Google's Android did not have touchscreen support - until after the iPhone launched

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform has grown into the world's most popular smartphone operating system, but before Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced the iPhone in 2007 it did not support touchscreen inputs, according to court documents.

The documents were revealed as part of Apple's current patent-infringement trial against Samsung Electronics, the largest Android smartphone maker.

As Re/code notes, in 2006 Android was based on Linux 2.6, and did not support touchscreens, which have since become ubiquitous. Google was confidentially showing Android off to prospective hardware partners.

"Touchscreens will not be supported," Google said in a 2006 specification for Android devices. "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." Some Android touchstones, including support for widgets and third-party applications, were already present in the Android specification.

Apple introduced the iPhone in January 2007 and started selling it that June. By November 2007, Android had switched course, and a Google documents states that "a touchscreen for finger-based navigation--including multi-touch capabilities–is required." Google introduced the first Android phone, the G1 made by HTC, in September 2008.

As The Verge notes, Samsung is calling Google executives to testify during the trial possibly as an attempt to show that that many of the features in its phones, including some that are on being contested by Apple, were designed by Google and not Samsung. It's not suspiring that Google is aiding Samsung; the patent battles between Apple and Samsung have been widely seen as a proxy fight between Apple and Google. Further, in January Google and Samsung forged a wide-ranging, patent-licensing deal that covers the companies' existing patent portfolios and all patents they will each file over the next 10 years.

Apple rested its case on Friday and is seeking $2.2 billion in damages, a figure Samsung highly disputes. Samsung is now presenting its case and the trial is expected to last several more weeks.

For more:
- see this Re/code article
- see this separate Re/code article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Engadget article

Related Articles:
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Reports: Samsung, Apple execs unable to reach settlement, will continue legal battle in March
Google, Samsung strike cross-licensing patent deal
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Apple wins $290M in new patent infringement verdict against Samsung

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