10 iPhone Features That Android Phones Had First

android eating apple

Photo: asgw via Flickr

There’s no question that the iPhone was the first device to reinvent the smartphone market. Every non-Apple touchscreen smartphone since the first iPhone has been a variation of the original.(And there are all those lawsuits to prove it.)

But competition helps spur innovation. And Android phones have done just that. There are several features iPhone has today that started out on Android first.

While many are simple concepts that Apple wanted to wait to perfect before launching (such as multitasking), the fact remains that Android had a lot of these common features first.

We collected a few of the most obvious Android firsts right here.


It also took Apple three years to finally bring multitasking to iOS. Although it's a bit different than you'd expect. On iPhone, your open apps are put in stasis in a hidden tray you access by double tapping the home button. When you relaunch the app it picks up where you left off.

Android has been able to multitask since version 1.0.

Drop-down notifications (iOS 5)

The new drop-down notifications bar in iOS 5 is very similar to the one in most versions of Android. A quick swipe down from the top of your screen displays a menu with recent notifications such as texts and emails.

The iPhone will finally get this feature when iOS 5 launches this fall.

Wireless syncing (iOS 5)

There are several Android apps out there that let you sync your music, movies, contacts, etc. with your computer over your home's Wi-Fi connection. And they've been around almost since Android's beginning.

The iPhone will finally be able to sync with iTunes wirelessly this fall with iOS 5. You'll also be able to store backups of your phone online using iCloud.

Opening apps from the lock screen (iOS 5)

When you receive a text, calendar alert, or other notification, iOS 5 will let you open directly into that app from the lock screen. It's a feature several Android tweaks and skins (like HTC's Sense) have allowed for a long time now. The iPhone will finally get it this fall.

customisable wallpapers

For the first three years of the iPhone's existence, you were stuck with the plain black background on their home screens. (Unless they jailbroke, of course.) It wasn't until the 2010 launch of iOS 4 on the 3GS and iPhone 4 that you could finally choose any photo you wanted for your background.

Meanwhile, Android phones have had customisable backgrounds long before iPhone. Android phones also allow animated wallpapers.

Granted, backgrounds are just a cosmetic feature. But Android had them first.

Over the air updates (iOS 5)

Almost every Android phone since the beginning of time has been able to receive updates without syncing to a computer. (Although phone manufacturers are notoriously pokey at delivering them.)

Apple will finally allow over the air updates this fall with iOS 5.

If you want a sneak peek at how OTA updates will work in iOS 5, click here.

Front-facing camera

HTC's EVO 4G beat the iPhone 4 to a front-facing camera by a few weeks. The EVO launched in early June 2010 and the iPhone 4 launched at the end of the same month.

LED camera flash

Several Android phones had LED camera flashes months before the iPhone adopted it in June 2010.

Multiple carriers

The Android platform started on T-Mobile, but quickly spread to all four major carriers with version 2.0 of the OS.

The iPhone was stuck on AT&T until February of this year. It's likely we won't see it on T-Mobile on Sprint until the end of 2011 or early 2012.

Deeply-integrated voice control (unconfirmed)

There have been a ton of rumours about the iPhone 5/iOS 5 offering full voice control. That means features like built-in speech-to-text dictation. It'll likely be powered by Nuance, the company that makes the popular Dragon Dictation software. (Apple recently acquired Nuance.)

Android phones have had similar functions for a long time now.

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