At the unveiling of Apple’s new flagship smartphone yesterday, the Iphone X, CEO Tim Cook dinner reported it was a little something the company’s employees experienced been doing work on for a 10 years.
The new high quality handset with its edge-to-edge display screen (minus a single unlucky major notch) does away with the bodily residence button totally and tends to make greater use of gestures for managing the UI.
The new interface for multitasking appears to be like fluid and intuitive. But it also — if you have been smartphone watching for long sufficient — engenders a distinct sensation of déjà vu…
Precisely it appears to be like relatively like webOS managing on the Palm Pre — a handset that was announced in 2009, following Jon Rubinstein, previous SVP of Apple’s iPod division, experienced been lured out of retirement in Mexico by Palm: A cellular unit enterprise with a (pretty) long heritage, and sufficient self-standpoint to know they necessary an knowledgeable item designer to assistance them surf the following wave of mobility: touchscreen computing.
Rubinstein, who experienced remaining Apple in spring 2006, obviously possessed the sought for structure chops. Palm execs flew down to Mexico to woo and gain their guy.
By the begin of 2009 Rubinstein was on phase at CES to announce the Palm Pre: A significant-gloss, pebble-shaped slider smartphone which deployed numerous gestures in the UI creating the most of a contact-delicate location that extended down below the display screen and on to the bezel alone.
It was not just the scroll-flicks and pinch-to-zooms already on the Iphone and Android devices of the time that Palm experienced brought above to its following-gen smartphone hardware. It experienced a little something else up its sleeve: Its webOS UI included a deck-of-cards activity interface to be the driver for lower friction cellular multitasking.
Palm confirmed how people could easily swipe in between and faucet on the cards to change applications. How the get of cards could be rearranged with a finger push and drag. And how unique cards could be flicked off the major of the display screen when the person was performed with a specific application or activity. Cards confirmed thoroughly lively applications. It was basic and classy.
“Now how’s that for some serious newness,” reported Matías Duarte, Palm’s senior director of human interface and person experience, with a fairly sizable smirk on his facial area as he wrapped up that component of the Pre’s CES demo.
(Duarte now performs on Google’s card-like Substance Layout structure language, which extends the card motif the enterprise 1st made use of in Android, for Google Now, in 2012 and he went straight from Palm to becoming a VP of structure at Android when the aspect was becoming developed.)
In an earnings phone later on the exact same month in 2009, Cook dinner was pressed by analysts about how speedily the iPhone’s opponents appeared to be elbowing into the current market — and requested how Apple would be in a position to sustain its leadership.
“We don’t mind competitors, but if other people rip off our intellectual property, we will go following them,” he responded in a remark that was picked up on and interpreted at the time as a fairly stark warning shot throughout Palm’s bows.
When pressed all over again particularly on the Palm Pre, and how the unit appeared to “directly emulate the iPhone’s progressive interface”, Cook dinner doubled down on his implied accusation of IP theft: “We don’t want to refer to any certain providers, so that was a common statement. We like competitors due to the fact it tends to make us superior, but we will not stand for providers infringing on our IP.”
Of class this is all water beneath the bridge now, as Palm’s dreams of efficiently browsing the smartphone wave ended in abrupt catastrophe — burdened by ongoing legacy program issues, completely wrong-footed by carriers’ advertising selections and in the long run saddled with an unloving acquirer in HP — and the Palm Pre experienced a cruelly quick lifespan for such a ahead-pondering unit.
I don’t forget how fresh the interface felt in 2009. How vastly innovative vs legacy smartphone players like BlackBerry and Nokia — which, whilst they ended up still minting huge revenues back again then, ended up also obviously failing to appear to conditions rapidly sufficient with the paradigm shift of touchscreen mobility.
Regardless of whether the Palm Pre was definitely ahead of its time, or irrespective of whether aspects of the interface experienced been plucked out of a meticulously planned Cupertino ten-calendar year roadmap will be a story for Valley historians to unpick.
But in the Iphone X it’s apparent you’re seeking at a minimal ghost of the Pre.