How Apple’s victory over Samsung will affect you: The good and the bad

apple samsung iphone court case patent war

On Friday, a jury of nine unanimously decreed what we already knew: Samsung copied the iPhone. Samsung got greedy and made smartphones, for a while, that hit a little too close to Home for Apple. Samsung phones mimicked everything from the iPhone’s overall design to its Home button, and even its squared, colorful icons. Perhaps most ridiculous, Samsung, for a time, even copied the fun, uniquely Apple, rubberbanding effect that happens when you’re scrolling through data on an iPhone or iPad.

Because of how obvious this copying was, Apple has won $1 billion in damages from Samsung. This victory is huge and it may have negative impacts on phones already released and those coming out in the future. Android phones, which currently comprise 60-70 percent of all smartphones sold around the world, could lose key functionality. Many of them could be taken off the market or be drastically redesigned so that they don’t remotely resemble the iPhone. Let’s examine the ways Samsung’s loss might have screwed things up for Android users.

What’s at stake

Mac and PC holding handsBefore we fly in head first, let’s detail exactly what’s at stake and why all this is happening.

Despite the fact that Xerox first invented things like icons, folders, and many other standards of computing devices today, both Apple and Microsoft have been working separately (together) to take down an emerging common enemy: Google. With Android, Google is becoming a big player in smartphones, tablets, and is already entering the PC space. Google built Android on top of Linux and has given it away to manufacturers for free. Microsoft hates Android because it makes its living selling operating systems, not giving them away. Apple hates Android because it is riding on the success of the iPhone, which single-handedly ignited the smartphone business, and is now becoming the Windows of the phone and tablet world.

For decades, Microsoft and Apple battled one another, but they resolved their differences long ago and signed large cross-licensing patent agreements. Apple even showed a Nokia Windows Phone at the Samsung trial as an example of a phone that isn’t copying the iPhone. 

To try and stop or slow Android, Microsoft has bullied nearly every Android manufacturer into paying it licensing fees of $5-$15 per Android device sold. Apple’s preferred method of attacking Android has been to sue the pants off of every company making Android devices. Samsung and HTC have been its top targets. Apple and Microsoft probably aren’t calling each other up on the phone each night to cackle at their progress against Android, but they do have a mutual interest in keeping the status quo. Google scares them. (Learn more about how this lawsuit affects Android.)

With that out of the way, let’s press on.

Zooming is going to get difficult

Pinch to zoom

Two of the key patents that the jury just upheld were for “pinch to zoom” and “double tap to zoom.” Pinching and double tapping to zoom are natural touch gestures we all use constantly to zoom in on web pages, maps, and all kinds of things on phones. Simple hand gestures should not be patentable. Regardless of my thoughts, we can expect Samsung and many other major Android manufacturers (maybe even Google) to remove this functionality from future phones and possibly from phones already on the market via an over-the-air update. How will we zoom now? Well, we’ll probably have to tap an onscreen zoom bar or something stupid. Not cool.

No “rubber banding”

While few Android phones have this effect, likely for fear of angering Apple, don’t expect any of them to gain it anytime soon. Because of this lawsuit, iOS devices will likely be the only phones that allow you to pull (stretch) a page beyond its scrolling point and then release it to watch it snap back in place. It’s purely an ornamental design element, but it is one of those small things that makes the iPhone so fun to use. Google and other manufacturers have already used bands of color and other effects to hide their mimicry of Apple’s scrolling effect. Expect more experiments in the future, but nothing that too closely resembles Apple.

No “slide to unlock”

Slide to unlock buttonWhether you’ve realized it or not, most Android phones have already been affected by Apple’s litigation. Though this trial didn’t involve “slide to unlock” patent at the end, other Apple lawsuits have, and you can bet that Android manufacturers are going to try to avoid any gesture or software patents Apple has actively protected. Most Android phones have already been altered to avoid breaking this patent. Most newer Android phones do not unlock with a straight left-to-right sliding motion anymore (or at least a bar that you swipe across). Expect the onscreen ways you unlock your phone to get stranger as time goes on. 

>> Next page: Android could lose more than a few gestures

Mobile

Inferiority is a feature now! Palm's new plan is psychotic

The Palm is a smartphone to reduce your smartphone usage, or a small smartphone for when you don't want to carry your big smartphone. Palm itself doesn't seem sure which it is, but either way, it's a product that's so witless, we're amazed…
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Mobile

The upcoming OnePlus 6T may get a major camera update

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Deals

Verizon’s buy one, get one offer is the best deal on the new Google Pixel 3

If you need a new smartphone and want the best (without shelling out a grand or more), the new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are fantastic options. Verizon's BOGO offer is the best way to score a deal, letting you snag a free phone and save…
Mobile

Key settings you need to change on your brand-new Google Pixel 3 or 3 XL phone

Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones are now available. If you've set the phone up, we've rounded up a handful of key settings we think you should tweak or turn on to get the most out of your new device.
Mobile

Xiaomi phone with 5G and 10GB of RAM will become more than just a rumor next week

Xiaomi will announce the Mi Mix 3 smartphone on October 25, and according to the company's spokesperson, it will be capable of connecting at 5G speeds and feature 10GB of RAM -- two world firsts.
Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.
Mobile

Key settings you need to change on your brand-new LG V40 ThinQ

Now that you've got your brand-new LG V40 ThinQ, it's time to get to work. Whether its hiding the notch or setting a schedule for the blue light filter, here are some key settings you'll want to change on your LG V40 ThinQ.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Keep Notes is the latest app to get Google’s Material Design makeover

Google is updating more and more of its apps to come into line with its latest Material Design trends, and now it's Keep Notes' turn to get a new pair of pants. This update is now rolling out on Android devices.
Mobile

Verizon's newest deals can net you $500 off the LG V40 ThinQ

Looking for a new LG flagship? The LG V40 ThinQ is here, and it's bringing a familiar style, two more camera lenses, and upgraded specs. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the LG V40 ThinQ.
Mobile

Pixel 3 XL vs. Pixel 2 XL vs. Pixel XL: Which XL is best for you?

A Google Pixel XL is the best phone to get if you want the perfect Android experience on a big screen. However, with the release of the Pixel 3 XL, you have more choices then ever. Which Pixel XL should you buy?
Mobile

LG V40 ThinQ vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Can the V40 unseat the king?

The LG V40 ThinQ is packing a massive display and an incredible five lenses, making it a unique offering in the market. But is it better than the Galaxy Note 9, another phone with a huge display and great cameras?
Mobile

There are four versions of the Mate 20, but which one is the best?

Huawei revealed its full range of Mate 20 handsets, and it seems that there is a device that fits everyone's needs. We've compared all the options, including the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the Mate 20 X, the Mate 20, and the Mate 20 Lite.
1 of 2