’t Google?
I’ve asked the question before. No one has answered it. Here’s the answer: Google’s intent was never to create something new or innovative. Google created Android to protect its advertising revenues. It didn’t matter to Google that its OS was an ugly, confusing, stuttering, over-powered battery suck — Google just wants your attention when you search.
If Windows 7 had been introduced before the iPhone, there’d be a poor imitation of the tiles UI running in Android today.
Funny thing, though: Lee’s article never talks about Windows 7 phone.