On the unveiling of Apple’s new flagship smartphone yesterday, the iPhone X, CEO Tim Cook stated it was one thing the corporate’s workers had been working on for a decade.
The new premium handset with its edge-to-edge display (minus one unlucky high notch) does away with the bodily residence button completely and makes better use of gestures for controlling the UI.
The new interface for multitasking appears to be like fluid and intuitive. However it additionally — in the event you’ve been smartphone waiting for lengthy sufficient — engenders a definite feeling of déjà vu…
Particularly it appears to be like fairly like webOS operating on the Palm Pre — a handset that was introduced in 2009, after Jon Rubinstein, former SVP of Apple’s iPod division, had been lured out of retirement in Mexico by Palm: A mobile device firm with a (very) lengthy historical past, and sufficient self-perspective to comprehend they wanted an skilled product designer to assist them surf the following wave of mobility: touchscreen computing.
Rubinstein, who had left Apple in spring 2006, clearly possessed the hunted for design chops. Palm execs flew right down to Mexico to woo and win their man.
By the beginning of 2009 Rubinstein was on stage at CES to announce the Palm Pre: A high-gloss, pebble-shaped slider smartphone which deployed a number of gestures within the UI benefiting from a touch-sensitive space that prolonged beneath the display and onto the bezel itself.
It wasn’t simply the scroll-flicks and pinch-to-zooms already on the iPhone and Android units of the time that Palm had introduced over to its next-gen smartphone . It had one thing else up its sleeve: Its webOS UI integrated a deck-of-cards exercise interface to be the motive force for low friction mobile multitasking.
Palm confirmed how customers may simply swipe between and faucet on the playing cards to change apps. How the order of playing cards could possibly be rearranged with a finger press and drag. And the way particular person playing cards could possibly be flicked off the highest of the screen when the person was achieved with a selected app or process. Playing cards confirmed absolutely energetic apps. It was easy and chic.
“Now how’s that for some actual newness,” stated Matías Duarte, Palm’s senior director of human interface and person expertise, with a fairly sizable smirk on his face as he wrapped up that a part of the Pre’s CES demo.
(Duarte now works on Google’s card-like Material Design design language, which extends the cardboard motif the corporate first utilized in Android, for Google Now, in 2012; and he went straight from Palm to being a VP of design at Android when the feature was being developed.)
In an earnings name later the identical month in 2009, Cook was pressed by analysts about how rapidly the iPhone’s rivals seemed to be elbowing into the market — and requested how Apple would be capable of maintain its management.
“We don’t thoughts competitors, but when others rip off our mental property, we’ll go after them,” he responded in a remark that was picked up on and interpreted on the time as a fairly stark warning shot throughout Palm’s bows.
When pressed once more particularly on the Palm Pre, and the way the device appeared to “immediately emulate the iPhone’s progressive interface”, Cook doubled down on his implied accusation of IP theft: “We don’t wish to confer with any particular firms, so that was a basic assertion. We like competitors as a result of it makes us higher, however we won’t stand for firms infringing on our IP.”
In fact that is all water underneath the bridge now, as Palm’s goals of efficiently browsing the smartphone wave led to abrupt catastrophe — burdened by ongoing legacy software challenges, wrong-footed by carriers’ advertising choices and finally saddled with an unloving acquirer in HP — and the Palm Pre had a cruelly brief lifespan for such a forward-thinking device.
I keep in mind how recent the interface felt in 2009. How massively superior vs legacy smartphone gamers like BlackBerry and Nokia — which, though they have been nonetheless minting large revenues again then, have been additionally clearly failing to come back to phrases quickly sufficient with the paradigm shift of touchscreen mobility.
Whether or not the Palm Pre was actually forward of its time, or whether or not components of the interface had been plucked out of a rigorously deliberate Cupertino 10-year roadmap shall be a narrative for Valley historians to unpick.
However within the iPhone X it’s clear you’re taking a look at a bit ghost of the Pre.