I wrote a column last week saying that the “smoking gun” document Apple submitted into evidence in the Samsung patent infringement lawsuit does not constitute proof of infringement by itself.

Still, it’s a remarkable document that does prove something: Samsung is very impressed with Apple. In fact, it’s clear that Samsung is a huge Apple fanboy. 

Whenever there’s some kind of flame war between Android and Apple users, the conversation typically skirts around the real issues, mainly because people don’t believe in or understand the power of human nature.

Arguers focus on old PC criteria of speeds and feeds rather than post-PC criteria that is harder to quantify.

The truth is that for most Apple fans, Apple products “feel” better to use. But users don’t have the training or experience to understand what exactly makes them “feel” that way.

The late Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs has been ridiculed by Android fans of famously calling the iPad “magical.” But what did he mean, exactly?

Android users don’t get it. And neither do iPhone and iPad users. Well, they appreciate “it,” but don’t know what “it” is.

We found out this week that Samsung gets it. Samsung really understands why Apple fans prefer iOS devices. Samsung completely understands what Jobs meant by “magical.”

The Evidence

If you’re not following the lawsuit, here’s what I’m talking about. Apple and Samsung are in federal court suing each other for patent infringement.

Apple submitted into evidence this week a 132-page, internal Samsung “Relative Evaluation Report,” which is dated March 2, 2010.

The report basically shows well over 100 functions of the iPhone (as it existed in 2010), and compares them favorably to comparable functions in the Samsung Galaxy S.

With each function, Samsung says, in effect: “This Apple feature is awesome because bla bla bla….”

It then summarizes “Directions for improvement” – how Samsung can do that function better.

In a nutshell, what this document shows is the thoughts of a rabid Apple fanboy — or a group of fanboys — who understand what makes the iOS user interface so thrilling to use, so “magical.”

It’s a list of all the ways Samsung things Apple’s user interface is better than Samsung’s.

Samsung is impressed by the little things — the kinds of things that regular Android fans dismiss as irrelevant.

Here are some examples of what Samsung believes were superior features in the iPhone’s user interface.

  • When you press and hold on text in the iOS, a magnifying glass shows an enlarged view, making it easier to move the cursor.
  • Double-tapping on a segment of something — say, a column on a page in the Safari browser — perfectly sizes that segment for easy reading.
  • Dynamic effects add “fun factor.” For example, flipping pages in the Notepad app, rising and falling focused brightness on buttons that are tapped to provide visual feedback,
  • Can’t place duplicate menus on the home screen, which prevents user confusion.
  • When you can’t or shouldn’t do something, the control becomes unusable. For example, in the Safari browser, the Add Bookmark function is disabled until the page successfully loads.
  • The iOS onscreen keyboard doesn’t overlap with buttons or elements on the screen above.
  • The iOS camera shutter animation “offsets the user’s perceived time passage.”
  • The “Loading” sign in the Safari browser is in the center of the screen, making the information unavoidable.
  • As you enter a phone number in the iOS phone dialer, the size of the font gets smaller so you can see the whole number as you dial.
  • iOS icons look identical in color and design to the open application — for example, for the Memo app.
  • The time setting in the iOS Clock app is a dial place at the bottom of the screen, so it’s easy for the user to set.
  • The current date is displayed on the iOS Calendar app icon.
  • During a call, the currently selected feature (for example the Speakerphone feature), turns blue, making it super clear to the user what’s going on.
  • The “End Call” button is very large, red and at the bottom of the call screen, so you can’t accidentally press the wrong button when you want to end a call.
  • The dots on the bottom of the iOS home screen give you feedback about how many pages you have and which page you’re on.

These are just a few of the many features Samsung was Many Android fans will dismiss these elements of polish by saying they’re irrelevant. But Samsung didn’t think they were irrelevant. Samsung thought they were so relevant that they require a host of changes to its software.

Like I said, these are little things. But it’s the little things — and lots of them — that put the “magic” in the iOS.

Android users don’t understand this. And Apple users don’t understand it, either.

But Samsung does.

« »